Michelle Obama on Barack: ‘we can be comfortably, often annoyingly ourselves’

Michelle Obama has a new book coming out. Which mean, we get new Michelle Obama interviews. I love her interviews because even though she is so much more accomplished than me, she puts everything in a way I can relate to. In her book, The Light We Carry, Michelle discusses her marriage to Barack Obama. People ask her all the time how she maintains an idyllic marriage. Michelle says she doesn’t, because theirs is no more idyllic than any other. But they love each other, and that love comes through in everything they do and say.

People often reach out to me seeking relationship advice. They remark on photographs they’ve seen of me and Barack together—laughing, or sharing a look, appearing content to be side by side. They ask how we have managed to stay both married and unmiserable for 30 years now. I want to say, Yes, truly, it’s a surprise to us, too, sometimes! And really, I’m not joking. We have our issues, of course, but I love the man, and he loves me, now, still, and seemingly forever.

Our love is not perfect, but it’s real and we’re committed to it. This particular certainty sits parked like a grand piano in the middle of every room we enter. We are, in many ways, very different people. He’s a night owl who enjoys solitary pursuits. I’m an early bird who loves a crowded room. In my opinion, he spends too much time golfing. In his opinion, I watch too much lowbrow TV. But between us, there’s a loving assuredness that’s as simple as knowing the other person is there to stay, no matter what. This is what I think people pick up on in those photos: that tiny triumph we feel, knowing that neither one of us has walked away. We remain.

Partnership doesn’t change who you are. Just as Barack hasn’t changed much in the thirty-three years since we met, neither have I. The change is in what’s between us, the million small adjustments, compromises, and sacrifices we’ve each made in order to accommodate the close presence of the other. Whatever seed of mutual curiosity got planted in the moment we met and started to talk, that’s the thing we have grown over time into certainty. That’s the ongoing miracle, the conversation still under way, the home in which we live.

[From People]

“Yes, truly, it’s a surprise to us, too, sometimes!” This is how I feel much of the time as well. There really are no universal secrets for how or why relationships work because the people those relationships are different. For instance, the second half of Michelle’s comments are the opposite for my relationship. Partnership changed each of us a great deal for the better. There were selfish aspects or toxic relationships we shed in order to come together. But we maintained those changes in our other relationships. We had friends comment how we’d made each other better.

Michelle also talks about what she’s told Malia and Sasha to look for in their partners. Her advice is not to look for someone to fill a role, like “breadwinner” or “caregiver” but rather “someone who will do the work with you, not for you, contributing on all fronts and in all ways.” That’s great advice. As are her comments on how important love is in a relationship. And one thing is for certain, that “loving assuredness” really does come across every time you see the Obamas together.

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Photo credit: Avalon Red and Getty

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16 Responses to “Michelle Obama on Barack: ‘we can be comfortably, often annoyingly ourselves’”

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  1. CJ says:

    What I’m learning is not enough people are asking MO what tv shows she’s into… and I am thrilled by the idea that she’s just as into/frustrated by Below Deck as the rest of us.

  2. Steph says:

    I’ve always loved watching the Obama’s as a unit. Not just Michelle and Barack as spouses but also them as parents. I would love more detail about explicit decisions they made to maintain the family unit while in office. It looked effortless but there is no way that it was. Some of my favorite pics are showing how obvious it is that Sasha is a daddy’s girl.

  3. Petra (Brazen Archetyped Phenomenal Woman) says:

    🎯 “Whatever seed of mutual curiosity got planted in the moment we met and started to talk, that’s the thing we have grown over time into certainty. That’s the ongoing miracle, the conversation still under way, the home in which we live.”

  4. Flower says:

    I am still not over that burgundy outfit Michelle O wore at the Biden inauguration. It was pure joy !

  5. HeyKay says:

    I miss them in office. Classy, well-spoken, etc.

  6. MerlinsMom1018 says:

    I love this woman so so so much! She absolutely nailed it
    MerlinsDad and I will be married 44 years on Thanksgiving day (24th) and we are still and always will be polar opposites. He’s very outgoing and will talk to anybody. I am an introvert and will not talk to anyone unless necessary, but we make it work and sometimes it IS work

  7. Well Wisher says:

    Mrs. Obama’s statement about love and marriage is profound and infused with wisdom.
    Self acceptance is the heart of it. Knowing that you are enough, that using the same way of thinking about your significant other.

  8. AMA1977 says:

    Honking for more Michelle and Barry!! I adore them individually and as a couple. One of my favorite parts of their public relationship is that Barack freely admits that he “outkicked the coverage” when he met and married her, and that he knows and appreciates how wonderful she is. She is an accomplished, warm, funny, wise woman. I admire her so much.

    I’ve been married for almost 18 years (so not long in the context of their 30, but not too shabby either!) and we still enjoy each other’s company thoroughly. The grind of work, kids, chores, house stuff, and the bigger things (aging parents, illnesses and losses) are made much lighter by the joy we have in each other. I feel grateful to have a partner that I’ve grown with and like so much, in addition to loving him.

  9. Ciotog says:

    I love her! And her husband.

  10. Luna17 says:

    God I love them so much and miss Obama as president so much .

  11. Mabs A'Mabbin says:

    They truly are a spectacular team. Since our first date in ’92, my husband and I have never been apart. I understand what she says about doing different things yet coming together. We’ve had so much tragedy to endure, he’s had to watch me become a shell of my former self. I’ve had to be supportive through his alcoholism. Throughout all these years, our hands continue to find each other, he leans in for a kiss when nobody’s around lol. I honestly think it’s because we give each other space and communicate.

  12. Ladiabla says:

    @ Flower it so was…I was in the hospital with covid-related pneumonia when the inauguration took place (it was my last day), and I was trying to catch some of it on tv. When Michelle and Barack walked out, I saw Michelle in her outfit and just started crying, like, can you believe this wonderful woman? The nurses in the room were so kind, maybe they thought I was a crazy lady but they were understanding…I just couldn’t help getting emotional. Will always love them.

  13. Deering24 says:

    “In his opinion, I watch too much lowbrow TV…”

    Spill, Michelle, spill!! 🤣🤣 She doesn’t strike me as a Real Housewives type, to say the least. 👏👏

  14. jferber says:

    God, I love them both so much (but the President more).