Whether you voted for him or not -- support his political policies or not -- like him or not -- one thing is for certain: Barack Obama knows how to keep the love alive with his wife, Michelle.
In this day of divorce, Kardashian curses, bachelor and bachelorette reality shows, Jersey Shore jerks, Snookies, Snookums and battle of the sexes, the Obamas stand miles above the rest as a happy couple in a wonderful relationship. They have raised the bar for matrimonial bliss by reinstating the simple qualities evident of a successful union as it should be -- sacred, unbreakable and ever-lasting.
What are the basic characteristics that differentiate long-lasting good relationships from short-term bad ones? While addressing this “state of the union,” let’s explore the specific qualities that contribute to a healthy, happy and long-lasting relationship by using Barack and Michelle Obama’s alliance as an example. With this the four R’s always emerge -- Respect, Relating (to each other), Resilience and Romance.
How They Met
Though they both attended Harvard Law School only a year apart, Michelle and Barack actually met at a law firm in Chicago. She wasn’t initially impressed thinking he was a “too cool” type. Because she was asked to advise Barack, a summer associate at the time, Michelle initially held off on his requests to take her out. She was careful not to mix love and work. Like most men, Barack was probably enchanted with Michelle’s own “coolness” or aloofness. It has been proven that men like the chase and obviously Barack was up for the challenge. As for Michelle, she was focused on her career and never came off desperate or clingy for a man. On the contrary, she was just as ambitious as Barack in her career goals. Because of these qualities there seemed to be an immediate mutual respect for each other and for their individual pursuits of life.
What defines "respect?" Literally, respect is the admiration felt toward a person or thing that has good qualities or achievements and attention or consideration. Other main attributes of respect are telling the truth, keeping your word, maintaining your (and your partner’s) integrity by being considerate. During their early years, Barack and Michelle easily admired each other since they were both over-achievers and went to the same Ivy League school.
Today, Barack remains ultimately respectful of Michelle as his wife and the mother of his children, daughters Malia and Sasha. At every speech, when appropriate, Barack thanks his wife and mentions his children demonstrating his appreciation for them. It’s apparent that he doesn’t just go through the motions of including his family in his trials and triumphs. He genuinely respects, loves and is grateful for them being involved in every aspect of his life. In addition, his decision to run for presidency wasn’t just his decision but Michelle’s as well since they were already married before he charged forward on his presidential path. Barack understands his first commitment is to his wife and children. He has called Michelle his “rock” and has said she “had the power of veto.” Barack is a smart man who knows what many blissfully married men know -- happy wife, happy life.
Barack is a family man. Another example of Barack respecting his family’s (specifically his young daughters') wants and needs is that he kept true to his word when he welcomed a fifth member into the family, a dog named "Bo," as promised. Likewise, Michelle, too, is utterly respectful to Barack and her family. Though she’s a powerful figure in her own right, she doesn’t emasculate, distrust or doubt her husband. Women can use Michelle Obama as an inspirational figure of their own love lives. Michelle remains feminine but has her own independent identity outside of her married life. She has achieved reaching her own dreams as well. Michelle and Barack don’t compete with each other. They complement each other.
II. Relating (to each other)
The second characteristic predominant in a happy union is relating (to each other), or communication. Communication is key in any successful relationship whether it be business or personal. In relating to each other, the former Ms. Robinson isn’t just another pretty face that passively sits by the sidelines like some of the first ladies of yesteryear. On the contrary, Michelle not only stands by her man but willingly participates. And Barack enthusiastically welcomes her involvement. Michelle and Barack are both highly intelligent and charismatic people, yet, they are grounded and down-to-earth enough to call it as they see it. It’s easy to imagine that if there’s any discord in their union that these two (being great communicators) will work it out by airing their differences in a civil way and come to an amiable conclusion. Moreover, clear and honest communication tends to overlap with a form of respect.
Relating to each other is also having the same specific priorities or values of moral obligations. Barack and Michelle both have backgrounds where priorities of family and family values are of utmost importance. They are open about how they parent and are on the same page when it comes to their children’s future. Furthermore, this partnership makes no excuse for lack of time…they make the time for each other and their family.
Another wonderful quality in many successful unions is resilience, or bouncing back to original form after life’s challenges may have put a squeeze on the relationship. Like most couples, Michelle and Barack have faced their own trials and tribulations. Running for office, much less the highest political role in the nation, and abruptly being thrust in the media limelight, wreaks havoc on any relationship. But Michelle and Barack seem to have gotten through. When the going gets tough, the tough get going.
During challenging times (along with overseeing the United States and all the criticisms that come with the overwhelmingly difficult job description) the couple make time for each other. Finding time to relate to each other along with respecting each other’s needs rejuvenates the relationship ensuring resilience. Mrs. Obama has revealed that love, sacrifice, hard struggles and juggling time makes them stronger as a couple and that they are “constantly balancing each other.” This resembles another recent power couple: Bill and Hilary Clinton. However, due to Bill’s admitted infidelities, the Clinton’s union missed one very important attribute detrimental in any successful relationship: Romance.
Barack Obama mentioned “date night” on various occasions and isn’t afraid of PDA (public displays of affection) towards his better half. In fact, he sincerely seems proud to have her by his side and on his arm. The two definitely radiate a commitment and love for each other. Women love to be loved and appreciated. And as the saying goes, “Behind every successful man is a strong woman.” Nevertheless, men can be hesitant in giving women their just dues. Many men may become intimidated with strong or confident women and prefer their wives to take a back seat on their road to success. Barack places Michelle in the seat next to him demonstrating that they are in this together proving that his wife and family are the most important people in his life. Michelle’s a joyful participant supporting her husband’s decisions with America’s future.
Their romantic bond is strong. Perhaps that is the reason why Barack tweeted a photo of himself hugging his wife when winning presidency (it received more than 2.3 million likes on Facebook with over 200,000 shares and 110,000 comments). Many men would have posted a photo of themselves or other VIPs in the campaign party like Vice President Joe Biden, celebrating the political win. Not Barack. Staying true to form, he chose a photo of himself embracing his “rock,” Michelle.
Women want to be the center of their men’s universe. When the man celebrates that fact (besides treating her right) then this keeps the woman eternally in love with him and faithfully by his side. Barack Obama knows his title and role as President of The United States is extremely important but those days (or terms) are numbered, whereas his marriage could, should and hopefully will last an entire lifetime. With Michelle’s support, Barack is stronger. Together they can take on America’s volatile challenges with strength and vigor.
In today’s insecure connections and superficial short-liven liaisons, Michelle and Barack Obama’s relationship should inspire us all in our own relationships. They don’t need a congress majority vote to determine their future. With respect, relating, resilience and romance, this power couple (along with their children) have transformed the White House into a happy home.