‘Marriage Isn’t 50/50’: Michelle Obama On Sustaining Her 30-Year Marriage With Kids

Former First Lady Michelle Obama recently sat down to discuss her new book The Light We Carry, parenting, and marriage. This discussion happened during the Revolt x Michelle Obama special with host Angie Martinez, Tina Lawson, Kelly Rowland, H.E.R., and Winnie Harlow. 

Regarding relationships, Michelle discussed how sometimes, young people give up too quickly. 

“People think I’m being catty for saying this — it’s like, there were 10 years where I couldn’t stand my husband. Ten years! And guess when it happened? When those kids were little,” Michelle, 58, said. 

Barack Obama and Michelle share two daughters—Malia, 24, and Sasha, 21. The two entered the White House at ages 10 and 7, respectively. Sasha was the youngest person to live in the White House since John F. Kennedy’s children.

The former First Lady continued, “The minute we had kids, it was like, ‘Where are you going? And how far?‘ And you start measuring — like, ‘How many diapers did you change?’ and ‘Oh, you’re golfing? Oh, you got time to golf? How are you at the gym all the time?’ That’s when all the measuring starts because you got this project.”

The other ladies found Obama’s comment humorous, laughing and nodding in agreement. Kelly Rowland interjected, saying, “Why are you in my brain right now?”

Michelle continued, “And guess what? Little kids, they’re terrorists. They are. They have demands. They don’t talk. They’re poor communicators. They cry all the time. They’re irrational. They’re needy. And you love them more than anything. And so you can’t blame them. … So you turn that ire on each other.”

“For 10 years while we’re trying to build our careers and worrying about school and who’s doing what and what, I was like, ‘Argh, this isn’t even!’ 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? Ten years; we’ve been married 30. I would take 10 bad years over 30 — it’s just how you look at it. People give up — ‘Five years; I can’t take it.’”

When Martinez asked Michelle how you know whether it’s worth sticking it out with someone, the best-selling author responded, 

“You gotta know your person. Do you like him? I mean, you could be mad at him, but do you still look at him and go, ‘I’m not happy with you, but I respect you. I don’t agree with you, but you’re still a kind, smart person.’ The feelings are gonna change over time. You’re not gonna always be [breathless in awe and love], so the minute that goes; people wanna give up on it. But now you’re in work. You’re in the work of it.”

Barack and Michelle married for 30 years and met at a law firm in Chicago in 1989. Michelle was assigned as his mentor at the firm. A month in, Barack asked his now-wife to go on a date with him, but she wasn’t initially interested. Eventually, she gave in, and the rest is history. 

The Light We Carry is Michelle’s second book—the first was the best-selling memoir Becoming. It was published on November 15 and can be purchased at all major bookstores.

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