Strange Things About Emmanuel And Brigitte Macron's Marriage

Entering the political arena is often accompanied by intense scrutiny of one's life — both personal and professional — and this was most certainly the case for Emmanuel Macron, the President of France. As one of the most visible leaders on the world stage, his marriage to Brigitte Macron (née Trogneux), 25 years his senior, has been put under the microscope. The couple has weathered constant and intense negativity about topics that range from their significant age gap to how their relationship started to his sexuality.

Though the couple married in 2007, they kept a low profile for several years, only making their first public appearance together in 2015. While serving as finance minister the couple attended a state dinner with Spain's King Felipe. Having made their official debut formally triggered the public's interest in their unique relationship, provoking a range of reactions. While running for office, Emmanuel pointed out that his wife's children had been extremely supportive of their relationship, saying (per CNews) "I wanted to thank you for accepting us, for loving us as we were. In particular, I wanted to thank Brigitte's children. If there are anyone for whom it might not have been very simple, it was for them." As Macron has settled into his role as president, his wife is never far from his side. Theirs is an unlikely love story that began when he was just a teenager in her high school theater class. 

The way they met still makes people uncomfortable

Brigitte Auzière was a married mother of three when she began teaching at La Providence, a private Catholic high school in Amiens, France. Among her theater students was a 15-year-old Emmanuel Macron, who, by all accounts was very precocious and possessed tremendous talent when it came to acting. "My colleagues only talked about him. A little genius who breaks the boards," she told Paris Match, recalling what she'd heard about him prior to seeing him perform. She went on to describe how the audacious teenager eventually requested that she collaborate on a writing project with him. During their time working together, she was overcome by their growing attachment. She told the outlet in part that "Writing brought us together every Friday and sparked an incredible closeness. He gained a lot of influence over me... I felt that I was slipping, too."

Though the pair says their attraction was undeniable, it was devastating to both of their families. Her husband, a banker named Andrew-Louis Auzière was predictably enraged when he learned of the affair, and young Macron's parents were utterly dismayed as well. Author Anne Fulda interviewed them for her book "Emmanuel Macron: A Perfect Young Man," and discovered the elder Macrons had initially been under the impression that their son was pursuing his drama teacher's daughter. They were shocked to find out they were wrong. "When Emmanuel met Brigitte, we certainly did not say, 'How wonderful!'" said his father (per Independent).

They must constantly defend their age difference

Emmanuel Macron's parents hoped that a previously planned move to Paris for his final year of schooling would create some distance and dampen the controversial couple's connection, but it was not to be. "You cannot get rid of me. I will come back and marry you," is what he proclaimed to Brigitte Auzière prior to his departure (via the Independent). The opposition to their relationship is largely due to the age gap and the fact that she is the elder of the two. The difference in life stages begs the question of what they could possibly have in common, but as Brigitte recalled it, not only was he a brilliant student and someone she likened to Mozart, but he "had a relationship of equals with other adults" (via BBC). Regardless of her assessment of his maturity level, there were some practical concerns as well. 

According to writer Anne Fulda, Emmanuel's mother, Francoise Nogues-Macron pointed out a personal concern to the teacher. "Don't you see? You've had your life. But he won't have children with you." Macron has ferociously defended his unique family and is reportedly very close with his step-children. Slamming against the double standard, Macron told La Parisian, "If I had been 20 years older than my wife, nobody would have thought for a single second that I couldn't be," per the Independent.

He has step-children who are older than him

Upon his marriage, Emmanuel Macron immediately became a stepfather to Brigitte Macron's three grown children, two of whom are older than him. He is a few months younger than stepdaughter Laurence and a couple of years younger than stepson, Sébastian. Though he has good relationships with them now, it wasn't always smooth sailing. According to a French documentary called "Brigitte Macron: A French Novel" she was aware that her love affair was hurtful to her children, but she simply couldn't resist forging ahead. As she told Paris Match, "Love took everything in its path and led me to divorce. Impossible to resist him."

Brigitte Macron's youngest daughter, Tiphaine Auzière who was nine years old when she learned about the relationship, says that she was often with her mother when she went to visit her future stepfather. Nowadays, she has an idealized opinion of them. "If I had to present a vision of love, it's Emmanuel and Mummy. When they are together, it's almost as if the world does not exist," she said in the documentary (via Daily Mail). Emmanuel Macron has said that he does not regret not having his own children and is fulfilled by the relationships he has with his step-grandchildren. 

They are in near-constant contact

Despite the Macrons' tempestuous love affair beginning decades ago, the couple is still very affectionate in public and is regularly photographed holding hands or walking arm in arm. Brigitte Macron is often given credit for helping her husband to achieve his political goals and he has spoken about her importance to him regarding his career aspirations. As Emmanuel vied for office of the presidency, he told RTL France that "She will have the role she has always had with me, she will not be hidden, because she shares my life, because her opinion is important, and because the presidential function carries something which has a personal dimension."

In a book she wrote about the Macrons' relationship called "While We're Alone," Gaël Tchakaloff makes several stunning claims based on her five-year-long friendship with Brigitte Macron (via The Telegraph). She asserts that the couple is very close and that Brigitte even provides a motherly presence for her husband. "There is never an hour and a half that passes without them talking to one another," she says. She offers additional insights, including that they have a shared calendar, they visit each other's offices frequently throughout the course of the workday, and that Brigitte is a constant source of guidance, confidence, and reassurance for her husband. Tchakaloff reports that "They know minute by minute what the other is doing. They are convinced that being a couple vastly enhances your individuality."

They are pained by the public's vitriol towards her

During the course of his presidency, the Macrons have been deeply troubled by the amount of negativity that the public has directed at Brigitte Macron. Some of this sentiment was the fallout of Macron floating the possibility of a green tax as part of his environmental policy. This, in conjunction with his move to cut the country's wealth tax, inspired the Yellow Vest movement, which was made up largely of rural and working-class members of society who protested the proposed hike in fuel prices. Brigitte had grown up in a wealthy family and was considered part of the bourgeoisie. All of these factors resulted in some citizens' belief that Emmanuel was a president who catered to the richest sector of the population.  

The First Lady endured intense criticism during this period including her characterization as a modern-day Marie Antoinette (an excessive spender of public funds of her era). She claimed to be confused by the comparison and responded with some comments that expressed her exasperation. "What, in my attitude, has generated that idea?" she queried. "Because the French people who do not know me see me on the steps of the Élysée in a pretty dress and pretty shoes they think: 'She is out of touch" (via Express). Whether (or not) comments like these come off as tone-deaf have undoubtedly been the topic of discussion during many a petit déjeuner.

They are actually faithful to each other

France's history is rife with politicians, kings, and rulers who have indulged in extramarital affairs, perhaps the most famous being Napoleon Bonapart, who was known to have many mistresses. Their modern-day counterparts have carried on that tradition with gusto as well. The four presidents who held office prior to Emmanuel Macron were widely known to have dalliances, including the most recent, François Hollande. Hollande actually spent his tenure at the Elysée Palace with a woman he left his previous partner for, whom he then dumped unceremoniously several years later. The French people, however, are hardly scandalized by these affairs. According to the Pew Research Center, France is at the top of the list when it comes to tolerating infidelity. Less than half the people who were polled considered extramarital affairs unacceptable and only 23% felt that Hollande's indiscretion was a matter of public concern.

Where the Macrons fall on that spectrum may be evidenced by the fact that there have been no substantiated rumors of cheating on either of their parts. Indeed, Emmanuel appears to be extremely devoted to his wife, and she has spoken about feeling deeply protective of her husband. Perhaps President Macron's statement exemplifies just how closely the two are intertwined, "Without her, I wouldn't be me," he once declared (per CNN). 

They fought rumors that she is transgender

Successfully dodging romantic scandals doesn't mean that Brigitte Macron hasn't had her share of trolls trying to cause problems. Ahead of her husband's re-election campaign, a far-right journalist by the name of Natacha Rey wrote an article that was obviously intended to cause the First Lady stress. Rey claimed that Macron had been born male and is a trans woman. As ridiculous as her statements were, conspiracy theorists climbed on the bandwagon, and #JeanMichelTrogneux began to trend on social media sites. A discussion about it on a YouTube broadcast gave the story a boost when Rey went as far as to say that Macron had undergone a sex-change operation several decades prior.

Brigitte Macron, who has been vocal against online harassment decided to file suit against a total of two perpetrators. She claimed that the statements violated both her privacy and her fundamental rights. Some people wondered why she would go to such an extent to address something so outlandish, but she explained her actions by saying, "If I do nothing when I've been against harassment for the past four years, I'm not audible. People will say you have done nothing" (per Telegraph). 

They've also wrestled with rumors about his sexuality

When the Macrons entered public life, one of the rumors they were confronted with focused on Emmanuel Macron's sexuality. In a documentary called "In the Hell of the Presidential Campaigns," claims were made that Brigitte Macron received a call during her husband's bid for the presidency. "I know your husband is right now with a man" is reportedly what the anonymous person on the other end of the line said to her (via Daily Mail). Senator François Patriat confirmed that she was very alarmed by the call but was resigned to the reality that they would be constantly targeted by haters. One of the people who was rumored to be involved with Macron was a gay French broadcaster by the name of Mathieu Gallet. Gallet was incensed. "A heterosexual man cannot have a true relationship with a woman 24 years older than him, and therefore it means he is gay. It is an idea based in absolute misogyny," he said, per The Times.

A gay French filmmaker who knows the Macrons dispelled the rumors in an article for The Telegraph. "They are a genuine couple. They've got a really close bond. He wants his maman." Mr. Macron also responded, telling Le Parisien (via ABC News), "If I was 20 years older than my wife, no one would have questioned it being a legitimate relationship," adding, "It's only because my wife is 20 years older than me that people say it's not tenable."

Their marriage challenges the established order

When Emmanuel Macron assumed the French presidency, his tenure was destined to be unique for several reasons, including the fact that he had never held an elected office before. Additionally, he is the youngest head of state in the modern era and he also managed to achieve victory without the support of the Socialists or the Gaullists. Documented since his youth as being far more mature and intellectual than others in his age group, he's even managed to use the age difference between him and his wife to his political advantage. Not only has he carefully crafted an image of his marriage with the assistance of a powerful paparazzi agency, but he has leaned into the notion that their partnership is representative of what his presidency brings to the citizens of France.

As Mariette Sineau, a political scientist, put it to the Independent, "There's a deep desire for a renewal of the political class and a wish to break free of old social norms and ancient codes of conduct." She added, "French society is much more liberal than people outside the country or even in the media realize." Macron has put his marriage front and center, and this has been characterized as one of the many ways in which he is challenging the establishment.