Thursday 23 November 2017

Melania's big move to the White House

Barron is finished school, so FLOTUS will have to get used to quality time with Donald again. Our reporter offers some tips

Moving in: Barron and Melania are greeted by Donald Trump at the White House
Moving in: Barron and Melania are greeted by Donald Trump at the White House
The First Couple at the inauguration ball
US President Donald Trump and First Lady Melania Trump on a visit to Trump's Mar-A-Lago estate

Tanya Sweeney

School's out for summer - and while this means languid days of sun-soaked freedom for most, a big move is on the cards for Melania and Barron Trump.

The First Lady famously resisted a move to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue when husband Donald was made US president in January (on the grounds that Barron's school was in New York), but resistance has proved futile. She and Barron (14) bade farewell to Trump Towers - where they lived at a reported taxpayer cost of $146,000 (€130,000) a day - and touched down in DC earlier this week in time for Donald's 71st birthday.

"Looking forward to the memories we'll make in our new home," read Melania's upbeat tweet, which certainly has all the markings of a woman hopeful for domestic harmony. Yet that recent clip of Melania batting her husband's hand away on a trip to Israel hinted there may already be tension between the First Couple.

In the coming weeks, it will be interesting to see what sort of FLOTUS Melania will become in her rightful home. Will she be an Eleanor, a woman as formidable and influential as her husband? Will she be a Michelle, and take her chosen 'cause' - which is, ironically, cyberbullying - and grab the opportunity to make a difference with both hands? Or will she be a Jackie and stick to matters of style, redecorating her new home, and hankering after a life of familial quietude?

Only time will tell, but for now, the First Couple are moving into significant territory. After being used to her own space for months, Melania could well find the coming weeks more, eh, taxing than she ever could have imagined.

"There are a range of positive reasons for couples to be together in terms of more intimacy, closeness, support, acknowledgement and appreciation of each other," says psychologist Brendan Madden. "When a couple comes together, especially after being apart, they have to give up certain freedoms, but demands and expectations also arise. They can't assume that things will go back to the way they were."

In this new world order, we've drawn a few golden rules to help Donald and Melania make memories galore in their new home. Who knows, some of them might even be good ones.

When your husband plays golf on the weekends (as in, every weekend)

After promising "not to play much golf", Trump took 16 trips to his beloved Trump International Golf Club in Mar-A-Lago in his first 100 days as president. And it's safe to assume that not even a reunion with his wife and teenage son will put a dent in his love of the game.

"This advice is relevant to a lot of women - whether it's GAA or golf, it's a good idea to show an interest in the sport, especially if your partner is particularly dedicated to it," says family therapist David Kavanagh.

Managing the housework

Call it a hunch, but we're willing to bet that Donald and Melania have never had a row over whose turn it is to tackle the bins. But according to the experts, this does come up as a huge issue for cohabiting couples so Melania would do well to be forewarned. "Mapping out expectations around housework is crucial for every couple," warns Kavanagh. "Even when both men and women work full time, women tend to do much more of the housework than men. It reduces the amount of sex that the couple have because often the women are too exhausted, and a bit resentful towards their partner." Donald, consider yourself duly warned.

Curbing your partner's Tweeting

Is Donald's 'covfefe' carry-on, and his trigger-happy tweets a source of embarrassment for his wife, as rumours suggest? Perhaps we shall never know.

In any case, Kavanagh issues a warning: "It's important that people don't spend every night watching TV when they move in together. Smartphone use is really important in relationships too, it needs to be monitored and managed. If you're trying to have a conversation with someone and all you can hear are beeps from their phones, you need to try setting time aside where all phones are turned off."

And, in the likely event that Donald winds up having a late-night Twitter rant, Melania would probably do well, for her own emotional wellbeing, to shut down her social media, stick on Netflix and watch House Of Cards, where things are much less fraught.

Make your mark

If you're moving into a space that your partner has already inhabited, putting a personal spin on the space will help it feel like home. In any case, Melania has the jump on this one, and has hired interior designer Tham Kannalikham, a Laotian-American designer who is known for a classical aesthetic and keeping a low profile. Perhaps the Trumps are trying subdued taste on for size.

Sleeping together again

Donald is not averse to spouting hot air during waking hours, so who's to say he's any different when he sleeps? "This is obviously a big challenge for a couple who have lived apart for a while, this getting used to sleeping with someone again," acknowledges Madden. "People develop different types of night-time rituals and routines, and a certain amount of flexibility is required." It has been reported that Donald and Melania have long slept in separate beds.

"There are no hard and fast rules that you're 'supposed' to do anything in a relationship, and if this means sleeping comfortably in separate rooms, so be it. Otherwise, if you sleep with someone who snores or moves a lot, you'll end up resenting them if you become sleep deprived."

A golden rule for harmony

According to the experts, managing one's expectations is paramount. Trump is likely to have pulled out all the stops in a bid to impress in the early days, but no one, not even Trump, can keep the private-jet-and-candlelit-dinner thing going. "If couples don't sit down together and map out their expectations and talk at length about how much space they want, it can lead to a very disappointing living experience," says Kavanagh. And when you live with a guy that knows the codes, keeping matrimonial harmony should probably trump a lovely loo.

Have a 'girl cave'

Even in a place like the White House, in which lack of space isn't a factor, having a room of one's own, where husbands are verboten, comes in fairly handy for greasing the wheels of marital harmony. Michelle Obama may have had her veggie patch and Eleanor Roosevelt her kitchen, but Melania Trump has opted for the full-on Mariah Careys with a pimped-out toilet instead. According to reports, Melania will install a "glam room" with "the most perfect lighting scenario", designated for hair, make-up and wardrobe. There, she will spend at least an hour and 15 minutes for what her long-time makeup artist, Nicole Bryl, calls "uninterrupted focus" every day to Make America Glam Again.

Irish Independent

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