“What’s happening is exactly what she didn’t want to happen,” the source says. “They’ve literally become like the Kardashians: scandals, divorces, headlines.”
A never-ending string of controversies have trailed Trump throughout his campaign and presidency — from his “grab ’em by the p—y” comments, to the special counsel investigation into Russia’s election meddling, to the Karen McDougal and Stormy Daniels affair allegations. Most recently, the president’s eldest son, Donald Trump Jr., has been in the headlines after wife Vanessa filed for divorce and allegations surfaced that he had an affair with former Celebrity Apprentice contestant Aubrey O’Day.
Amid all the chaos, Melania is yearning for the peace and simplicity of her pre-White House life.
In September 2015, in her first major interview since her husband launched his bid for the presidency, Melania told PEOPLE that she filled her free time by playing tennis, doing Pilates and reading magazines, in addition to caring for her son Barron, now 11. A hands-on mother, Melania said she enjoyed helping her son with his homework and taking him to after-school activities.
Another source confirms that Melania loved her life before her husband ran for president. “She was able to do whatever she wanted and have her family with her much of the time,” the source says. In those days, she enjoyed spending time at her husband’s Mar-a-Lago estate in Palm Beach, Florida, during the week, while Trump remained in New York City. She would “shop, use the spa and have her family dine outside with her.”
“No one was paying attention to her two years ago,” the first source says. “They went about their day. Now it’s a 24/7 tornado. She hates it.”
The source notes that the first lady is intensely introverted and a creature of habit who “just wants to do her own thing.” As PEOPLE previously reported, the couple keeps separate bedrooms at their Bedminster, New Jersey, home because Melania “wants her own privacy,” according to a source close to the Trump family. Author Michael Wolff of the bestselling Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House also said the Trumps have separate bedrooms at the White House.
“She’s someone that likes routine. Early to bed, early to rise, take care of herself, etc. And he’s 24/7 on TV and electronics and thinking and scheming,” the first source says. “There’s not a lot of peaceful downtime. They are as a couple exactly how you think they would be: complete opposites. So this lifestyle doesn’t work for her.”
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Melania has notably kept a low profile as first lady, although she has attended some prominent public events with her husband — like the July G20 Summit in Hamburg, Germany, where she made small talk with Russian President Vladimir Putin at dinner. This week, she hosted tech executives at the White House for a roundtable discussion on her principal cause of cyberbullying.
But the source says Melania feels out of her element in moments like these.
“She doesn’t have a lot to say. She’s not a conversationalist overall. With her friends, yes … But at a state dinner or with other leaders, she’s not one to step up and lead conversation,” the source says. “She’s so soft-spoken. And so she’s just looking around at everything that’s going on and throwing her hands up.”
“She has the same opinion about everything that the public does,” the source adds, “What is going on! Why is this happening!”
- With reporting by DAN WAKEFORD and LINDA MARX