Michelle Obama Candidly Revealed The Truth About Her Marriage

Michelle and Barack Obama appear to have the kind of picture-perfect relationship that every couple aspires to. But in 2020 the former First Lady revealed that her marriage to the 44th President of the United States hasn’t always run smoothly. During an episode of her eponymous podcast, in fact, Michelle even admitted that there have been times when she’s wanted to push Barack out of a window.

The Obamas have never been afraid to show how much they love each other in public. To celebrate his wife turning 56 in 2020, Barack uploaded some playful snaps to Instagram that had been taken in a photo-booth. He wrote alongside them, “In every scene, you are my star.”

On Valentine’s Day two years earlier the couple expressed their love on a different social media platform. Michelle took to Twitter to share a playlist for her “one and only.” Barack, meanwhile, returned the compliment with a loved-up picture of the pair and the comment that Michelle “makes every day and every place better.”

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Barack and Michelle have even shared the odd smooch in public, too, although on one particular occasion they required a bit of prompting. While attending a basketball exhibition match featuring Team USA in 2012, the Obamas appeared on the Kiss Cam. The couple initially decided against puckering up on screen first time round. When the cameras targeted them once more towards the end of the game, they threw caution to the wind and locked lips.

Alongside all the public displays of affection, the Obamas are always gushing about each other in interviews, too. For example, in a 2013 chat with American Vogue, Barack said, “There’s no doubt I’m a better man having spent time with Michelle. I would never say that Michelle’s a better woman, but I will say she’s a little more patient.”

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In 2010 Michelle told Good Housekeeping what makes their relationship tick. “When the kids go to bed and after he’s done a little reading, we’re usually curled up in our den, and we’ll watch a show together,” she said. “Or we’ll talk and catch up. It’s nothing major, but that’s what marriage is about. Not the big, splashy stuff.”

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So, how did the power couple meet in the first place? Well, they were first introduced to each other in a professional capacity when lawyer Michelle was tasked with tutoring Barack, who was still a student at the time. And when the latter walked into the Sidney & Austin offices for the first time, the former recognized that there could be trouble ahead.

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In a 2012 chat with Good Morning America, Michelle recalled, “Barack Obama has always walked like Barack Obama – like he’s got all the time in the world, and I was like, ‘Dude, you’re cute.’ But in my mind, I was like ‘off-limits.’ I’m not going to date one of the few black summer associates.”

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Barack eventually plucked up the courage to invite Michelle out on a date a few weeks after they met. He was rebuffed at first, however, over her concerns that the pair mixing professional and personal lives would be “tacky.” Nonetheless, Michelle eventually relented after realizing that the law student “was not a game player.”

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Michelle and Barack watched Spike Lee classic Do The Right Thing on their first date after enjoying a walk in Chicago’s Hyde Park. Talking to Good Morning America, the former revealed, “When we stopped for ice cream and he got the sense that I was starting to open up, and he played it real smooth. He just leaned in for a kiss and that really was it. From that kiss on, it was love and he was my man.”

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From then on, the pair became inseparable. But Michelle admitted in an interview with The New Yorker that Barack took some convincing about taking their relationship to the next level. “We would have this running debate throughout our relationship about whether marriage was necessary,” she said. “It was sort of a bone of contention, because I was, like, ‘Look, buddy, I’m not one of these who’ll just hang out forever.’”

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Thankfully, Barack finally committed to the idea and asked for Michelle’s hand in marriage during a meal out in Chicago eaterie Gordon. The former First Lady continued, “[Barack] got me into one of these discussions again, where, you know, he sort of just led me down there and got fired up. And it’s like, ‘You’ve got blah blah blah blah,’ and then dessert comes out, the tray comes out – and there’s a ring!”

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The loved-up couple walked down the aisle in the Windy City’s Trinity United Church of Christ during the fall of 1992. Best man duties went to Barack’s half-brother Malik, while Michelle was given away by her sibling Craig. The newlyweds enjoyed a first dance to “You and I” by soul legend Stevie Wonder before honeymooning on the West Coast.

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Barack and Michelle became parents for the first time six years later with the birth of daughter Malia. They completed their family unit in 2001 with the arrival of Sasha, who, like her sister, was conceived via IVF. In an interview with American Vogue in 2013, Michelle acknowledged that her priorities changed when she became a mother.

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“Our job is, first and foremost, to make sure our family is whole,” Michelle told the magazine. “You know, we have small kids; they’re growing every day. But I think we were both pretty straightforward when we said, ‘Our number-one priority is making sure that our family is whole.’”

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While Michelle often discussed her marriage during Barack’s eight-year presidential stint, she’s opened up even further following their departure from the White House. Since 2016 the Harvard Law School graduate has published a revealing autobiography, been the subject of an acclaimed Netflix documentary and launched a podcast. And she’s been more than happy to talk about her relationship in all three.

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In her 2018 memoir Becoming, Michelle freely admitted that she didn’t instantly fall head over heels in love with Barack. Referring to his glowing reputation as a law student, she wrote, “In my experience, you put a suit on any half-intelligent black man and white people tended to go bonkers.” In fact, Michelle first viewed her future husband as “a guy with a big smile and a whiff of geekiness.”

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So Michelle certainly wasn’t a fan of Barack’s style during their initial time together. Looking back on a time when, in the hope of introducing him to a single friend, she’d arranged to meet Barack in a bar, Michelle wrote, “He’d changed out of his work clothes, I noticed, and was wearing a white linen blazer that looked as if it’d come straight out of the Miami Vice costume closet. Ah well.” Ouch.

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In her eponymous 2020 Netflix doc, Michelle again recalled her early days with Barack. “He was very different, and he was different from me, and he challenged me in different ways,” she said. “I knew he was a tsunami coming after me, and if I didn’t get my act together, I would be swept up. I didn’t want to just be an appendage to his dreams. So that forced me to work and think, and make decisions like leaving law.”

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“My relationship with Barack was all about our partnership,” Michelle continued. “If I was going to have an equal voice with this very opinionated man, I had to get myself up. I had to set myself off to a place where I was confident that I was going to be his equal.”

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But it’s on The Michelle Obama Podcast that the onetime First Lady has been at her most candid. Launched on Spotify in the summer of 2020, each week the show invites a star name to dig deep into their relationship history and how it’s impacted them as a person. Its first guest was someone quite familiar to the host: a certain Barack Obama.

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Yet the biggest revelations about Michelle and Barack’s long-lasting marriage came during a later episode that dropped in September 2020. On this occasion, talk-show legend Conan O’Brien was the man being interviewed. But it was Michelle’s contributions to the discussion that ended up making all the headlines.

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While they often appear to be the ideal couple, the Obamas have had their fair share of problems, too. “People aren’t perfect. Marriage is hard. It’s a struggle for everyone,” Michelle admitted. “You’ve got to know that there are going to be long periods of time when you can’t stand each other.”

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Michelle then made it crystal clear just how annoyed her husband of nearly three decades could occasionally make her. She added, “I said it on the book tour as a joke – there were times that I wanted to push Barack out of the window. And I say that because it’s like, you’ve got to know the feelings will be intense.”

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Michelle was also keen to point out that such feelings are part and parcel of being in a long-term relationship. “These periods can last a long time – they can last years,” she continued. “But we don’t talk about that. So young couples, they face these challenges and they’re ready to give up because they think they’re broken.”

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Speaking from experience, Michelle acknowledged that she’d have passed up “all the beauty that was there as well” if she’d walked away when times were tough. She continued, “If that breaks a marriage, then Barack and I have been broken off and on, throughout our marriage. But we have a very strong marriage.”

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The Obamas may have a strong marriage but as we heard earlier Barack took some convincing to get hitched in the first place. Michelle told O’Brien that while she was on board from a young age with the idea of walking down the aisle, her husband was reticent. Apparently the turbulent marriages of his parents and grandparents had deterred the future president from tying the knot.

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Yet after learning that O’Brien himself didn’t feel prepared to say “I do” before he was well into his 30s, Michelle showed understanding. The Harvard Law School grad applauded “a man’s inclination to wait and to kind of go out there and search and get himself ready.” She then remarked that it’s “a good instinct that more young women should think about.”

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Perhaps inspired by her husband’s love of basketball, Michelle also compared marriage to the NBA Draft. She said, “You don’t want any weak links. You don’t want somebody that you can dominate, you don’t want somebody who’s kind of a loser. 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.’”

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Continuing with her sporting analogy, Michelle added, “You want LeBron [James]. You don’t want the guy third row on the bench who didn’t make the team, but we often don’t think about that. What you’re supposed to say is, ‘I have married LeBron. My version of LeBron.’”

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Indicating that she’d perhaps make a good relationship counselor, Michelle then offered some words of wisdom to those in the early stages of dating. She advised them to imagine themselves in various different circumstances with their partners before committing. “You can’t Tinder your way into a long-term relationship,” Michelle concluded.

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“Do you want to build something with someone?” Michelle asked her listeners. “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 be more committed than having children together, of course, something that Michelle admitted also put a strain on her marriage.

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“The first tough years came with kids. I had infertility issues, I was ready, I wanted kids, I worked hard for them,” Michelle told O’Brien. “We were mature, we had been together for four or five years before, so we had a wonderful amount of time together which was helpful.”

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While the Obamas had desperately wanted children, like many of us they found the reality of having kids a little tougher than expected. Michelle added, “But even with all of that, when these little people arrived and the whole process of pregnancy, conception, delivery, and then they are there. That can suck the life out of all of that hard work and all of that wisdom.”

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“It’s hard to get ready for the wonderful joyfulness that is having children,” Michelle continued. Of course, she doesn’t have any regrets about bringing Malia and Sasha into the world. She joked, “They are amazing and I would not trade them in, but they can mess up a marriage.”

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Now very much adults themselves, of course, the Obamas’ daughters have their own love lives to think about. In 2017 Malia was filmed at Harvard University locking lips with Brit Rory Farquharson, a banker’s son. A few months later, the pair were spotted in the Big Apple.

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Then in early 2020 the young couple were pictured walking around the fashionable London district of Islington. Malia had reportedly spent much of the festive period on the other side of the Atlantic with her partner. And she appeared to be enjoying life in England.

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An anonymous source reportedly told MailOnline, “They were keeping a low profile but looked really happy and relaxed together. They were dressed down. Malia was in wide-leg white pants with a black jacket and had her hair down with no make-up. Rory was in a khaki coat and loose jeans. What surprised me was that they were rambling around Islington, a pretty busy area, entirely incognito – few people recognized her as being the daughter to the previous American president.”

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Malia’s younger sister Sasha hasn’t yet been seriously linked to anyone romantically. But in 2019 she did attend her senior prom alongside fellow student Chris Milton, with photos of the pair spreading across social media. Since then, Sasha’s been busy with her studies at the University of Michigan.

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Whatever Malia and Sasha’s romantic futures, their mother hopes that they “give themselves a moment to figure out who they want to be in the world.” While appearing on Oprah Winfrey’s Your Life In Focus show in 2020, Michelle said, “They cannot define themselves by looking at each other or looking at me or their dad. They have to take the time to get to know themselves.”

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