Hillary And Bill Clinton's Relationship Timeline

Bill and Hillary Clinton's marriage has been the subject of public attention since he first announced a run for the presidency in 1991. That kind of scrutiny — and the revelations that came from the scrutiny — could end even the strongest marriages. But the Clintons have remained married to this day, defying the odds, while still fascinating the media.

Bill Clinton and Hillary Rodham came from different backgrounds, but a love for the law brought them together. The former president was born William Jefferson Blythe III on August 19, 1946 in Hope, Arkansas. He eventually took his stepfather's last name after his biological father died. While attending Georgetown University in Washington, DC, he won a prestigious Rhodes Scholarship that allowed him to study at Oxford University in England, and he eventually made it to Yale Law School (via Biography).

Hillary Diane Rodham was born on Oct. 26, 1947 in Chicago and grew up in the suburbs, eventually attending Wellesley College where she was an active young Republican. However, after hearing Martin Luther King Jr. speak in 1968, she became a Democrat and enrolled in Yale Law School, according to Biography. That's where the Bill and Hillary Clinton story begins.

A chance meeting at a library changes the course of history

For Bill Clinton, it may have been a case of love at first sight. He spotted the woman who would become Hillary Clinton in a class, but it was at the Yale library where he first worked up the courage to at least try to speak to her.

As former President Clinton said at the 2016 Democratic National Convention where his wife was to become the first female presidential nominee of a major U.S. political party: "I followed her out, intending to introduce myself. I got close enough to touch her back — but I couldn't. Somehow, I knew this wouldn't be just another tap on the shoulder and I might be starting something I couldn't stop" (via People).

When he finally did get the guts to ask her on a date, it was for a simple walk around the campus. "We've been walking and talking and laughing together ever since," he said in his convention speech, according to People. "We've done it in good times and bad, through joy and heartbreak."

A love for politics and service brings Bill Clinton and Hillary Rodham together

Bill Clinton and Hillary Rodham got their first taste of campaigning together in 1972 when they worked on the George McGovern presidential campaign. He lost to Richard Nixon, but the pair was officially in love, and by 1973 Bill proposed for the first time after they'd traveled to England. She turned him down, saying she needed more time to think. He had to propose two more times before she finally agreed to marry him, according to Insider.

Perhaps the third time was the charm because he surprised her with an Arkansas house that he thought she'd had her eyes on for a while. Hillary admitted that she really didn't think as much about the house as her future husband believed. "I casually mentioned that it was a sweet-looking little house and never gave it a second thought," she said (via The Knot.com). 

The pair wed in a small ceremony with just 15 guests

As a young married couple, Bill Clinton and Hillary Clinton threw themselves into law and politics. Clearly, the former president knew how to play the political game because just a few years out of law school, he was elected as Arkansas' attorney general in 1976. Two years later, Clinton became the second-youngest person ever to be elected governor of Arkansas (via Insider).

Hillary was working at a law firm by then, but when she became First Lady of Arkansas, she learned to weave her way around politics as well. With helping children as her passion, she co-founded the Arkansas Advocates for Children and Families, while also serving on the boards of Arkansas Children's Hospital, Arkansas Legal Services, and the Children's Defense Fund (via Biography).

In 1980, she had her first and only child when Chelsea Victoria Clinton was born. That was also when Bill lost his re-election bid for governor, as Arkansas governors only served two-year terms at the time. Never one to take defeat lying down, Bill ran again in 1982 and ended up being Arkansas' governor until he decided to run for president.

The 1992 campaign causes turmoil for the Clintons

Running for president of the United States is different from running for a governorship of a small state, and Bill and Hillary Clinton learned this first-hand in 1992. First, Hillary Clinton was a rarity — a woman who carried on a legal career while her husband was a governor. But it also turned out she was a woman wronged when an affair between her husband and an aspiring cabaret singer named Gennifer Flowers was brought to light. It was still the primaries and Clinton had not yet won the nomination, but the campaign knew they had to nip things in the bud fast (via The Washington Post).

Although humiliated, the power couple appeared on an episode of "60 Minutes" right after the Super Bowl, knowing America would be tuning in. Bill was contrite, and it was clear his wife was going to remain by his side, according to The Washington Post. Despite this scandal coming to light, Bill Clinton managed to secure the nomination and later the presidency.

Life in the White House tests Bill and Hillary Clinton's marriage

President Bill Clinton was determined to make sure his wife had a prominent role in his administration and named her to the Task Force on National Health Reform in 1993 (via Biography). However, it was another affair that would truly test what Hillary Clinton could stand in a relationship.

First, an Arkansas state employee named Paula Jones accused the president of sexual harassment when he was still Arkansas governor. Then, in 1998 when Clinton was in his second term in office, a White House intern named Monica Lewinsky claimed she had an affair with the president, reports Insider. When Clinton allegedly lied under oath about the affair, the House of Representatives impeached him. The Senate did not find him guilty, and he finished out his term, with his wife choosing to remain by his side. She explained her decision in her memoir, "Living History." 

"I didn't know whether our marriage could — or should — survive such a stinging betrayal, but I knew I had to work through my feelings carefully, on my own timetable." She said the decision to stay with her husband was one of "the most difficult decisions I have made in my life" (via Insider). Hillary then decided to forge ahead with her own political career. The couple found a residence in New York, and Hillary Clinton ran for a Senate seat from that state and won, according to Biography.

A new century and new roles for Bill and Hillary Clinton

While Hillary Clinton served in the Senate, Bill Clinton established the Clinton Foundation. Things seemed quiet between the couple as a new administration took hold and the former first lady became an active senator. Bill was right there by Hillary's side when she first ran for president in 2008 and again in 2016. He maintained their New York home while she spent a bulk of her time in Washington DC, first representing New York and then acting as Secretary of State from 2009-2013, according to Insider.

During that time, the couple became grandparents three times over to Chelsea's children – Charlotte, Aiden, and Jasper — according to CNN. As of this writing, Bill and Hillary have kept a united front since they both left Washington. However, they were back in their old stomping grounds together both in 2017 and again in 2021 for the presidential inaugurations of Donald Trump, and then Joe Biden (via The Hollywood Reporter, Insider).