Love, Self

Secret Love Lives Of US Presidents

Secret Love Lives of US Presidents

The secret love lives of our presidents are not only indicators of their character, but they can shape our values about sex and relationships as a nation. What's gone on behind closed doors at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue? Let's take a peek:

Door #1: Passionate Love Affairs

Politics tends to breed passion in almost any relationship, including love affairs. Especially important to a position as important as Leader of the Free World, a supportive and loving relationship tends to send a message of stability and values to the American people.

George Washington wrote his wife Martha such passionate love letters throughout their marriage that after his death she burned all the letters out of grief. Two were found later lost in an old desk. Washington wrote to his wife from the battlefield after their wedding, penning:

Fort Cumberland, July 20, 1758, We have begun our march to the Ohio. A courier is starting for Williamsburg, and I embrace the opportunity to send a few words to one whose life is now inseparable from mine. Since that happy hour when we made our pledges to each other, my thoughts have been continually going to you as to another Self.

Washington met Martha through mutual friends on a break after the French and Indian War and only visited her twice more before proposing marriage. The two were wed until Washington died in 1799 , which caused a grieving Martha to seal their marital bedroom and George's office, moving to another floor of the house where she resided until she passed away.

Gerald Ford and his wife Betty were married for 58 years until his passing. They endured the hardships of her mental breakdown in 1965, her radical mastectomy shortly after entering the White House, and her substance abuse issues that would inevitably lead her to found the Betty Ford Center for Drug and Alcohol Rehabilitation. David Kennerly, official White House photographer was quoted as saying, "They were a playful couple. They joked around with each other. His idea at the end of the day was to sit around with her, have dinner with her, just be with her."

Another picture of a loving marriage was that of Ronald and Nancy Reagan, who met while both were Hollywood actors. Reportedly, their proposal happened at legendary Hollywood restaurant Chasen's, where the actor simply said, "Let's get married," and Nancy replied, "Let's." The couple were married in 1952 and remained wed until Ronald passed away in 2004. The stories of their love are tender and caring, from leaving love notes for one another to Nancy taking riding lessons from her husband to get over her fear of horses. They always walked hand in hand. Their marriage survived breast and colon cancer and an assassination attempt on the President's life. A press secretary once said, "They never took each other for granted. They never stopped courting."

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Door#2: Rocky Relationships

Marriage can have its own stressors without having to add the power of the Presidency into the mix. Mary Todd and Abraham Lincoln reportedly had quite a stormy marriage. The issues in their marriage were numerous, starting with their very different upbringings, as Mary was a child of means and Abe famously grew up in poverty. They had different ways of dealing with arguments; Mary displayed a violent temper. She would throw things, and Abe would silently just walk away.

In the role of President, Abraham would travel six months out of the year, which Mary perceived as abandonment. Finances were also an issue: Mary often spent beyond their means and used shopping as a way to console herself. Both of them are reported to have had issues with depression. They remained married, however, and Mary was so bereaved when Abraham was assassinated that she didn't even attend the funeral.

Lyndon and Lady Bird Johnson were married for 38 years but that didn't translate to an issue-free marriage. Lyndon was known to be difficult and would embarrass Lady Bird in public by commenting on her attire and flaunting numerous affairs with other women.

And, affairs are a malady that has stricken many a Presidential union, which we find behind Door #3.

Door#3: Infidelity

It's unfortunately much easier to find examples of Presidential power and influence making it hard for a marriage to remain stable and for the Commander in Chief to stay faithful. As power is the ultimate aphrodisiac, there are many women who remain amenable to a dalliance with the wealthy and powerful, regardless of marital status.

Reports of affairs go all the way back to Thomas Jefferson, whose affair with Sally Hemings, a slave he met in Paris, led to the birth of five children and now-notorious birthright demands from her progeny. Other Presidents followed suit, from affairs with White House staff (Franklin D. Roosevelt, Dwight D. Eisenhower, Bill Clinton) to multiple affairs and dalliances a la John F. Kennedy. Warren Harding's infidelity may have been his undoing. While the official record is that he died of a heart attack, it's rumored that his wife poisoned him.

Politics and Your Bedroom

How does the passion of the Presidency affect your own bedroom? Although the U.S. is a free nation, many of the general population take latent cues from the White House. An example of this was the Kennedy administration. Think of the dichotomy that existed within that relationship and the split in American culture at that time: part of the country embraced the picture-perfect marriage while the groundswell of free love and sexual revolution was beginning to be heard. Clinton's infidelity caused one of the largest rifts in American opinions in history, with Americans split on whether he should be impeached or the issue ignored per other Presidential infidelities.