- Donald and Melania Trump have been married since 2005, long before his 2016 presidential campaign.
- Since then, their marriage has weathered more than a few storms.
- Patti Wood, a body-language expert, took a look at three photos of the Trumps during his presidency plus one from the campaign trail to ascertain how their relationship has changed.
- Visit INSIDER’s homepage for more stories.
The first couple is always scrutinised for every move they make, and Donald and Melania Trump are no different. The number of scandals during their time in the White House, however, might be unprecedented.
INSIDER spoke with Patti Wood, a body-language expert, to determine the state of their relationship after the stress, the reports of infidelity, and the general toll that being a political couple takes on a marriage.
Keep scrolling to get the inside scoop on the Trumps’ marriage.
This photo was taken during the Trumps’ appearance on the “Today” show in 2016, while he was on the campaign trail.
According to Wood, this photo shows genuine enjoyment from both of them, especially Donald.
“He’s laughing very spontaneously,” Wood said. “It’s a very real laugh that goes all the way up through his body and lifts up his shoulders, lifts up his body, lifts up his cheeks, and he’s squinting. He’s in on it. He’s not offended.”
Why would he be offended? Perhaps because this photo was snapped just after his wife told a joke about him needing to get off Twitter.
Wood said that “it seems like they’re happy and laughing together,” even though “she’s just made fun of him.”
“She’s leaning away from him. To me, that makes him more the butt of the joke,” Wood said, adding that “it’s not a joke between the two of them” and “doesn’t draw them closer.”
However, that doesn’t mean Melania is unhappy here. Rather, she appears more relaxed than we’ve seen her since her husband became president.
“She’s voluntarily touching him,” Wood said, whereas these days, “she acquiesces to touching, she matches his touching sometimes, and sometimes she cringes from his touch, but here she’s reaching out to touch him.”
This attempt at hand-holding was captured in April 2019 at the White House Easter Egg Roll.
According to Wood, this resembles the first lady that we see now, what Wood described as “iconic Melania, the president’s wife.”
“He’s reaching out, but reaching out and down. He often pushes her hand down when they hold hands, and he’s lifting up the tips of her fingers to meet his,” she said, adding, “I don’t know what the context is, but neither of them is happy.”
The key to seeing this obvious unhappiness is in the first lady’s posture. Her shoulders are forward and down, almost slouching, and her arms are stiff and close to her sides. That’s called “a danger response,” Wood said. With that type of response, you freeze, “bring your limbs closer to your body – you hunker down; you make yourself small.”
This pose has become so associated with the first lady that Wood calls it “the Melania.” It’s important to note, though, that this was not always the way she was, and that she has changed since entering the White House, Wood said.
“This has changed. Her relationship with him has changed, so she feels the need to be formally on guard,” Wood said, adding that “there’s so much tension around her mouth.”
Wood emphasised the juxtaposition of these photos with those from the beginning of their relationship, when “she was always laughing.”
Here’s a rare instance of PDA from the first couple, in a photo taken in May 2019.
The first thing Wood noticed in this photo was the president’s grip on the first lady’s arm.
“It’s a grip. You can see the indents on her arm,” she said, adding that he often grips her “to bring her closer in.”
“There’s a distinct difference between that grip – the tension, the placement, the indent on somebody’s arm – and a hold, embrace, to enjoy somebody being close to you,” she said.
Wood also told INSIDER that Melania’s body language clearly telegraphed how uncomfortable she is.
“If you look at her body, she’s not naturally moving in towards him,” Wood said. “Only her neck and head are forward; the rest is held back. There’s no rounding of her body, her shoulders, her arms, her belly. She’s not rounding in towards him.”
The president isn’t leaning in with his body either – it’s just his head and neck going forward. The only thing that differentiates this interaction from one he could have with his daughter or a foreign dignitary is that grip on Melania’s arm, according to Wood.
Last up: a photo of the president and the first lady walking across the White House lawn in April 2019.
This type of hand-holding, Wood said, is quite common of Donald and Melania.
“He loves to hold hands. Sometimes he’s stepping in front of her and pulling,” Wood said.
She added: “We often see them holding hands. That need for connection with her, the need to have her by his side, is very, very strong.”
However, it was also clear to Wood that the two are not in sync.
“Typically, when you see couples holding hands, one or both of them is smiling, happy, lifted up, looking in the same direction as their partner,” Wood said. “But often when they’re holding hands, she’s a step behind.”
Their expressions are also a key indicator of what might actually be going on.
“The expressions on their faces are pressed lips, withholding their true feelings, pressed in, downward, at the corner of their mouths.”
She also emphasised the difference between interlacing your fingers when holding hands and going palm-to-palm, as these two do.
“Interlacing typically means more affection and intimacy, and being intertwined together,” Wood said.
She also said that a couple is forced to be in sync when interlacing fingers because otherwise it causes physical pain. Going palm-to-palm allows for one person to push or pull the other.
Wood concluded that this isn’t a one-time thing.
“It’s not like, ‘Oh my God, we got one negative photo of them holding hands.’ It’s very indicative of their normal state,” she told INSIDER.
- Read more:
- A body-language expert says this is what Meghan Markle and Prince Harry’s relationship is really like
- Ivanka Trump does the same pose in every photo – here’s what it means according to a body-language expert
- This absurdly uncomfortable video of Donald Trump trying to hold Melania’s hand is going viral – here’s what a body-language expert has to say about it
- A body-language expert analyses Trump’s unique handshakes
Business Insider Emails & Alerts
Site highlights each day to your inbox.