You know the ever so popular saying: “Beside every great man, there is an even greater woman.” Well, for every Barack, there MUST be a Michelle, as the former First Lady has proven to be nothing short of a strong force beside her man, while also being her own extremely successful entity, creating quite the name for herself.
The Presidential couple met during their tenure at the law firm Sidley Austin LLP, where then Michelle Robinson was assigned to be Obama’s mentor for the summer. At first, the two, more-so Michelle than Barack, tried to remain professional, until she says he “charmed her” and was “pleasantly surprised at who he turned out to be.”
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Last week on The #MichelleObamaPodcast, Conan and I reflected on our marriages. This relationship can be one of the most foundational pieces of our identities—bringing us so much joy, meaning, and support every single day. But one thing is for sure: It also takes a lot of work; a lot of honesty with ourselves and our partners. That’s one thing I’ve learned. I’d love to hear some of the things you’ve learned about marriage and about yourself. Let me know in the comments. ❤
The two chose for their first date to go to the Art Institute, followed by walking down Michigan Avenue and ending up catching Spike Lee’s “Do the Right Thing.” “It was fantastic,” said Michelle Obama in a 2004 interview. “He was definitely putting on the charm… It worked. He swept me off my feet.” After dating for a few years, a young Barack Obama proposed to the future Mrs. Obama via dinner at Gordon’s on Clark Street in Chicago. The couple then married on October 3, 1992, and the marriage has brought forth two daughters, Malia Ann (born in 1998) and Natasha (or “Sasha”, born in 2001).
The marriage wasn’t an easy one, as a career in politics would sometimes take a toll on the relationship, coupled with raising a family. In his second book, “The Audacity of Hope: Thoughts on Reclaiming the American Dream”, the 44th President of the United States had this to say about balancing work and family and the arguments that would be birthed from it: “Tired and stressed, we had little time for conversation, much less romance.” The two made it a point to schedule as many date nights as possible.
In 2008, the Obamas would go on to make history, as Barack became the first African-American to hold office as President of the United States, making Michelle the first African-American First Lady. He would go on to become re-elected in 2012 for a second term. Throughout his presidency, the two were hailed by many as role models, even in their marriage.
This October, the couple look forward to celebrating the 28 year mark in their marriage. During a recent episode of her “The Michelle Obama Podcast”, she spoke with Conan O’Brien and gave pointers and tidbits on a lasting relationship/marriage, as well as admitted that her sweetheart has, at times, made her want to react in a specific way. “There were times that I wanted to push Barack out of the window,” the former First Lady says, “and I say that because it’s like, you’ve got to know the feelings will be intense. But that doesn’t mean you quit. And these periods can last a long time. They can last years.”
Mrs. Obama, however, shared some advice to young couples who may also be experiencing this in their own respective marriages. “Young couples, they face these challenges and they’re ready to give up because they think they’re broken,” she went on to say. “If that breaks a marriage, then Barack and I have been broken off and on. But we have a very strong marriage, and if I had given up on it, if I had walked away from it, in those tough times, then I would’ve missed all the beauty that was there as well.”
When it comes to the qualities that one should look for when choosing their potential life partner, Obama compares the process to “picking your basketball team.” “If you’re looking at a team, the people you want to win with,” she explains, “then number one, you want everybody on your team to be strong, right? You don’t want any weak links, you don’t want somebody that you can dominate. Also, if you’re on a team, you’ve got to be able to do everything —especially in basketball, it’s like, you would never pick somebody that says, ‘I only dribble. I don’t shoot, I don’t defend, I just dribble.”
In a final bit of advice, she went on to say, “There’s no magic way to make that happen except getting the basics of finding somebody, being honest about wanting to be with them, to date them seriously, to plan on making a commitment, to date them, seeing where it goes, and then making it happen. You can’t Tinder your way into a long-term relationship.”