Little-Known Facts About Nikki Haley's Husband Michael Haley

As the spouse of presidential hopeful Nikki Haley, Michael Haley is accustomed to spending time in the spotlight. From 2011 to 2017, when his wife was the Governor of South Carolina, Michael was known as the First Gentleman of South Carolina, a title that he continues to use unofficially in its acronym form (FGOSC) for his personal Instagram account. 

In 2012, Nikki published "Can't Is Not an Option," a memoir that includes details about her husband's early life and their romance.  During Nikki's campaign for the Republican presidential nomination, the book garnered attention, revealing some little-known facts about Michael's life. For instance, in January 2024, the story of why Nikki gave her husband a new name made headlines after a political correspondent posted a page of her memoir on social media. 

Nikki and Michael have been together since 1989.  However, during the early days of their relationship, Nikki was nervous about telling her parents that she and Michael were dating. It also took time to convince her parents that they were in love and wanted to get married. "If you think you can find me someone who will love me more than him and who will take care of me better than him, then I will listen to you," she recalled challenging her parents in her memoir. She persuaded them, and Nikki and Michael got married in 1996 and have two children: Rena Haley Jackson and Nalin Haley. Here are some other details about Michael.

Michael endured a long separation from three of his siblings

Michael Haley's early years were difficult. As Nikki Haley later disclosed in her memoir, "Can't Is Not an Option," his father struggled with alcohol addiction and their house lacked amenities like electricity and running water. His mother couldn't resume custody of his five children after a serious car accident left her with a brain injury, and Michael and his four siblings were separated. He and two sisters spent time in foster care, while their two older siblings lived with other families.

When he was four, Michael and his sister Lee Anne were adopted by Bill and Carol Haley. However, the couple was never informed about the rest of Michael's siblings. One sister, Rhonda, remained in foster care. Michael didn't know her whereabouts for over 15 years, until a medical emergency involving her daughter, prompted Rhonda to get permission to unseal court records and locate her siblings. Since Michael had been so young when he was adopted, he didn't realize he had two additional siblings beyond the two he lived with in foster care.  In addition, the Haleys moved from his birth state of Ohio when he was in high school, adding geographic distance. 

Nikki has also shared Michael's adoption story in speeches. "Every day is a blessing because a family loved and raised him under difficult circumstances," she said in April 2023. "I am blessed that someone saved his life."

Michael served overseas while Nikki governed South Carolina

In 2006, Michael Haley joined the Army National Guard. He was deployed to Afghanistan in January 2013 while his wife, Nikki Haley, served as Governor of South Carolina. Their children were 14 and 10 years old at the time. "He left me as a single mom governor, but we're still married," Nikki commented during a 2023 campaign stop (via NBC News).

The couple corresponded via email while Michael was away.  When his deployment ended in December 2013, Nikki was relieved to have him home. "I felt like I took my first breath in a year," the then-governor explained to The Christian Science Monitor. "When you know you could lose a loved one and to think of that every day, it reminds you truly to be thankful for what you have." While Michael's 2013 active duty service was reportedly a first for a gubernatorial spouse, he garnered media attention in 2023 when his deployment to Africa meant he'd miss a year of Nikki's presidential campaign.

Before he deployed, Michael accompanied Nikki on the campaign trail. Besides supporting her at public events, Michael has cared for his family by preparing meals. When Nikki was a child, her mother enrolled her in culinary lessons for a time. However, Nikki recalled the teacher didn't see her as a very promising student. "To this day, if my husband, Michael, didn't cook, my family would never have a home-cooked meal," she admitted in "Can't Is Not an Option."