It was a Fashion Week party in 1998. Donald spotted model Melania Knauss across the room and he knew he needed to meet her.
But there was a problem - he was with a date. So Donald sent his date, Celina Midelfart, to the bathroom and approached the beautiful Melania, but she was not impressed. "I had heard he was a ladies' man, and so I said, 'I'm not one of the ladies," Melania told People.
Melania, who grew up in Slovenia, gained her confidence at a young age. In an interview with Parenting, Melania said, "I always liked myself. Even when other kids teased me, I didn't care. I knew what I wanted to do. I found my passion at such an early age. It helped with my confidence." She also shared her personal mantra: "Believe in yourself. Be proud of who you are, no matter who you are married to, are dating, or who your parents are, be your own person. And take care of yourself, because when you take care of yourself first, you will do a much better job taking care of others."
It was this confidence that caught Donald's eye, but it was also this confidence that detered her interest in him. As she told Harper's Bazaar: "He wanted my number, but he was with a date, so of course I didn't give it to him."
Even so, as she talked with Donald, Melania was impressed, "I was struck by his energy... He has an amazing sense of vitality."
Melania continued refusing to give her phone number to Donald, but finally agreed to accept his as a way to understand Donald's objective in asking. "If I give him my number, I'm just one of the women he calls... I wanted to know what his intention is... It tells you a lot from the man what kind of number he give you," she told GQ. What was she looking for? "If it was a business number, what is this? I'm not doing business with you." But Donald impressed her; he gave her all his phone numbers, "the office, Mar-a-Lago, home in New York, everything." So, she called him.
On their first date, Donald took her to dinner and to Moomba (the New York hot spot for stars in the late 90s). "We talked for almost the whole night," she told People. "It's really something special. Sometimes they say love is hard to find. When you meet the right person everything seems fantastic."
Even so, their courtship wasn't an easy road. Because of Donald's reputation, it was hard for Melania to trust his fidelity. Her former roommate, Matthew Atanian, admitted to GQ, "She had some trust issues with him at the beginning... She was telling me that she wouldn't have it, he was back to his old ways. She kept her apartment to have her own space because of this."
At one point, Melania even broke off her relationship with Donald. However, Donald has sworn to be faithful to Melania, which most likely had a hand in her decision to rekindle their relationship six months later.
The couple got married in 2005 in a fairytale wedding in Florida (with Melania wearing a 100,000 dollar Dior dress that took over 550 hours of embroidery to create). On her relationship, Melania says, "It's a different romance than maybe some other people [have] but he's [a] very different man anyway... but we have a great relationship and we are both very independent. We love what we do... and that's the most important [thing]. [We] have great quality time together."
How have Donald and Melania Trump kept their marriage strong and lasting for these 12 years? Here's what Melania has said about building a strong relationship:
1. Accept your husband for who he is
Melania recognizes that both she and Donald are independent people. She told Parenting that, in marriage, it's important not to expect the other person to be like you; you should expect them to be themselves. "You accept the person."
Melania says many people try to change their spouse after they get married, but it's important to understand the other person and choose to be married to that person and not try to change them into who you want them to become. "If you need to change someone it will never work. You will try your whole life and never succeed."
2. Pick quality time over quantity
Melania believes you shouldn't need to be with your spouse every minute of every day. The important time a husband and wife spend together should be "quality time instead of quantity."
She told Entertainment Tonight, "[Donald and I] love to go to the movies. We love to just have a dinner, the two of us with friends...We love to go to Mira-a-Lago, spend time [with] the three of us: Barron, Donald, and me together; playing sport; and just spending time together, no matter where [we] are just having a great time."
Melania also attributes her relationship's success to both parties recognizing their individual responsibilities within the relationship. "We know what our roles are and we are happy with them," she said. For her, this means that she does most of the caretaking for her son, "Little Donald." Melania doesn't employ a nanny because she wants to take her role as a mother herself. This way Donald can "work very hard from early in the morning till late in the evening." It makes her happy to support his passion for business.
4. Have separate bathrooms
But above all, what's Melania's secret to a happy marriage? Well, as reported by the Washington Post, Melania said, "We have our own bathrooms, so that's the key."