Obama: There Was A Point When Michelle Thought Our Marriage Wouldn't Work
By Lauren Crawford
November 25, 2020
In his recently released memoir, "A Promised Land," Barack Obama opened up about the marital struggles he and his wife Michelle Obama faced while he was in office from 2009 to 2017. And for weeks now, the former President has spoken candidly about said issues.
However, in a new interview with "The Breakfast Club," 44 went into further detail about those tough years, speaking unguardedly about how the former First Lady did come to the point, possibly more than once, where she thought parting ways was an option.
"I think there were times where certainly [Michelle] thought this [marriage] wasn't going to work," Barack quipped, before sharing how their contrasting personalities and different outlooks on life caused a few bumps in their marriage.
"Michelle is somebody who has a different temperament than me. I'd think she'd admit that she has more than a temper than I do. I think she can get more pessimistic about things than I can. I tend to be pretty even-keeled. 'Yeah, we'll figure this out,' kind of approach," he explained. "But as I write about in the book, sometimes that itself is frustrating to your partner. If you're all like, 'Hey, honey. Relax. Why are you getting all excited about stuff?' Then, she'll be like, 'Oh you're just not listening to me at all.'"
The former POTUS went on to share that, like many couples, the two would get into a pattern of misunderstandings but never lost respect for one another. And for his part, Barack said he never lost sight of the sacrifices Michelle made for him to pursue a career in politics.
"There's no doubt that there were episodes she was questioning whether the life that I had chartered for us was compatible with what she wanted out of life," Barack shared. "Michelle once told me something that I think summed it up pretty well. She said, 'I have organized my life not to have a lot of mess in my life. And politics, by definition, brings mess into our household. You've got people with whom I never would associate with otherwise that suddenly are talking about us or have an impact on our wellbeing. That's not what I want.'"
"I understood that, and the sacrifice she made is one I had to work off," he continued, adding with a smile that his "debt is almost like a payday loan — it keeps on. The interest gets high."
So, how did Michelle and Barack work through their challenging times? Well, as Michelle previously mentioned in her memoir, the two sought out counseling before Barack went into the White House, and as Barack shared with "The Breakfast Club," they never hit below the belt when having a disagreement.
"One thing Michelle and I both tell younger couples who are going through rough patches: 'we were pretty good even when things were tough, we never loss basic respect for the other person. We never thought that person was a bad person,'" he shared. "We never said things that would make it seem that you completely disrespect me. It was more, 'I love you, Barack, but this is driving me crazy.' or 'I respect you, but...' I think that's what kept us 'cause we never doubted each other's intentions."
Barack added, "the basic fact that my view of Michelle is that she is a remarkable woman. Even if she drives me crazy sometimes, I never thought that there was anybody who I would rather be with."
As for how the former president managed the everyday stresses of holding the highest office in the land, Barack said he made time to work out, play basketball, and, like many of us, expressed his frustrations through cursing.
"You're the leader of the free world, it's the most powerful office on earth, but it's also a job," he told the hosts. "The West Wing is also an office; you're going to have the same frustrations, doubts, mishaps you would have in any office, in any job, which means you're going to cuss a little bit."
Most importantly, though, Barack said he took the "long view in dealing with frustrations," especially when dealing with Mitch McConnell. "You just had to remind yourself you are in a long-term contest, and there are going to be ups and downs at any time, but if you kept your eye on the ball, sooner or later you can prepare," he said.
Photo: Getty Images/The Breakfast Club