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Obamas' Marriage Not Always Great

By Madeline Holler |

strainedMichelle and Barack Obama have to be one of the few — if not the only — White House partnership a majority of Americans in my generation can actually relate to.

They’re not super wealthy (at least they weren’t until recently), they graduated college with student loan debt, Michelle tackled work/life issues after having children — controversially giving up a great gig to support her husband’s ambitions. The two get what it’s like to be middle-class, post-Baby Boom, equals. Also, they have young kids.

Add this revelation to the pile:

Their marriage was once quite strained.

Richard Wolffe’s recently published book about Obama’s run for the White House, “Renegade,” recounts a time in their marriage when the two were not the happy parents having a fun date night in New York City. Nine years earlier, they looked quite different.

Things started getting bad around 2000, when Obama ran an unsuccessful campaign to unseat an incumbent Senator.

From the Daily News:

“There was little conversation and even less romance,” Wolffe, who covered Obama’s campaign for Newsweek magazine, wrote of that period. “She was angry at his selfishness and careerism; he thought she was cold and ungrateful.”

But let’s drill down to where it all hits home. At the time of that race, Michelle was pregnant with Sasha and raising two-year-old Malia. In the best of circumstances, kids can strain a relationship. But adding senatorial campaign — or really anything that pulls one’s partner away from home? I feel like the appropriate response is, “of course things got frosty!”

We all know how the story ends — or at least how it progresses. Eventually, Michelle warmed up to politics and her husband’s aspiration and her role in it.

Years later, when then-U.S. Senator Obama began mapping out a run for the White House, Michelle was much more open to the idea of a life in politics.

In the end, after deciding that her growing children would be fine and her husband could actually win, Michelle gave her blessing and Obama launched his White House bid.

“We’re going to be fine,” Wolffe quoted Michelle as saying. “We just have to make sure the girls are fine. We’re strong enough to take anything on and be OK at the end.”


Still the most relatable First Family.

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Photo: Daily News

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About Madeline Holler


Madeline Holler

Madeline Holler is a writer, journalist, and blogger. She has written for Babble since the site launched in 2006. Her writing has appeared in various other publications both online and in print, including Salon and True/Slant (now Forbes). A native of the Midwest, Madeline lives, writes, and parents in Southern California, where she's raising two daughters and a son. Read bio and latest posts → Read Madeline's latest posts →

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6 thoughts on “Obamas' Marriage Not Always Great

  1. Leah Kramer says:

    Correction: In 2000 is was actually an incumbent Rep, not Senator that he was trying to defeat. It was not a Senatorial campaign. He lost to Bobby Rush, congressman from Illinois’ 1st District, badly in the Democratic primary.

  2. ChiLaura says:

    I don’t like Obama or his politics, but their marriage seems to be the one thing that I do like about him. They actually DO seem happy, and I wish them the best. Plus, of course, their kdis are adorable. =)

  3. Thank you for your sharing,

    good luck to you


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