A lot of Donald Trump’s inauguration ceremony was cringe-worthy. The stilted tone of his address was one of those things, with its negative focus.
Many people also felt uncomfortable with the interactions between Donald and Melania Trump. Social media was full of images, memes and stories featuring the new President disrespecting and ignoring his wife.
“If you didn’t know that [Donald and Melania Trump] were married, you wouldn’t know that they are married.”
Ms. Constantine said that she could detect no warmth or respect between the President and First Lady.
A second expert, Patti Wood, MS. CSP, agreed that there is something wrong in the Trump relationship. Ms. Wood looked at the same videos, and came to the conclusion that Trump’s interactions with his wife are stiff and uncomfortable.
The two experts began by watching a video from 2009, as the Obamas got out of their limousine for his inaugural speech. That was compared to a video of the Trumps arriving for the same event.
President Obama waited for his wife to come around the car, and held out his hand. They exchanged a smile and made eye contact. They clasped hands for just a brief second, then walked up the steps. The President had his wife slightly in front of him, escorting her safely and with dignity up to the top of the steps.
Mr. Trump’s arrival at his inauguration was vastly different. In the video we see him get out of the limo and immediately stride up the steps toward President Obama. Mrs. Trump is left on her own to round the back of the vehicle and climb the steps. It’s striking that there is no interaction between the Trumps. No eye contact, no smile, no shared mounting of the steps to their new home. She walks far behind him, like a servant.
Next we see Mr. Trump entering the White House. Again, he fails to acknowledge the presence of his wife. He simply turns and walks in. The Obamas each put a hand on Mrs. Trump’s back to escort her into the building.
The next video is also from Trump’s inauguration. As the two couples walk down the steps to stand at the podium, Barack Obama turns slightly toward his wife and the two simultaneously reach out to clasp hands. The President brings his wife’s hand to his lips. Both are smiling. At the same moment, Mrs. Obama briefly squeezes the hand of the uniformed guard beside her, showing her comfort and confidence at that moment.
The contrast with the Trumps is once again startling. They don’t hold hands. They don’t even look at each other. Mrs. Trump appears to have a slight, vague smile. Her husband is smiling more broadly, but is turned toward the Obamas rather than to his wife.
The final video snippets show a sharper sense of unease and inequality between the Trumps. In the first, he’s at a podium, while she stands off to one side, her hands held together in front of her (a posture that body language experts say describes anxiety and defensiveness.)
Mr. Trump invites his wife to speak, but she shakes her head in the negative, twice. Then he makes an abrupt motion with his hand toward the microphone, as if saying, “Get over here.” She slowly makes her way to the mic to speak. Her head is bowed.
And the last video is the saddest of all. We see Trump standing in front of a large group. Both his wife and daughter are behind him. The speaker says something and they smile. Melania’s smile is wide and natural. Trump turns and nods to the people behind him. She maintains her facial expression as he says something we can’t hear.
As he turns away from her again, her smile immediately drops, her gaze falls to her shoes and her head bows down. She is the image of defeat and sadness.
In the words of body language expert Susan Constantine:
“Melania is an object to Trump. I don’t see any warmth or true love and compassion in that relationship at all.”
President Trump is “gaslighting” the whole nation. I can’t imagine what it’s like to be married to him.
Featured image via YouTube screengrab.