These U.S. Presidents Had the Worst Relationships With Their Wives

Presidential relationships are often scrutinized.

Donald and Melania Trump’s every move is in the spotlight nowadays, as were Barack and Michelle Obama’s when Barack Obama was still in office. Unfortunately, many presidents have not always had the best relationships with their wives, leading them to have extramarital affairs or other serious troubles behind closed doors.

Let’s take a quick look at the presidents who have had publicized troubles in their marriages, including one president who allegedly abused his wife and was rumored to have an affair with a man (No. 11).

1. Donald Trump

Melania Trump and Donald Trump departing from a plane.

Melania doesn’t seem comfortable around her husband. | Filippo Monteforte/AFP/Getty Images

Donald and Melania Trump’s marriage has made headlines a few times. Reports surfaced in early 2018 that Donald Trump had reportedly paid off a porn star to hide the affair he’d had with her in 2006 — a year after he married Melania Trump, and the same year their son was born. Melania Trump has been seen refusing to hold his hand and frequently pouts when she is with the president. This signals there could be many problems behind the scenes.

Next: This president’s scandal almost ruined his presidency. 

2. Bill Clinton

Bill and Hillary Clinton relax during a campaign stop.

Bill and Hillary have had their share of problems. | John Mottern/AFP/Getty Images

Bill Clinton’s infamous affair with Monica Lewinsky may be gone, but it won’t be forgotten. The scandal almost cost him the presidency after he lied under oath. Since then, multiple women have accused Clinton of sexual assault. His wife, Hillary Clinton, has stayed by his side through every scandal, but the couple has definitely had their share of problems.

Next: Some say this president’s wife poisoned him. 

3. Warren G. Harding

President Harding in a black and white portrait.

Warren G. Harding wasn’t faithful to his wife. | Topical Press Agency/Getty Images

Warren Harding was unfaithful to his wife on more than one occasion. He had affairs with multiple women throughout his life. One affair, with Carrie Fulton Phillips, was very well known. However, his wife, Florence Harding, reportedly had no idea. When Harding died, though, it was rumored that Florence had found out about the affair and killed him.

Next: This president’s various affairs were no surprise to the public. 

4. John F. Kennedy

President John F. Kennedy and First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy in a coach.

President John F. Kennedy cheated on Jackie. | National Archive/Newsmakers/Getty Images

Some would say JFK was the most desirable president the U.S. had ever seen. While he seemed to have it all, that power went to his head, causing serious marriage troubles. From Marilyn Monroe to the White House interns, JFK was no stranger to infidelity. His wife, Jackie Kennedy, was aware that her husband was unfaithful, but stayed married to him.

Next: This president tried to put his child’s mother in an insane asylum. 

5. Grover Cleveland

Grover Cleveland in a black and white portrait.

Grover Cleveland had a shady past. | National Archive/Newsmakers/Getty Images

Before Grover Cleveland was married, he had an illegitimate child with Maria Halpin, a woman he had been dating at the time. He attempted to take the child away from his mother and have him put in an orphanage. He also had the woman put in an asylum, but she was released when the director realized she was not insane. The scandal resurfaced when Cleveland was elected president, creating a lot of tension between him and his wife, Frances Folsom.

Next: This president and his wife stayed married but were very unhappy. 

6. Franklin Roosevelt

Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt with their dog.

Franklin Roosevelt and his wife had problems following the affair. | Keystone/Hulton Archive/Getty Images

Franklin Delano Roosevelt allegedly had a lifelong affair with his wife’s social secretary, Lucy Mercer. Eleanor Roosevelt threatened to divorce FDR, but the two stayed married, although they did not get along well after she learned of the scandal. FDR and Mercer continued their affair up until his death in 1945. But his infidelity created a very unhappy marriage.

Next: This president allegedly fathered his slave’s children. 

7. Thomas Jefferson

A portrait of Thomas Jefferson.

This was quite the scandal. | Hulton Archive/Getty Images

Thomas Jefferson allegedly had a relationship with one of his slaves at Monticello, Sally Hemings, soon after his wife passed away. He reportedly fathered multiple children with Hemings. While he technically did not have any marriage trouble, it was seen as disrespectful to his deceased wife. Sneaking around with slaves was largely looked down upon during Jefferson’s time.


Next: This former president made headlines for sexual harassment. 

8. George H.W. Bush

George H. Bush and his wife at a media celebration.

This former president was accused of sexual harassment. | Michael Loccisano/Getty Images

George H.W. Bush’s marriage was put to the test in 2017 when multiple women came forward accusing him of sexual harassment. Actress Heather Lind said he grabbed her behind while his wife stood beside him. Actress Jordana Grolnick said her experience was very similar to Lind’s. Since then, more women have also accused the former president of harassment. A spokesperson for Bush apologized on his behalf. There was no word on how his wife took the news.

Next: Besides an alleged affair, this president and his wife disagreed on two important issues. 

9. George W. Bush

The Bushes depart the White House in 2009.

They have extremely different beliefs. | Mike Wilson/AFP/Getty Images

George W. Bush allegedly had an affair with a stripper while he was married to Laura Bush. However, the accusations were never confirmed. One area where the two’s marriage was definitely put to the test was their stances on gay marriage and abortion rights. Laura Bush recently broke away from her husband, saying that she supports both of those things, while her husband does not. However, they do both agree to disagree.

Next: This president had a 30-year affair. 

10. Lyndon B. Johnson

Lyndon Baines Johnson addresses the nation on his first Thanksgiving Day.

Lyndon B. Johnson wasn’t the most faithful husband. | Keystone/Getty Images

Lyndon Johnson had years-long affairs with multiple women. He reportedly had a 30-year affair with a woman named Alice Glass. Lady Bird Johnson, Lyndon Johnson’s wife, was aware of the affair with Glass. She pretended as though her husband was faithful, but behind closed doors, the two did not have a good relationship. Later, a woman named Madeleine Brown came forward and said that she and Johnson had a 20-year affair.

Next: This president was labeled a misogynist and allegedly abused his wife. 

11. Richard Nixon

Richard Nixon addressing the public on television.

Was there any love or trust in his marriage? | Keystone/Getty Images

For years, rumors swirled about Richard Nixon’s loveless marriage to his wife, Pat Nixon. He was called a misogynist and reportedly abused his wife. The two supposedly slept in separate bedrooms and took separate vacations. At one point, there were rumors of Nixon having an affair with another man.

Next: This president tried to deny his infidelity for years. 

12. Dwight Eisenhower

Dwight Eisenhower and his family in a library.

The Eisenhowers did not have the perfect marriage. | Hulton Archive/Getty Images

Dwight Eisenhower denied an affair with his aide, Kay Summersby, for years. However, when she was dying, she published a book of memoirs all about forgetting her love affair with Eisenhower. There is no word on whether or not Eisenhower’s wife, Mamie Eisenhower, was aware of the affair while it was occurring. However, it is clear from his infidelity that he did not have a great relationship with her.

Next: Historians cannot tell a lie about this president’s difficult marriage.

13. Abraham Lincoln

Mary Todd had erratic behaviors and likely suffered from mental illness. | CBS Evening News via YouTube

Abraham Lincoln and Mary Todd’s marriage got off to a rough start when Lincoln broke off their engagement. Over a year later, they reunited and quickly wed, but their marriage was less than perfect. Following the death of their 11-year-old son, Willie, Todd reportedly developed extremely erratic behaviors and, some historians speculate, mental illnesses like depression and anxiety that placed a significant strain on their relationship. Following Lincoln’s assassination and the death of a second son, Todd was ultimately committed to a mental institution where she attempted to take her own life twice. She was eventually released into the custody of her sister, with whom she lived until her death.

Next: This president’s wife reportedly had an affair with a famous actor. 

14. Ronald Reagan

Ronald Reagan makes an announcement from his desk at the White House.

Ronald and Nancy Reagan came with their share of infidelity. | Hulton Archive/Getty Images

Ronald and Nancy Reagan each had some skeletons in their closets. Reagan allegedly raped actress Selene Walters in 1952, the same year he married Nancy Reagan. Walters described the encounter in a 1991 book. Reagan was never charged with any crime. Nancy Reagan supposedly had an affair with Frank Sinatra while she and Ronald Reagan were married.

Next: That wasn’t the only thing in Reagan’s personal life that stood out. 

15. Reagan is also the only president (besides Trump) who was divorced

Ronald Reagan at the end of his presidency.

He had previously been married. | Carlos Shiebeck/AFP/Getty Images

Reagan’s presidency was unique in that he was the only president to have a divorce under his belt when he was elected. He was married to Jane Wyman from 1940 to 1949. Their daughter, Christine, passed away, which tore apart their marriage. Plus, the two had careers that were headed in different directions. Reagan married Nancy Davis in 1952.

Next: What explains so much infidelity? 

16. Why were so many presidents unfaithful?

Ronald Reagan smiling while in a suit and tie.

Could authority and power have anything to do with it? | Keystone/Hulton Archive/Getty Images

It’s hard to believe so many presidents could step out on their first ladies. However, it could be because of an abuse of power that presidents got away with things like extramarital affairs. In the case of George H. Bush and possibly Ronald Reagan, some presidents may have gotten away with sexual harassment or assault, too. Regardless, many presidents had troubling marriages — and most troubles can be chalked up to infidelity.

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