It is clear that many in our community hold up the marriage of the President and First Lady Barack and Michelle Obama as a strong example of black love. Like other Presidents, their marriage is often analyzed and speculated about but unlike other Presidents and their wives the Obamas have been more candid about their ups and downs. Even if you don’t do the Sunday paper anymore you might want to get yourself a copy of The New York Times Magazine this weekend so you can keep a hard copy of Jodi Kantor’s in-depth interview (curl up with a cup of coffee long) with the couple about their marriage. Because while this story is inspiring it is also a reality check about what it really takes (and I’m sure they’re not even telling us everything) to have a strong relationship.
What I like most about this piece is that we get a real feel for what it was like for Michelle Obama as her husband was focused on his first book, his run for the State Senate and then actually being apart from the family (for years).
“Michelle would say, ‘Well, you’re gone all the time and we’re broke?’ ” the president recalled when I spoke to the two of them. “ ‘How is that a good deal?’ ”
Kantor also recounts the time Michelle had to strap daughter Sasha into her stroller and take her along on an interview because her babysitter canceled.
“She was in a lot of ways a single mom, and that was not her plan,” recalls Susan Sher, who became her boss at the hospital and is now her chief of staff.
The living apart piece is big because sisters often talk about wanting their own Barack but how many of us would make the kind of sacrifices necessary? Hmm.
And it’s clear from the FLOTUS that they are exposing some of their realities because they don’t want anyone to have the illusion that they’re a perfect couple.
“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.”
Kantor compares the Inauguration to a marriage (what with oaths, white dresses and the dance to “At Last”) and points out that public displays of affection among the Obamas are a regular occurence and images captured of the couple are on rotation as inspirational art throughout The White House. But while that all looks beautiful the truth is the Obamas are adjusting to living together full-time again—and on a world stage no less. They’re also trying to keep each other grounded in the midst of awesome responsibility. And the truth can be awfully inspiring.Read Also