The First Couple on (Their) Marriage

Posted on October 31, 2009. Filed under: inspiration, reality |

Hey, y’all!  Have you read this article in the New York Times Magazine?

The Obamas’ Marriage

If you haven’t read it, go now.  Seriously.  Right now.  It’s mind-blowingly honest and real.  Regardless of your political persuasion, we need more honesty and reality around marriages.  They talk about ups and downs, decisions and families and figuring out how to to make a marriage work with what might be the world’s toughest external factors.

Oh, where to begin to blog about how this story resonated with me? 

A smart, accomplished, ambitious woman figuring out how her husband’s life and desires fit with hers… and being honest about it:

Unlike the wife who smiles tightly and insists everything is fine, Michelle sent a clear series of distress signals not only to her husband but to everyone around her. “Barack and I, we’re doing a lot of talking,” she would say when asked how she was holding up.

A couple with an admittedly happy marriage talking honestly about how hard marriage can be:

Two months later in the Oval Office, I asked the Obamas just how severe their strains had been. “This was sort of the eye-opener to me, that marriage is hard,” the first lady said with a little laugh. “But going into it, no one ever tells you that. They just tell you, ‘Do you love him?’ ‘What’s the dress look like?’ ”

A man worried that if his wife agrees to what he wants, she won’t be happy.  When my husband and I disagree, his biggest worry is that I’m not happy (hello, of COURSE I’m not happy, we’re yelling at each other, buddy!), so this strikes a chord in me:

The first lady looked solemnly at the president. He said: “You know, I mean, I think that it was important for us to work this through. . . . There was no point where I was fearful for our marriage. There were points in time where I was fearful that Michelle just really didn’t — that she would be unhappy.”

This, THIS, this right here is why I blog about all the things that aren’t rainbows and butterflies:

“If my ups and downs, our ups and downs in our marriage can help young couples sort of realize that good marriages take work. . . .” Michelle Obama said a few minutes later in the interview. The image of a flawless relationship is “the last thing that we want to project,” she said. “It’s unfair to the institution of marriage, and it’s unfair for young people who are trying to build something, to project this perfection that doesn’t exist.”

And my favorite, the quote that out of an article filled with oh-my-God-we-ARE-normal-thank-God moments, stuck in my head and settled into my heart with a whoosh of peace:

Michelle Obama accepted that she was not going to have a conventional marriage, that her husband would be away much of the time. “That was me, wanting a certain type of model, and our lives didn’t fit that model,” she told me in an Iowa lunchroom in the summer of 2007. “I just needed the support. It didn’t have to be Barack.”

Tell me honestly (since “honest” seems to be a popular word in this post!), did you love the article as much as I did?  Why?


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    I’ve been there, done that, got the t-shirt (and divorce papers) to prove it. Here I am again, pledging my life to my (new) love with eyes wide open (and heart racing) knowing full well how emotionally traumatic this can end… and doing it anyway.


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