Monday, Jan. 22, was Melania and Donald Trump’s 13th wedding anniversary. The first couple didn’t mention the occasion on social media, which one could blame on the distraction of the government shutdown. But when Melania’s communications director told CNN that she had also canceled her plans to join the president on his trip to Davos, Switzerland, later this week, others attributed their silence to marital strife.
Does a lack of special anniversary plans necessarily mean a marriage is on the rocks? Coming on the heels of headlines about Donald Trump’s alleged affair with porn star Stormy Daniels, that’s not a huge leap of logic to make. But for the sake of all the other married couples out there, Yahoo Lifestyle spoke to a couples’ therapist to find out.
“If your relationship is strong, then it would be more able to handle if you can’t spend the actual anniversary together,” Susan Pease Gadoua, a licensed therapist and co-author of The New “I Do,” tells Yahoo Lifestyle. “If the relationship is on shaky ground, then it could be really bad that they’re not spending that time together. It could be a real indication that things are in decline.”
There are some good excuses for not being able to be together on a special occasion like your anniversary — medical emergencies, family obligations, and business trips might all get in the way. The real question is whether it bothers the couple in question and whether they decide to celebrate at a different time instead.
“I don’t know that it’s the day that matters so much as honoring the passing of another year and feeling good about it,” Gadoua says. So if you decide to postpone the romantic dinner until an upcoming big vacation, that’s no big deal.
Anniversaries and other holidays are important because they’re times that remind people to reflect on how they’re doing. They’re also occasions when other people might decide to check in on the relationship too, which is certainly true in the case of the Trumps. Many noticed on Saturday that the first lady marked her first year in the White House by posting a photo of herself with a military escort during the inauguration, and she didn’t mention her husband at all.
This has been a year filled with many wonderful moments. I’ve enjoyed the people I’ve been lucky enough to meet throughout our great country & the world! pic.twitter.com/MMRi72ENd0
— Melania Trump (@FLOTUS) January 20, 2018
“Certainly the public is watching, and I think what we’ve seen so far is that this is not the most loving relationship on the planet,” Gadoua says. “They spend very little time together. If you compare them to the Obamas, it certainly doesn’t look like things are going well for them as a couple.”
That’s not to say this is for sure the case for the Trumps, but after the revelation of an extramarital affair, the offending spouse needs to go the extra mile to repair things.
“If [a cheating spouse] is interested in maintaining a good and healthy relationship, he would be telling her how important she is to him, but also showing her by treating her really well and going out of his way to be with her,” Gadoua says.
And here’s a hot tip: Showering a spouse with presents doesn’t count for much when you’ve done wrong.
“The gifts and flowers can actually be annoying if there’s no real feeling behind it,” she says. “I’ve had people get angry when they get gifts [that seem to imply] this will let them off the hook. It’s insulting.”
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