Michelle Obama Reveals Why Her Marriage to Barack Obama Works

In her new book, the former first lady shares a deeper look at her successful relationship.

Michelle and Barack Obama at a presidential speaking convention

Gilbert Carrasquillo / Getty Images

It’s no secret that Michelle Obama and Barack Obama have a thriving relationship. After 30 years of marriage and throughout impressive career milestones, the former first lady and former president are still madly in love. In her new book, The Light We Carry—which will hit the stands on November 15, 2022—Michelle opens up about her marriage to Barack and why it’s still just as strong all these years later. An excerpt from her novel, which People published on November 10, 2022, shares a glimpse into the foundation of their long-term relationship. 

In the excerpt, Michelle mentions how everyone always wants to know the key to their successful marriage. “They ask how we have managed to stay both married and unmiserable for 30 years now,” Michelle writes. “I want to say, ‘Yes, truly, it’s a surprise to us too sometimes!’ And really, I’m not joking.” The bestselling author admits that while they have their disagreements, at the core of their relationship is an unwavering love that’s real and permanent. “I love the man, and he loves me—now, still, and seemingly forever,” she expresses. 

The attorney admits that while their habits aren’t always aligned, what they do have in common is their commitment to one another, which she credits as the source of their long-term marriage. “We are, in many ways, very different people,” she explains. “He's a night owl who enjoys solitary pursuits. I'm an early bird who loves a crowded room. In my opinion, he spends too much time golfing. In his opinion, I watch too much lowbrow TV. But between us, there's a loving assuredness that's as simple as knowing the other person is there to stay, no matter what. This is what I think people pick up on in those photos: that tiny triumph we feel, knowing that neither one of us has walked away. We remain.”

Another source of their marital happiness? Accepting one another for who they are. “Our marriage is a place where we can each be thoroughly, comfortably, often annoyingly ourselves,” Michelle shares. “For us, it's a solid certainty in a world where certainty seems hard to come by.”

After 33 years together, Michelle notes that their relationship has grown deeper because they work at it. “The change is in what’s between us, the million small adjustments, compromises, and sacrifices we’ve each made in order to accommodate the close presence of the other,” she says. “Whatever seed of mutual curiosity got planted in the moment we met and started to talk, that's the thing we have grown over time into certainty. That's the ongoing miracle, the conversation still under way, the home in which we live.”

Michelle and Barack model a balanced marriage for their two daughters, Sasha and Malia. Whenever Michelle gives relationship advice to her children, she urges them to find a partner who will encourage them to become a better person instead of seeking out a solution. “You don't want to settle down with someone because you're looking for a breadwinner, or a caregiver, or a parent for your kids, or a rescue from your problems,” she says she tells them. “The goal, instead, is to find someone who will do the work with you, not for you, contributing on all fronts and in all ways. When someone wants to play just one role, declaring anything like ‘I make the money, so don't expect me to change diapers,’ my advice would be to start running for the hills.”

The politicians met in 1989 in Chicago when the former first president was a summer associate at Michelle’s law office. Three years later, on October 3, 1992, they said “I do” in the same state where they first crossed paths. Their marriage continued to thrive when Obama served as president of the United States for two terms—after he won the 2008 and 2012 presidential elections. They recently celebrated their 30th anniversary on October 3, 2022 with a heartfelt message on Instagram. “Miche, After 30 years, I’m not sure why you look exactly the same and I don’t,” he jokes in the post. “I do know that I won the lottery that day—that I couldn’t have asked for a better life partner. Happy anniversary, sweetheart!”

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