She may be one-half of one of the highest-profile couples on the planet, but Michelle Obama still deals with many of the same marital issues that every other partnered person does. The former first lady and bestselling author promoted her new book, The Light We Carry: Overcoming in Uncertain Times, by shedding light on one of the topics she tackles in it: marriage. In a Nov. 25 Instagram post, she got candid about lessons she’s learned in her relationship with former President Barack Obama, through the ebbs and flows.
Obama began her post — which was accompanied by photo-booth shots of her and her husband — by explaining how important Barack is to her. “As an adult, I’ve lived in a number of places, but as far as I’m concerned, I’ve only ever had one real home,” she wrote. “My home is my family. My home is Barack.”
Nonetheless, she made it clear that they don’t live in a fairy tale. Their marriage has “never been perfectly 50-50,” she explained, and they’re “always” going through periods where one is “needing more or giving more.” To get through it, they “have to be willing to listen to each other, honestly and without defensiveness.”
Obama went on to share the answer she gives when young people ask her about marriage. “You have to prepare yourself for long stretches of discord and discomfort,” she wrote. “You have to learn how to make real compromises in the way you’ve lived as an individual.”
She warned that “glamorizing a relationship while you’re dating” causes problems during a marriage. “You can’t paper over problems when you’re living with someone day in and day out,” she added. Her advice also came with a series of questions people should ask themselves, such as “What are you trying to get out of this relationship?” and “Who are we and who do we want to be?”
Many married people responded to Obama’s insight by adding their own takeaways to the comments section, and others applauded her for getting so real. Among them was Hailey Bieber, who previously spoke out about tough times in her marriage to Justin Bieber. “So perfectly said,” she wrote, sharing Obama’s post to her Instagram story.
The former FLOTUS has had a long time to think about what does and doesn’t work in a relationship. She and Barack celebrated their 30th wedding anniversary on Oct. 3, and she paid tribute to their “adventure” in another Instagram post. “Happy anniversary to the man I love!” she wrote at the time. “These last 30 years have been an adventure, and I’m grateful to have you by my side. Here’s to a lifetime together. I love you.”
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