HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON AND BILL CLINTON
Married Since: 1975
Family Album: One daughter
Bill's philandering was humiliation on a global scale—but there was an unexpected benefit: Hillary got the chance to fire up her own political ambition. "The country was most favorable toward Hillary when she was being victimized," says family therapist Terrence Real, author of The New Rules of Marriage. "Her difficulty is the public perception of her as an ice maiden. When she opened up, it rebalanced her and made her someone that you could feel something for." In 2000, Clinton rode that wave of sympathy to the Senate. But if she captures the White House, will Bill be able to keep his own ego in check and become the supportive spouse a president needs?
Despite endless commentary from fans and foes, the Clinton union remains a tantalizing mystery. It's hard to tell whether this is a marriage of passion, or simply a partnership based on political convenience. Both Clintons have said they have benefited from marital counseling, and Hillary has admitted to extensive soul-searching about her marriage. In her 2003 memoir, Living History, she wrote: "The most difficult decisions I have made in my life were to stay married to Bill and to run for the Senate from New York." She hasn't said much about the subject since then. Even longtime Clinton advisor James Carville, not shy with his opinions, refuses to dish. "It's uranium-242," he told The Washington Post. "You pick that stuff up and it'll blow up in your face."
But the couple earns kudos from marriage experts for sticking it out. "We know more about the Clintons than anybody—and the more I know about each of them, the more enthusiastic I am about what they have been able to do," says Frank Pittman, a psychiatrist and family therapist in private practice in Atlanta and the author of Private Lies: Infidelity and the Betrayal of Intimacy."That's what made it possible for her to overcome all that stupidity. They were best friends."