Michelle Obama revealed that she and husband Barack Obama attended marriage counseling to work through ‘tough times’ soon after their two daughters were born and admits raising a family can be difficult.
On Saturday, the former First Lady had an honest conversation with Oprah Winfrey as part of the 2020 Vision: Your Life in Focus Tour with WW at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York.
In front of an crowd of 15,000 people, 56-year-old Obama opened up about the ups and downs of her marriage to America’s 44th president.
‘Sometimes you need an objective person to just hear you out,’ Obama began.
‘It taught me that I was responsible for my own happiness. I didn’t marry Barack for him to make me happy. No one can make me happy.
Michelle Obama (left) opened up about the tough times in her marriage with Barack Obama to Oprah Winfrey (right) at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York
‘If I’m going to show up equal in this partnership, I have to be able to make myself happy and so I had to stop focusing on what he wasn’t doing and start thinking about how to carve out the life that I wanted for myself, with or without Barack.
‘The more I succeeded in defining myself for myself, the better I was in my partnership.’
‘And you call [Barack] your soul affirming partner?’ Oprah asked.
‘Is it more so now in 28 years than earlier. Does it keep getting better? Or it’s more seasoned?’
Obama said: ‘It’s all of that. And this is what I keep trying to tell young people. Marriage is hard and raising a family together is a hard thing. It takes a toll.’
Michelle revealed she and Barack Obama (pictured) attended couples counseling during tier marriage after their two daughters were born
Obama: ‘If I’m going to show up equal in this partnership, I have to be able to make myself happy and so I had to stop focusing on what he wasn’t doing and start thinking about how to carve out the life that I wanted for myself, with or without Barack’
She admitted that despite any disagreements the couple shared, friendship was always at the core of their relationship.
‘We’re coming back to that point where we see each other again because some of the hardest times in our lives we just escaped, we survived it,’ she said.
‘We went through a tough time, we did some hard things together. But now we’re out on the other end and I can look at him and I still recognize my husband. He’s still the man I fell in love with,’ she continued.
Obama (left) said she tells young people that ‘Marriage is hard and raising a family together is a hard thing. It takes a toll’
Obama has never shied away from talking about her and Barack’s relationship struggles, having tackled the subject head on in her 2018 memoir, Becoming, and in interviews.
In an interview on The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon, Obama admitted that she pushed for couples’ therapy because she wanted to ‘fix’ Barack.
‘I was one of those wives who thought, “I’m taking you to marriage counseling so you can be fixed, Barack Obama.” Because I was like, “I’m perfect.” I was like, “Dr. X, please fix him”‘, she said, prompting the audience to laugh.
‘And then, our counselor looked over at me. I was like, “What are you looking at? I’m perfect”.’
Obama added: ‘But marriage counseling was a turning point for me, understanding that it wasn’t up to my husband to make me happy, that I had to learn how to fill myself up and how to put myself higher on my priority list.’
The Obama’s will celebrate their 28th marriage anniversary on October 3 after meeting in at a law firm in Chicago, Illinois.
Obama also shared her feelings about having an empty mess since her two daughters, Malia and Sasha, are both away at college.
Malia, 21, is currently a junior at Harvard University and Sasha, 18, began classes at the University of Michigan fall 2019.
Obama (far left) said she and Barack (right) have more ’emotional energy’ now that their two daughters, Sasha (left) and Malia (far right) are away at college
‘Parenting takes up a lot of emotional space … I put a lot of time and energy into parenting these girls but right now we are trying to make their lives normal — so that means weekends were a pain,’ Obama said.
‘We had to worry about what parties they were going to, whether there was alcohol, I had to know who the parents were, so every weekend for me was hard. And they’re gone, thank God,’ she joked.
Obama said she now has the energy to focus on her next path in life and figuring out ‘the next chapter.’
‘We have more emotional time, emotional energy,’ she said of herself and Barack.
‘It’s just me and him and [the family dogs] Bo and Sunny and dinner. And they don’t talk, the dogs.’
So far, Obama has made the most of her new time and energy picking up several accomplishments.
Obama’s memoir, Becoming, has sold more than 10 million copies and has earned her a Grammy in January
In January, Obama won her first Grammy Award for Best Spoken Word album for her bestselling book, Becoming.
Becoming sold more than 1 million copies in its first week and by March 2019 had sold more than 10 million.
Obama is the second First Lady to win a Grammy, following Hillary Clinton’s 1997 award for It Takes a Village.
Barack has won two Grammy awards in the same category. Once in 2006 for the abridged reading of his memoir, Dreams from My Father, and in 2008, for The Audacity of Hope.
Last year, Obama was named as one of People’s ‘People of the Year.’
In December 2019, the Obama’s settled into a new million dollar mansion in Martha’s Vineyard.
It was recently announced that Viola Davis would play Obama in the new Showtime series, First Ladies.