All the Bizarre Details of Vice President Mike Pence’s Ultra-Conservative Marriage

You likely know more than you need to about the POTUS’ multiple marriages — but, contrary to popular belief, he doesn’t have the oddest relationship in the White House. Vice President Mike Pence and his wife, Karen Pence, have an extremely conservative and, to the average person, unconventional marriage.

We’ll explore their engagement, religious beliefs, and the interesting details about their marriage that are sure to shock you (page 4).

They had a unique proposal

Mike Pence and Karen Pence standing with their right hands over their hearts.

They had a somewhat romantic proposal. | Michael Heiman/Getty Images

Eight months after they begun dating, Karen took a small gold cross, engraved the word “yes” on it, and kept it with her at all times anticipating Mike’s proposal. Nearly a month later, Mike got down on one knee while the two were on an outing feeding ducks.

The Washington Post reported Mike hollowed out two loaves of bread. He put a bottle of champagne in one, hid the ring box in the other, and waited for Karen to discover them while she chipped at the loaves to feed the birds. The engaged couple then shellacked the bread so they could save it as a memento of the day.

Next: The major way they differ from the Trumps.

They’re extremely religious

Mike Pence and his wife stand together at a ball.

They have strong religious beliefs. | Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Despite the president’s religious ambiguity, the Pences are vocal about their religious beliefs, which drive much of their relationship. From the start, Karen said that their relationship to the backseat to their faith. She told CBN that Mike, her boyfriend at the time, asked her to always put God before him.

Mike was born Irish-Catholic and both were practicing Roman Catholics. However, they left the Catholic church and converted to Evangelical Christianity during their marriage. Mike has described himself as “a Christian, a conservative, and a Republican, in that order.”

Next: Pence’s personal rule has sparked significant controversy.

He won’t dine with other women

Mike Pence speaks at the vice presidential debate.

Mike is extremely devoted to his wife. | Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Mike told the Hill in 2002 that if he eats alone with a woman it’s always his wife, Karen. In strict evangelical circles, abstaining from being alone with a woman while eating, traveling, or drinking is called the “Billy Graham rule,” which comes from a story Pastor Billy Graham told of finding a woman attempting to “destroy his ministry” with temptation.

Next: His pet nickname for his wife is a strange one.

He calls his wife ‘mother’

Mike Pence is embraced by his mother, Nancy Pence.

Mike Pence is extremely close to his wife and mother. | Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

In “The Radical Crusade of Mike Pence,” Rolling Stone shares a tale recounted by a legislator seated next to Mike at a dinner for Democratic leaders held in the governor’s mansion.

Mike reportedly shouted “Mother, Mother, who prepared our meal this evening?” to Karen. While the legislators glanced at one another, hoping it was a joke, Mike shouted again, “Mother, Mother, whose China are we eating on?” to which Karen obliged, telling the story of where their dishes came from.

Next: How Mike often refers to Karen.

He also refers to her as the family’s ‘prayer warrior’

Vice President Mike Pence walks into the Rose Garden.

He has spoken highly of his wife. | Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

When the Pences began practicing evangelical Christianity, a former colleague told the New York Times how big a part of Mike’s “faith journey” Karen was. Multiple sources have confirmed he refers to her not only as “Mother” but as his family’s “prayer warrior.”

The Pences, despite experiencing fertility issues early on, have two daughters and one son.

Next: One of the most conservative rules of their marriage.

He won’t go to any events where alcohol is present without his wife

Mike Pence appearing on a talk show in New York City.

He might reject certain invitations. | Astrid Stawiarz/Getty Images

Following the “Billy Graham rule,” similar to how Mike won’t dine with a woman alone who isn’t Karen, he chooses not to attend functions or parties without her. According to The New Yorker, if alcohol is served and “people are being loose,” Mike prefers Karen be there and close to him at all times.

Critics have called this practice inherently sexist, as it appears to paint women as temptresses and men as passive bystanders: “… it’s another [thing] entirely to avoid all women as a group and as a rule because of the abstract possibility of sexual temptation,” The New Yorker piece points out.

Next: Few things can come between them.

The two are ridiculously close

Mike Pence dancing with his wife while Donald Trump dances with Melania.

They put a lot of effort into their marriage. | Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images

Ken Blackwell, a senior domestic policy adviser on Trump’s transition team, once told the Washington Post “You can’t get a dime between” Mike and Karen. The couple cycles together and The Washington Post described Karen as Mike’s “gut check and shield.”

“Everything we do in public life, we do together. I can’t imagine it any other way,” Mike told the IndyStar, calling Karen “the best part of my life.”

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