Former First Lady Michelle Obama is on her press tour promoting her book, The Light We Carry. Considering how raw her interviews are, I can only imagine how far she goes in her book. It’s not that she says anything terrible, though. Much of what she’s saying is pretty relatable. It’s just that people don’t say this stuff out loud usually. Especially when they’re talking about their husband who happens to be one of the most popular men in the country. While speaking with Kelly Rowland, H.E.R., Winnie Harlow and Tina Knowles-Lawson on Revolt TV, Michelle said there was a full decade that she couldn’t stand her husband, former POTUS Barack Obama. And while that’s pretty shocking to hear, it becomes less shocking when she revealed it was when their daughters Sasha and Malia were young and both Michelle and Barack were trying to balance raising the kids and their high-powered careers.
Former first lady Michelle Obama has said she “couldn’t stand” her husband for a decade while the couple’s children were young.
In frank comments to the Black news station Revolt TV last week, Obama – one of the most popular women in America – said that raising children had put strains on her three-decade marriage to Barack Obama, the US president for two four-year terms beginning in 2009.
“People think I’m being catty by saying this – it’s like, there were 10 years where I couldn’t stand my husband,” she told a round-table forum. “And guess when it happened? When those kids were little.”
Obama, 58, was speaking with Kelly Rowland, H.E.R., Winnie Harlow and Beyoncé’s mother Tina Knowles-Lawson, about an imbalance in her marriage to Barack Obama while his political star was ascending and she was primarily looking after their daughters, Sasha and Malia, who are now in their 20s.
“And for 10 years while we’re trying to build our careers and, you know, worrying about school and who’s doing what and what, I was like, ‘Ugh, this isn’t even,’” Obama said. “And guess what? Marriage isn’t 50/50 – ever, ever.
“There are times I’m 70, he’s 30. There are times he’s 60, 40, but guess what?” she continued. “Ten years – we’ve been married 30. I would take 10 bad years over 30 – it’s just how you look at it. And people give up … [saying], ‘Five years – I can’t take it.’”
I’ve said this before, but I have a friend who said raising kids is what broke up her first marriage. Remember that Michelle was a lawyer when she met Barack and after they married, she worked in city government as well as heading up the nonprofit Public Allies. And then she got into her hospital work, all of which were executive positions. So it’s not like there’s any reason Michelle should have automatically been the primary caregiver when the girls were younger, especially since she made more money once Barack went into politics. The only default qualifier is that she’s the mom so that makes her the one who has to raise the kids. In which case, I can understand her resentment. My guess is it wasn’t a huge surprise, though. When your husband decides to run for Congress, you probably know what you’re signing up for. That’s probably why she settled for 10 years of umbrage rather than ditching the marriage, she anticipated some of it. I’m not saying that makes it right, just that she probably expected it.
As for Michelle sticking it out for 10 years while others might abandon ship after five, folks need to do what’s best for them. Like Michelle said, she’s happy with her percentages, 20 good – probably great – years and 10 not-great years. But for others, five years might be enough to snap the twig and bailing is a perfectly acceptable option. There’s no guarantee you’ll get the magic back. Michelle and Barack may be lucky or maybe they worked like hell to overcome those bad years. I’m sure Barack spent most of their post-White House years making up for everything Michelle had to sacrifice for his career. But some partners never acknowledge the other person’s sacrifices, nor do they ever close the gap to find a 50/50 balance in the marriage. My point is, I don’t think it’s fair to say people “give up” on their marriage when they’ve been expected to carry the brunt of the family care. Sometimes it’s self-preservation or the best thing for the family dynamic to acknowledge the marriage isn’t working. Maybe that’s what Michelle is saying too.
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