The Real Reason Marla Maples And Donald Trump Divorced

While Donald Trump continues to make headlines long after his presidency, especially with the public hearings of the January 6 committee, there's probably no one who knows what the former president is like behind closed doors better than his current and former wives. 

After 15 years of marriage to his first wife, Czech-American businesswoman and former model Ivana Trump, all the lessons learned during their time together still wasn't enough for a successful second marriage. Donald's second wife — American actress, model, and singer, Marla Maples – made headlines in the '90s with the messy beginnings of their affair turned relationship that played out while Donald was still married to Ivana. The incessant media coverage only ramped up when news of a Maples and Trump split hit airwaves. 

Six years together, almost four years of marriage, and one kid later, the former It couple still have sleuths trying to crack the story on what went wrong between the two. Here's what we know to be the truth behind why Donald Trump and Marla Maples called it quits.

Marla Maples and Donald Trump came from different worlds

Even at the peak of their relationship, Marla Maples acknowledged she and Donald Trump led different lifestyles. Maples was born in 1963 in Cohutta, Georgia, which reported a population of 700 people in 2020 — the highest recorded number since the town's beginnings. "I'm like, of the soil, of the country, of a solid, firm belief in God," Maples said in 1990 to Vanity Fair

Maples also talked to Maximum Ink about her childhood. "Life was simple in many ways but very full of adventure and friendships. I recall climbing trees, wading through streams, chasing cattle through the pastures and being bucked off a few old paint horses. It was a very healthy and earthy lifestyle. Sports, family, and church were the center of my life in Georgia," she said. The small town beauty pageant queen was the polar opposite of Trump, a native of New York, born 18 years earlier than she was. Trump's father, Fred Trump, was a businessman himself, who had his own real estate empire that raked in millions for Donald and his siblings. Maples never even saw the streets of New York until she moved there in 1985. Although she had ambitious career aspirations, Maples didn't know that type of wealth. 

"I would be happier living out on a farm away from everyone and not being in this concrete world, and here he is representing everything that some people think is very materialistic," she added. 

Trump wasn't happy with Maples' pregnancy

Donald Trump's first daughter, Ivanka Trump, has famously been paraded around by her father, who referred to her as his favorite in an interview with New York Magazine. After acknowledging the favorite-playing when it comes to "Daddy's little girl," Donald remembered his second daughter, Tiffany Trump, born 12 years after Ivanka in 1993. Tiffany is the fourth child of Donald, and the only child of Marla Maples.

"You know I have another daughter, with Marla, named Tiffany? She's just a beautiful great kid also. But it's very separate. When you have separate wives, it's sort of ... separate," he told the magazine. Donald revealed his true feelings about Maples' pregnancy while chatting with controversial radio host, Howard Stern, on the "Howard Stern Show" in 2004 (via

"Honestly, I'm glad it happened. I have a great little daughter, Tiffany," he started. "But, you know at the time it was like, 'Excuse me, what happened?' And then I said, 'Well, what are we going to do about this?' She [Maples] said, 'Are you serious? It's the most beautiful day of our lives.' I said, 'Oh, great.'"

Trump's priority was building his empire

In the midst of running multiple casinos, hotels, and housing developments, it's no surprise that Donald Trump might've been a little too tied up to spend much time with daughter Tiffany Trump. When Tiffany was born, Donald's focus was on taking his casinos public to make enough money to pay down some debts

Marla Maples opened up to US Weekly on what it was like raising their daughter. "The truth was, the challenge was being able to balance being a working mom and being there for a child full time. Her daddy loves her, of course, but ... I was the parent. I was the parent that was there in the flesh [and] with her all the time," she said, adding that she didn't regret a minute of it. "It was amazing. I wouldn't trade it for anything in the world. I learned the most and it brought me the greatest joy."

Even prior to their divorce being finalized, Donald published a book that addressed his views on love and marriage. "Marla was content when it was just her, Tiffany, and me. I, on the other hand, realized that business needed to be taken care of constantly," he wrote in "Trump: The Art of the Comeback," (via The Washington Post). Maples retreated to California following their divorce and avoided the spotlight to give Tiffany a rather normal upbringing similar to her own.

The terms of the prenup

In the couple's prenuptial agreement, Donald Trump presented himself as the pinnacle of wealth, worth $1.17 billion. Despite that figure, Trump wasn't agreeable to what Marla Maples initially asked for in the event of divorce. Maples reportedly sought $25 million from the former president in a prenup, but settled for $1 million if they separated within five years, plus another $1 million to put toward a home for her. "This was the big battle all along. But there's a lot of factors involved here. We basically came to an agreement that for the first few years we would agree on something and then tear it up. So, that way, I feel that we have what he needs right now for his business. And then, in five years, I have what I need for a true marriage," she told Vanity Fair

Although Maples reportedly wasn't a fan of prenuptial agreements and held off on signing one for some time, her desire to get married trumped her hesitation. Both parties agreed to renegotiate the document after five years, and they married in 1993. One expert told Vanity Fair that Maples probably didn't understand what she was getting herself into, saying, "She thinks it's wonderful ... But let me tell you, it will either be extended after the five years or Trump is out of there ... She thinks after five years they will be free to be totally in love." Conveniently enough for Trump, they separated after almost four years.

Claims of Maples' alleged cheating made headlines

Rumors of Marla Maples and Donald Trump dating began swirling while Donald was still married to his first wife, Ivana Trump. Donald, who is no stranger to accusations of affairs (per Business Insider), wasn't in the hot seat when it came to another alleged infidelity this time. Instead, it was Maples making headlines after being caught with Donald's former bodyguard at the beach near Mar-a-Lago. Spencer Wagner was the bodyguard in question, and police caught him with Maples underneath the lifeguard stand in the wee hours of the morning. 

Both Maples and Donald denied that anything happened, with Maples claiming it was nothing more than her taking a bathroom break. However, Donald fired Wagner four months after the incident. Wagner's ex-wife alleged that Maples was no innocent bystander, saying that "He [Wagner] said she would try to pull him into a bedroom in the house and she was aggressive." Wagner's own story flipped over the years. At first, he also denied the affair, but later said that he and Maples were kissing on that fateful night. One year later, Donald and Maples announced their divorce. 

Maples reportedly said their marriage was built on an illusion

Marla Maples and Donald Trump separated in May 1997 and officially divorced in June 1999. A few months after their divorce, London's Daily Telegraph published an interview (via New York Post), where Maples offered insight into why their marriage dissolved. Not only did she say that the marriage was "built on an illusion," she also said that Trump was never the man she wanted to marry.

"I'm so happy to be away from Donald and I'm just trying to move as far away as I can," she said. "I finally found the courage to walk away and stay away. After I became a mother, I was less willing to put up with his behavior." To top it off, the Daily Telegraph quoted Maples' description of her ex-husband as an obsessive person driven by his ego (via Newsweek).

A spokeswoman for Maples claimed that the Telegraph interviewer took quotes out of context, but failed to indicate which quotes specifically. 

Trump was happy to divorce Maples

Donald Trump appeared on the "Howard Stern Show" immediately post-divorce in 1999 and offered a low-key response to his feelings on Marla Maples and their settlement. Stern stirred the pot when he joked that "Marla Maples was great and everything, but I knew Donald would get divorced because too many women [were] throwing themselves at him." Trump didn't confirm nor deny that claim, but coyly replied, "She was really a good — a good person ... you know, with all fairness, we had a great time" (via "She did stick by me. You know in the early 90s, I did have a tough time, and it wasn't the greatest time of my life, and that she was there," he said. 

Trump seemingly back-pedaled on his comments praising her when he appeared on the show again later the same year. Stern said he'd recently been looking at pictures of Maples and commented that she fell apart. "You got rid of her just at the right time," Stern said. Not surprisingly, Trump agreed. "Just in time ... let's say that I'm very happy" (via

Maples said the relationship was combative

In 2016, Marla Maples sat down with the hosts of Access Hollywood and spoke more on why her marriage failed. Maples reiterated how different she and Donald Trump were, and said they simply couldn't bring out the best in each other. Maples cited her Georgia roots, family values, and spiritual growth as reasons she and the business-minded tycoon had to move on from each other. She even described things between them as a little bit "combative" during their relationship. All in all, Maples appeared in good spirits while reflecting on their time together and complimented Trump on having a "positive ability to see the world, make money, and get out there."

"Girls, when we're in our 20s, we want to change the men we're with," she said to Billy Bush and Kit Hoover. "We think that love is going to make them a little softer." Based on his previous comments about her, it's safe to assume Trump could've been just as rigid as Maples said. In a New York Times piece, a reporter who'd interviewed Trump said that he claimed "[Marla] was constantly surrounded 'by an entourage of dumb Southerners,'" with one of those Southerners reportedly being Maples' mother, who he seemingly mocked by adopting a Southern accent.

Melania Trump has her own idea on why the marriage failed

Third wife Melania Trump reportedly had her own say on why Marla Maples and Donald Trump got divorced. In the 2020 book, "Melania and Me: The Rise and Fall of My Friendship with the First Lady," a former friend of Melania, Stephanie Winston Wolkoff, details what Melania is actually like, as well as gives several revelations that the public doesn't know about Donald's rather mum leading lady.

Wolkoff wrote that Melania has her own ideas on why Maples' and Donald's marriage failed in comparison to her long one. "Unlike Marla Maples, Melania didn't pressure him emotionally," Winston Wolkoff wrote in the book. According to Wolkoff, Melania also considers herself "completely different than his other wives." Vanity Fair reported that a source claimed Maples traveled with a wedding dress everywhere she went for years while dating Donald, in case he wanted to get married on a whim. It's just one example of the so-called pressure Donald supposedly felt. 

Maples is legally forbidden from speaking her truth

There's been plenty of opportunity to reveal the nitty gritty on what went down in their relationship, but Donald Trump's and Marla Maples' prenup and divorce settlement prohibit Maples from revealing much information. So when rumors of a tell-all memoir from Maples came about, it seemed too good to be true, in light of their iron-clad confidentiality agreement. The book, titled "It's About Time," reportedly never came to fruition because Maples failed to get Trump to sign off on its publication. Maples reportedly even had a publisher, Judith Regan, ready to get the book on shelves before the denial, per Page Six.

This marked the second time that Maples had tried to tell her side of the story, as another book set to publish in 2001, "All That Glitters Is Not Gold," never made it to shelves, after both the publisher and Maples agreed to not follow through with publication. With the possibility of any memoir leading Maples to face a lawsuit (considering the NDA she signed), fans can understand why she can be dodgy or vague when asked about her ex.