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What Was Franklin And Eleanor Roosevelt's Relationship Really Like?

Updated June 7, 2019 89.7k views13 items

The Roosevelts were the ultimate power couple during the first half of the 20th century. Both left important political legacies: Franklin Roosevelt was the president who led the United States through the Great Depression and WWII, and fascinating facts about Eleanor Roosevelt's life include how she organized press conferences at the White House exclusively for women journalists. She was a champion for women's rights and racial equality, and she was appointed as the first female deputy director of the Office of Civilian Defense. Political achievement and support for each other's ambitions defined both of their lives, but Franklin and Eleanor's private lives were far less successful than their public personas.

Their marriage began well, and the admiration they had for one another was undeniable, but infidelities and betrayal forced their relationship to change from romantic adoration to mutual respect for one another's intellectual and political ambitions. They had romantic relations with other people during the span of their marriage and lived the majority of their personal lives separate from one another, but they remained a unit to solidify their legacies.

  • Eleanor Was Close To Her Bodyguard, And Some Claim Their Relationship May Have Been Romantic

    Like Franklin, Eleanor looked outside the bonds of marriage for emotional partnerships. Earl Miller, a New York state trooper, became her bodyguard in 1928. Miller maintained a profound, supportive presence in Eleanor's life for several years. They rode horses together and took walks through the woods.

    Miller encouraged Eleanor to take pride in who she was; whenever he was around, she supposedly felt confident and confided in him. It is suspected they may have been in love with one another.

  • A European Royal Was Referred To As Franklin's 'Girlfriend'

    Among the women with whom Franklin supposedly had extramarital affairs was a European royal, Princess Märtha of Sweden. She spent time with the Roosevelts during WWII, and though some historians are uncertain how to characterize their relationship precisely, many have noticed the princess had particularly enjoyed Franklin's company.

    The flirtation between the pair was so apparent that White House staff referred to the princess as "the president's girlfriend." Franklin even took her on a yacht without his wife.

  • Photo: Unknown / Wikimedia Commons / Public Domain

    Eleanor Thought Intimacy Was An 'Ordeal'

    Eleanor may have been excited to marry Franklin, but she was decidedly less enthusiastic about being intimate with him. She believed such activities were an "ordeal," an obligation that needed doing rather than done for pleasure.

    Despite her private views, Eleanor gave birth to six children over 10 years, five of whom lived to adulthood.

  • Their Relative, President Theodore Roosevelt, Stole The Spotlight At Their Wedding

    Franklin and Eleanor married in a private ceremony, but the bride and groom weren't the stars of their wedding. Eleanor's father, Elliott Roosevelt, had passed when she was 10, so his older brother, President Theodore Roosevelt, made a quick stop to be her surrogate father.

    On March 17, 1905, Teddy left New York City's St. Patrick's Day Parade and arrived at the small townhouse where the ceremony took place. The crowd loitering around the townhouse reportedly could be heard from inside, screaming, "We want Teddy!"

    Immediately after the wedding was over, Teddy left the house, and all the wedding guests followed suit, leaving Eleanor and Franklin standing alone.