What did Barack and I want? We wanted a modern partnership that suited both of us. He saw marriage as the loving alignment of two people who could lead parallel lives but without forgoing any independent dreams or ambitions. For me, marriage was more like a full-on merger, a reconfiguring of two lives into one, with the well-being of a family taking precedence over any one agenda or goal. I didn't exactly want a life like my parents had. I didn't want to live in the same house forever, work the same job, and never claim any space for myself, but I did want the year-to-year, decade-to-decade steadiness they had. "I do recognize the value of individuals having their own interests, ambitions, and dreams," I wrote in my journal. "But I don't believe that the pursuit of one's person's dreams should come at the expense of the couple." - Michelle Obama
"For many women, including myself, "wife" can feel like a loaded word. It carries a history." - Michelle Obama
Michelle as we know, eventually moved her career/aspirations to the side momentarily to help Barack achieve his political goals. She also moved her family from the familiar comfort zones of Chicago to the unknown in Washington, D.C., where everything that they did and said, would be picked apart by the world. Even what clothes she chose to wear or not wear. I can't imagine having people comment on every aspect of my life, globally, but her and her family did it with grace, authenticity and without scandals.
I couldn't image, what it's like to have to go through other people (staff) to talk to my husband at times about important issues or just to arrange a date night together. Michelle discloses all of these intricate details in the book. Their staff didn't always agree with other or with her demands, all of the time. It was interesting to see how Michelle wasn't interested in politics to begin with but Barack wasn't going further in his political career without the consent of his wife, Michelle Obama and their children. Talk about a partnership!
I thought that the way she detailed private parts of their lives from their first kiss to their disagreements, in a way that was still classy and not erotic and raunchy like in some other books. I never knew that for the majority of the beginning stages of their marriage, she was left alone raising the girls (with help from her mother when needed), while he built his career as a senator and then becoming the President of the United States. I didn't watch the movie on Netflix about their life, which possibly revealed this detail. Their love story reminded me of women who are left alone with the children while their husband is off to war.
Michelle managed her home and relationship to the best of her abilities and acknowledged when she didn't know it all or have it all together, and used her support systems when she needed it. Not once in the book did she ever mention having a breakdown or wanted a divorce because life got hard or unpredictable. She dealt with whatever issues aroused in her relationship, career or in her family. This mentality, I aspire to become as a mother, career woman and one day, a wife. Balancing it all is something that you are constantly learning, daily. There is no set formula, because we change, our children and partner change as they age and so forth.
I loved how Michelle Obama was not the passive wife to a senator. She made sure to maintain her own identity, even when she knew being the wife of a senator and especially, the President, required her to not do too much too soon as she mentioned was the drawback of Hillary Clinton when she was the First Lady. Hillary appeared too strong and was told that the people elected her husband (Bill Clinton), not her. I admire the former First Lady's ritual of passing along a binder that briefs them on the things that they learned, connections they've made and anything else that could help the transition into the White House, smoother. The Presidents also get a binder of the same sort.
Overall, I was impressed with this section of the book because I learned more about them as a couple and learned that her healthy relationship was like any other relationship where two people love and support each other, and raise a family together. If there was ever infidelity in the relationship or marriage, she never mentioned it in the book. She only mentioned one woman briefly who showed interest in Barack when they were just colleagues, but he quickly removed himself from the situation.
Have you read this section of the book? What are your thoughts? Share your thoughts in the comments.