It’s easy to think of presidential marriages in U.S. history as a bit, well, archaic. Minus a few notable exceptions, the role American first ladies have played has been largely ceremonial. Presidential couples can seem symbolic of a majorly hetero, (mostly) whitewashed vision of marriage, complete with a White House-size picket fence. He runs the so-called free world; she runs an endless parade of parties and cotillions, yachts and polo matches. (Yes, that is me paraphrasing Rose in Titanic.)
Of course, these historic partnerships have been a product of their times. Throughout history, first ladies have used their position to make meaningful contributions to how our country is run — and, for better or worse, the values it promotes — even if the history books don’t always tell it that way.
Beyond their political roles, some first couples have arrived at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue bearing memorable love stories too. Whether a modern-day power couple or a famous couple with a more complicated legacy — and at least one presidential pairing we’d rather forget entirely — here are the stories behind six famous presidential marriages.