Melania’s Grim Childhood Reveals Why She Married Someone Like Donald Trump

You know her as the fashionable first lady who’s often overshadowed by her boisterous husband. And many eagle-eyed photographers have captured Melania Trump looking quite detached from Donald Trump when it comes to his presidency. While many have speculated about whether their marriage is on the rocks, especially following the Stormy Daniels allegations, we know there’s another side to Melania that has yet to be uncovered.

She grew up in a foreign country and had model aspirations. But what was the first lady’s childhood really like? Here are the details and what they can tell us about her marriage.

1. Melania grew up in a Communist-style apartment and always dreamed of moving away

Sevnica, Slovenia

Despite the charming town square of Sevnica, Slovenia, Melania Trump dreamed of moving away. | JimmyLung/iStock/Getty Images

A life of luxury certainly wasn’t something Melania was used to until she met Donald. Daily Mail explains the first lady grew up in the small country of Slovenia, which was then part of Communist-run Yugoslavia. Yugoslavia was relatively open with the West, with its citizens able to freely travel. But living in a dictatorship still had its challenges.

As for Melania’s family, she, her sister, and her parents all lived in Communist-style apartment housing that overlooked industrial landscapes of smokestacks and factories. As Melania’s friend Mirjana Jelancic recalls, “Even as a child, she dreamed of moving.”

Next: Thanks to her father, their family wasn’t as poor as others. 

2. Her father was active in the Communist Party, which helped him get a good job

Viktor Knavs and Amalija Knavs, the parents of US First Lady Melania Trump step off Air Force One

Her father was a member of the League of Communists when Melania Trump was young. | Mandel Ngan/AFP/Getty Images

While many of Slovenia’s residents weren’t well off when Melania was young, her father’s association with the Communist Party helped their family immensely. According to Town & Country, Trump campaign spokeswoman Hope Hicks says Viktor Knavs, Melania’s father, had never been an active member. But Daily Mail says documents show Viktor was indeed a listed member of the League of Communists at the time.

Viktor didn’t advertise his political standing, but it became obvious to neighbors and friends. He and Melania’s mother were both holding down some of the best jobs in town because of it, which kept their heads above water.

Next: This is what Melania’s mother did for a living. 

3. And her mother worked as a pattern maker in a factory

Viktor and Amalija Knavs, the parents of US First Lady Melania Trump

Amalija Knavs had one of the better jobs at the factory. | Mandel Ngan/AFP/Getty Images

Melania’s mother, Amalija, is certainly living a different life now than she was back when her daughters were young. Heavy reports she worked in a Slovenian textile factory, where her income wasn’t as low as some other jobs. Daily Mail even notes the state-owned children’s clothing manufacturer where she worked had 1,200 workers total and was their small town’s best employer.

Before the factory, Amalija reportedly harvested red onions for work, which certainly yielded less income. And she hand-sewed her daughter’s clothes, so they always looked presentable in town.

Next: Ever since she was a child, Melania loved this aspect of modeling.

4. Melania ‘loved the attention’ modeling gave her, says her best friend

Melania Trump in 1977

Melanija Knavs stands front and center in 1977. | STR/AFP/Getty Images

Her striking looks garnered attention even when she was as young as 5, Daily Mail says. She and her older sister, Ines, both participated in the state-owned company fashion show — a huge deal for a town with few opportunities. And Melania’s best childhood friend, Nena, was also one of the few chosen children to take part in the event.

Nena, Melania, and Ines were selected twice to model, and the kids were taken by train to Belgrade to strut down the catwalk alongside more experienced adult models. As Nena recalls, “We loved the attention obviously — and being on stage in front of the audience.”

Next: Melania’s career didn’t always come easy.

5. Even with her strong work ethic, modeling was tough for Melania

Donald Trump and then-girlfriend Melania Knauss, 2002.

Dating Donald Trump (pictured in 2002) gave Melania a higher profile. | Matt Campbell/AFP/Getty Images

Melania’s childhood friend Mirjana Jelancic says the first lady was always kind, hard-working, and driven when it came to pursuing her passions, People reports. Her first real modeling gig was at age 16, which is when she began traveling around Europe and learning additional languages, including English, French, German, and Italian.

By 1996, Melania was set to move to New York to pursue her dreams — though they didn’t come easy. When she met Donald, however, Vanity Fair notes their union gave her new modeling opportunities she certainly never had in her home country.

Next: Could this strange reason be why Melania married Donald?

6. Donald and Melania’s father have plenty of similarities

Viktor and Amalija Knavs, the parents of US First Lady Melania Trump.

Viktor Knavs and Donald Trump have similar personalities. | Mandel Ngan/AFP/Getty Images

Viktor doesn’t just look like Donald Trump — he also has the same demeanor, says Melania. Heavy reports that Melania thinks both her father and her husband are “very smart and very capable.” And even though Donald grew up rich while Viktor had to work for every penny he had, Melania says they have the same values and traditions.

More modeling opportunities aside, perhaps this is why she married someone like Donald.

Next: Here’s how Melania really feels about her husband. 

7. Is Melania truly happy as Donald’s wife?

Donald and Melania Trump

The Trumps generally don’t appear very happy. | Drew Angerer/Getty Images

Here’s the million dollar question: Does Melania actually like being married to the president? We remember how long it took the first lady to actually move into the White House. She claims it was for Barron’s sake, of course. But many speculated that she wanted no part in any of her husband’s political affairs after all.

Newsweek mentions several occasions where Melania looks uneasy while with her husband. And many folks have shared photos of her looking less than enthused. She says she’s honored to be America’s first lady, but many believe she got more than she bargained for when marrying her husband.

Next: Here’s why friends say Donald and Melania are a perfect match.

8. Friends say they’re a perfect match

Donald Trump's face close up panning to Melania.

A match made in heaven? | Giphy

In addition to the father resembelance, Melania prefers not to be in the spotlight, instead allowing Donald to have the attention. This is why some of their friends say they’re perfect for each other. One of the couple’s friends, William Eubanks, is reported in Vanity Fair as saying Melania has no problem letting her husband take the lead. “She enjoys her role of stepping back and letting him take center stage,” said Eubanks.

Next: Here’s what Trump loves most about his wife. 

9. Melania is less needy than his other wives

Melania applauds while sitting down.

She can hold her own. | Giphy

Seeing as this is Donald’s third marriage, he’s chosen someone who appears to be much different than Ivana and Marla. While his previous two wives seemed to be more high maintenance, The New Yorker reports Melania says she’s “not a nagging wife.” Donald has reportedly not taken much interest in her home country of Slovenia or her culture, but for Melania, that’s OK. “I’m not that kind of wife who would say, ‘Learn this’ or ‘Learn that’,” she says. As far as the publication could tell, she doesn’t even tease Donald, but rather obediently compliments him.

Next: Donald loves when Melania does this.

10. Donald loves when Melania praises him

Trump and Melania departing from a plane.

She knows just how to flatter him. | Jim Watson/AFP/Getty Images

Going along with Melania’s seemingly obedient attitude toward her husband, Michael D’Antonio, author of The Truth About Trump, says he noticed something troubling about their relationship, Vanity Fair reports. D’Antonio says when he met Donald and Melania, Donald said to his wife, “Tell him I’m a really good husband.” He repeated this to her twice before she finally told D’Antonio her husband was great, but it seemed to be dragged out of her.

The author also said Melania had another wifely duty — praising Donald’s fame by telling him he was more well known than other actors or rich folks.

Next: They share classic ideas about running their household.

11. The couple believes in classic gender roles in their household

Donald Trump, Barron Trump and Melania Trump walking across a lawn.

Despite everything, she focuses on raising her son herself. | Gustavo Caballero/Getty Images

As Melania puts it to Parenting, her first job is to be a full-time mom for Barron. She’s the primary caretaker for him as Donald goes about his business life — and even when she’s pursuing her own passions, she’s still the one Barron sees on a consistent basis.

And when Melania was asked if Donald helped with childcare duties, she responded with, “He didn’t change diapers and I am completely fine with that. … It’s very important to know the person you’re with. And we know our roles.” Even with her domestic duties, the first lady still maintains that she thrives on her do-it-yourself outlook on life.

Next: How Melania is adopting some of her husband’s habits

12. Melania has adopted many of her husband’s habits

First Lady Melania Trump is seen the Salute to Our Armed Services Inaugural Ball.

Melania Trump has picked up a lot of habits from her husband. | Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images

The New Yorker reported that Melania “appears to have internalized many aspects of Donald’s culture.” She reportedly refrains from drinking (as does Donald Trump). She also doesn’t break ranks with the Trump camp, even when asked about topics she could easily joke about, such as his unpopular hairstyle. Additionally, “she has taken on her husband’s signature pout,” according to The New Yorker. However, Melania made a point of telling CNN, “I don’t agree with everything that he says, but you know, that is normal. I’m my own person; I tell him what I think.”

Next: Who insiders consider to be the real wife.

13. White House insiders see Ivanka as Trump’s ‘real wife’

Donald Trump kisses his daughter Ivanka Trump

It’s very odd to call someone’s daughter their “real wife.” | Brendan Smialowski/AFP/Getty Images

It’s no secret that Donald Trump favors his daughter, Ivanka Trump. He and the first daughter have a close relationship. Their relationship is so close, in fact, that members of the White House inner circle have referred to her as Trump’s “real wife,” according to Fire and Fury author, Michael Wolff.

In the book, Wolff claims Trump treats Hope Hicks, his communications director, like his daughter, and Ivanka as if she were his wife, reports GQ. “[Hope] Hicks was in fact thought of as Trump’s real daughter, while Ivanka was thought of as his real wife,” wrote Wolff.

Additional reporting by Sheiresa Ngo

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