Bill and Hillary Clinton: Marriage Lessons We Can Learn

The Clintons have been in the public eye for decades. They’ve been through all sorts of scandals and scrutiny during this time, but have still managed to stay married for more than 40 years.

Whether their unity is true love or some sort of elaborate stunt is a matter of opinion, but you can’t deny the commitment. It also goes to show a lasting relationship is about a lot more than making googly eyes at each other. Let’s see what else we can learn from one of the nation’s most powerful couples.

It’s normal to feel unsure

Bill and Hillary Clinton relax during a campaign stop in 1992

It’s okay to take your time when committing to marriage. | JOHN MOTTERN/AFP/Getty Images

Most people are familiar with experiencing unease prior to taking an important relationship step, whether it’s saying “I love you” or deciding to move in together. The pressure is even more intense when it comes to getting married, and Hillary Clinton is familiar with the feeling. In an interview with Lena Dunham, Clinton revealed she denied her would-be-husband’s proposal twice before saying yes. “You really do just sort of say, ‘OK, I think I know what it’s gonna be like, but I don’t know for sure. Let’s find out,'” she said.

The balance between your careers isn’t set in stone

Bill and Hillary Clinton holding hands at a steak fry in Iowa

There should be a great work and life balance. | Steve Pope/Getty Images

Hillary Clinton’s path shows a woman’s job can take precedent in a heterosexual couple, but also it also demonstrates the balance between partners’ careers can shift. While Bill Clinton took the lead when he first forayed into politics with a 1974 congressional run, he acknowledged his wife now deserves her turn in an interview with Time. “I told her when she got elected to the Senate from New York that she’d given me 26 years, and so I intended to give her 26 years,” he said in the piece.

Infidelity doesn’t have to be a deal breaker

US President Bill Clinton pauses a moment while being asked about former White House intern Monica Lewinsky at a joint press conference with Italian Prime Minister Massimo D'Alema 05 March in the White House in Washington, DC. Clinton said he hoped Monica Lewinsky would have "a good life" and get any help she might need to recover from the traumatic White House sex scandal.

Only you and your partner can deicide what is an actual deal breaker. | Stephen STEPHEN JAFFE/AFP/Getty Images

Cheating is a tricky subject because a lot of people think they have a zero-tolerance stance, until it happens to them. According to Psychology Today, even happy marriages are susceptible to infidelity and, in some cases, a marriage can actually get stronger after the recovery process. And it is most definitely a process. One 2008 study reported a three-pronged approach of managing the initial shock, examining contributing factors, then deciding on an end result together can be effective for couples who’ve had infidelity issues.

Armed with this knowledge, the Clintons’ decision to stay together seems a lot less fishy. According to a 60 Minutes interview with Bill Clinton, they took things slow and went through both individual and couples’ counseling.

Time together isn’t a given, so enjoy it

Hillary and Bill Clinton together in Martha's Vineyard

Don’t take time together for granted. | STEPHEN JAFFE/AFP/Getty Images

Both Clintons have juggled busy schedules for a good portion of their lives, which means they don’t always get to see much of each other. In 2014, prior to launching her bid for the White House, Hillary Clinton sat down with Good Morning America, talking a little bit about spending quality time with her husband. “It’s probably as much time as we’ve had together for a number of years,” she said during the interview. “Because we’re always working hard, we like working hard, but we also really relish the time together.”

As busy as everyone’s schedule is, spouses have to make time for each other in order to make things work. Cognitive Therapy Associates says neglecting your partner risks ruining your relationship because it diminishes your connection. For many couples, setting aside a designated date night every week is really helpful in this department.

You deserve some privacy

Bill and Hillary Clinton dancing | Paul J. Richards/AFP/Getty Images

Alone time together should be well spent. | Paul J. Richards/AFP/Getty Images

Lastly, every couple deserves some time away from the spotlight, even when their careers involve media exposure. One piece from The New York Times reminds none of us really knows what goes on behind closed doors, which isn’t a bad thing. “And when we come to our sweeping conclusions, we’re not perceiving but projecting,” the story reads. Just because someone asks a prying question doesn’t mean you have to answer it.

Follow Christine on Twitter @christineskopec