Donald & Melania Trump's Complete Relationship Timeline

Donald and Melania Trump are the poster couple of the lovesick hypothesis that claims opposites attract. Never could two people have been more different than a brash American businessman-turned-politician who enjoys the spotlight and a tight-lipped Slovenian model whose elegance is as pronounced as her thoughts are inscrutable. But it's apparently a match deserving of merit since Trump and Melania have been together for well over two decades. Their polar personalities may actually be the key to their relationship's success. "When he is spinning and thinking and blazing forward, she brings this quality of calm and serenity to him," a friend of Melania's told Harper's Bazaar

Another quality that has kept the Trumps' relationship going is that they let each other be. "I don't want to change him," Melania told Harper's Bazaar. "And he doesn't want to change me." This rather evolved approach to love explains a lot about how the couple has managed to stick together through scandals surrounding infidelity and controversies throughout and after Trump's presidential term. Even as Trump became the first former president to be indicted, Melania maintained her quietly supportive role. "They weren't expecting [an indictment], but Melania will support him," a source alleged to People. "That's what she does. They are a family."

Let's take a closer look at how the couple's relationship began, and where it stands.

Donald and Melania Trump each lived glamorous lives before crossing paths

Even before they joined forces to become one of America's most powerful couples, Donald Trump and Melania Trump (née Knauss) lived separate but glossy lives. It was the 1990s, and Trump, having established his namesake empire in Manhattan real estate, was nothing less than a celebrity. His Florida fortress of Mar-a-Lago had also come up as a club in the mid-90s, making him a formidable force to be reckoned with on the East Coast. It was a glitzy turn from how Trump began the decade: in debt. 

As The Wall Street Journal reported, excessive loans and a chaotic economy put Trump on the road to personal bankruptcy, though he fought against that thorny declaration. His personal expenses whittled down to $450,000 a month, while he continued to claim that his net worth touched a billion dollars. As business accelerated through the decade, though, the gains that came in were excessive. 

At the same time, a budding model from Slovenia was cutting through the fashion world in Paris and Milan. By the time she was 26 years old, Melania had reached New York. She acquired what were, as she told GQ, some of "the best catalogs" at the time. Though male attention was never in short supply, Melania apparently made herself scarce around New York's famed nightlife. In 1998, everything changed. 

They bumped into each other at a party

For the most part, Melania Knauss lived quietly during her early modeling days in New York. However, Paolo Zampolli, an Italian associate of Melania's who arranged her move to the United States, kept her social calendar exciting. In November '98, he invited her to what would end up being a life-altering party, according to GQ. When she walked into the Kit Kat Club for a Fashion Week event, Melania couldn't have foreseen that she would meet the man who would eventually chart their roadmap to the White House. There he was: Donald Trump, a business mogul pursuing new paramours in the middle of a crumbling marriage.

As he later narrated to Larry King, Trump was supposed to link up with another supermodel at the party when he laid eyes on Melania. "It was a great chemistry and energy," Melania told King. "And, you know, something was there right away," she added. Melania ended up turning the tables on him — instead of giving him her number, she asked for his. She dialed him up some days later and "was struck by his energy," she told Harper's Bazaar. Their first date was a night out in New York.  

Trump's second marriage to Marla Maples ended not long after he met Melania

When he met Melania Knauss in 1998, Donald Trump was in his 50s and already a long way ahead in chasing love. His first marriage to Czech model Ivana Trump had lasted about a decade and the couple welcomed three children together. The relationship endured through a string of the estate mogul's alleged affairs, the one with actor Marla Maples hammering the final nail in the coffin. Trump and Ivana divorced in 1990, with the businessman marrying Marla soon after. They became parents to one daughter. As Marla told People, she was rueful about the bitterness between her and Ivana, and said she "never had any intention of hurting her." 

Unfortunately, things came full circle for Marla, whose own marriage to Trump was short-lived. They separated just four years after tying the knot. "Because we were so different, it could get a little bit combative," she revealed to Access Hollywood. Though Marla later expressed sentimentality towards Trump, their divorce in 1999 wasn't a simple affair. Marla claimed that just days before she became Trump's wife, she was forced to sign a prenup that would grant her merely $1 million if the pair separated within five years' time. According to Vanity Fair, Marla had allegedly been aiming for a sum of $25 million — about the same amount Ivana received.

The business tycoon notoriously sexualized his new girlfriend before the world

Donald Trump has always lived up to his public image as a man of many excesses — and proudly. In 1999, only months into his relationship with Melania Knauss, Trump got on a call with shock jock Howard Stern for a notoriously loose conversation about his girlfriend and it was nothing short of a scandalous conference with the radio host instigating questions about Melania's cellulite, nakedness, and sex life. Not unexpectedly, Trump didn't rein himself in too much either: "She is actually naked [now]. It's a thing of beauty," he said.

The infamous exchange remained a thing of the past until Trump's presidency fished it out from the recesses of public memory — along with other damning evidence. Howard and Trump had engaged in a series of hair-raising chats about women for 17 years, according to audio files reviewed by CNN in 2016. From feeling up Melania in public to groping other women — nothing was off-limits for the two men. Melania, also part of the 1999 interview, didn't seem to be as horrified as the audience was. "It's the man thing, that's how the man talks," she told The New York Times, not without adding how fun it all was. 

Melania was preparing to become a first lady in the '90s

Just as the new millennium was about to dawn, the first whispers of Melania Knauss becoming the first lady of the United States were heard. Donald Trump, her mega-rich boyfriend of one year who dabbled in real estate, was broadcasting a then outlandish-seeming idea of running for the presidency. In late 1999, Trump threw his hat in the ring as a candidate from the then-new Reform Party. His audacious bid was only in its exploratory stages, but Trump spoke with trademark conviction. "I can save Social Security, reduce taxes, repair the health care system," he told The Washington Post at the time. 

His girlfriend seemed to agree. "We're having [a] good time and I'm supporting him in everything that he's decided to do," CNN quoted her saying. The couple was indeed having a good time — a detail that their private jets and luxurious lodgings made hard to miss. The two shuttled across events that would stack up political support for Trump, with the bid seeming real enough for Melania to be picturing herself in the White House. "I would be very traditional, like Jackie Kennedy and Betty Ford," she told ABC News. Trump had only just settled his second divorce, and marriage to Melania was a faint idea then; however, the model asserted that she loved him and would support his political ambitions.

The couple briefly broke up in the early aughts

A property tycoon with a presidential bid in hand, Donald Trump was the talk of the town and his public life ensured that the same courtesy was extended to his girlfriend. A risqué in-flight photoshoot Melania did with GQ for their January 2000 issue maximized attention towards her, and Trump was her loudest cheerleader. "She's popular, she's brilliant, she's a wonderful woman," he gushed, eager to get his hands on personal copies of Melania's photos. 

But all was not well in paradise. The same month Melania's photoshoot made a splash, the press hinted at a breakup between the political hopeful and the model. "She will be missed," Trump plainly told The New York Times. He was then on the road to shaping a political career for himself, which, it turned out, was one of the reasons behind the snag in his relationship with Melania, who had previously publicly expressed enthused support for his presidential bid. 

"We were apart for a few months, not long," Melania later confirmed to DuJour. When they got back together, it was for good. From the Met Gala to the MTV Video Music Awards, the pair graced the most prestigious red carpets hand in hand. In 2004, Trump sealed the deal by putting a $2 million ring on Melania's finger. 

Donald and Melania hosted a lavish star-studded wedding in 2005

Donald Trump and Melania Knauss took their relationship to the next level by tying the knot on January 25, 2005. Trump's net worth was being recorded in billions, and so his nuptials were predictably no small affair. The Palm Beach wedding was as opulent as it could get, with upper-crust guests flying into Trump's beachside oasis of Mar-a-Lago to celebrate the couple. From audience-favorite notables like Gayle King and Anna Wintour to political honchos, including Rudy Giuliani and both Bill and Hillary Clinton, the event saw the who's who of the country in attendance, allowing them access to the grandest indulgences. As an invitee wrote for The New Yorker, "The Trump wedding, if it isn't already, maybe ought to be taught as a case study at Wharton." 

Before she walked down the aisle, Vogue readers had already been treated to the first look of Melania in her wedding fineries on the magazine's February 2005 cover. The Dior piece, deemed "the dress of the year" by Vogue, flashed embroidered detailing with thousands of priceless crystals and was easily one of the most talked about highlights of the wedding. With luxurious champagne and cakes flowing freely at the extravagant reception, the Trump wedding seemed like, as boxing promoter Don King put it to The New York Times, "something out of the monarchy." 

Marriage didn't stop Donald Trump from lewd talk or an alleged affair

Donald Trump is a creature of habit. His marriage to Melania in 2005 made little difference to the business baron's notoriously loose tongue and philanderous inclinations. In fact, the very year of the couple's nuptials, Trump admitted that he tried to unsuccessfully hook up with a married woman. "I moved on her like a b***h, but I couldn't get there," he told a journalist, per tapes accessed by The Washington Post. Trump made other off-color remarks about women in the same conversation, including the infamous one that years later blared the death knell for him: "Grab them by the p***y." 

A bombshell revelation made after Trump won his presidency made public his sexual liaisons from 2006, when the businessman had engaged with adult film star Stormy Daniels. Relating the encounter to InTouch Weekly in 2011, she recalled sleeping with Trump and how he didn't seem to be bothered by the fact that he was married. "Oh, don't worry about her," he reportedly told Daniels. 

In what led to a full-blown scandal and Trump's eventual indictment, Daniels was allegedly paid hush money ahead of his 2016 election to keep the extramarital affair secret. As headlines came down heavily on Trump in 2018, Melania told ABC News that Trump's affairs were of no concern to her and that she had "much more important things to think about." She added, "It is not a concern and focus of mine."

The pair welcomed a child together in 2006

Parenthood was high up on the cards for Melania and Donald Trump following their wedding in 2005. In an interview with Larry King, Trump gushed about his four children from previous marriages – Donald Jr., Ivanka, Eric, and Tiffany. At 58, he said he still quite liked the idea of fathering another child.

In December 2005, when Melania was pregnant with the couple's first and only child together, Trump controversially declared on Howard Stern's radio show that he was giving Melania a week to get back to her slim waistline after giving birth. On March 20, 2006, a little over a year into being husband and wife, the Trumps welcomed a son named Barron

"He's not like a crybaby — he's calm, and it's fantastic," Melania revealed to People. The Trump penthouse was a conventional domestic frontier with the breadwinning husband and homemaking wife. As Melania told, the new mom ensured that traditional gender roles were kept intact. "I didn't want [Donald] to change the diapers or put Barron to bed," she said. While Melania was busy with mommy dutiesin the summer of 2006, Trump allegedly fired up a sexual rendezvous with adult actor Stormy Daniels, which only became public knowledge a decade later. 

Melania tended to motherhood duties while her husband campaigned for presidency

In the run-up to their life-altering entry onto the political stage, the Trumps kept themselves busy with work and home per usual. As Donald Trump expanded his real estate ventures into newer pastures, Melania Trump dipped her toes into business, launching jewelry and skincare enterprises. She, however, remained committed to her primary role of raising the couple's son, Barron. Describing her not-so-everyday life, she told Refinery29 back in 2012 that she was deeply involved in her child's upbringing and kept him aware of his privilege. "I keep him grounded by giving him information at home, talking to him, and telling him that in life, there are rules," she said. 

In the background, the thrum of Trump's presidential aspiration was becoming louder. In 2016, the newsworthy businessman came up as the Republican Party's front-running candidate. A woman of few words, Melania was among Trump's silent, strongest supporters and let him take the spotlight solo throughout his campaign trail. She devoted much of her time to Barron, though that didn't mean she didn't have opinions about her husband's speeches. "You could tone it down a little bit on occasion," Trump repeated Melania's words to ABC News. The one time that Melania herself took center stage at the Republican National Convention amid the presidential campaign, it backfired following accusations of plagiarism surrounding her speech

As president and first lady, the couple lived mostly separate lives

Once Donald Trump was inaugurated as the president of the United States on January 20, 2017, everything about him was obligated to public judgment — including his marriage. It wasn't the easiest task, given that Melania Trump held her ground as a tightly private first lady. It was not an act — she was described as quite the recluse, even behind the scenes. "I don't know any couple that spends as much time apart. ... She is a loner. He is a loner. They're perfectly happy to be separated," Mary Jordan, who authored a biography on Melania, told The Guardian

Like any other couple, date nights and holiday retreats were part of the couple's calendar, but Melania's discomfort with being in the public forum warranted by her husband's job was vivid. As their White House tenure progressed, Melania's stiff demeanor and aloofness toward Trump became unmissable quirks that went viral on the internet. Body language expert Patti Wood labeled one of these moves "the Melania," exhibited through the First Lady's unhappy, slouchy posture. Wood told Insider, "Her relationship with him [Donald] has changed, so she feels the need to be formally on guard." 

The pair had each other's backs throughout Donald Trump's presidential term

Melania Trump never shied away from a joke or two about her husband's unrestrained Twitter use or occasionally asserting that she had standalone opinions of her own. These rare streaks of rebellion didn't really cut through Melania's otherwise compliant conduct that synced her image to that of her husband's. Even as half of America turned against Donald Trump, his ever-loyal wife aired contrarian views.

"We have a great chemistry and to be with a man like my husband is you need to know who you are," she told ABC News in 2018. "You need to have a very independent life and supporting him, you need to be very smart and quick, and be there for him when he needs you." The trend of braving scandals was a longstanding dynamic between the pair, with either Trump assuming the role of public savior for the other.

When Trump's headline-grabbing remarks about women came to the fore, Melania resisted torrential claims of misogyny, asserting to CNN, "I believe my husband." Trump, too, made efforts to show up for Melania in his own way, giving the press an unexpectedly detailed defense of why his wife wore stilettos while setting out on official duty to hurricane-hit Texas in 2017. By the time all hell irrevocably broke loose, Trump was impeached, and the curtains came down on the pair's time in the White House, Melania had become but a silent spectator to the unfolding drama. 

Melania seems supportive of Donald Trump's political comeback

Are the Trumps returning to the White House? A large part of the United States wouldn't be thrilled at the prospect — possibly including Melania Trump. The former first lady's discomfort with being in the public eye during her husband's first presidential tenure was widely acknowledged. "She never wanted this, and never had any interest," a former campaign aide alleged to Vanity Fair. The former president, vocal about his wife's distressful experience in the White House, often had to come home and apologize to her for putting her in the limelight. 

And yet, as The Donald lumbers back up again for a political comeback, Melania seems to be a pillar of encouragement. "I await the day when my husband returns to lead an America that is characterized by peace, love, and security," she told Breitbart News. Though Melania's post-presidency life seems to have done her good, with sources telling CNN she looks "happy and relaxed" with spas and privacy at her disposal, her commitment to Trump may call time on it soon enough.