Michelle Obama’s recollection of former President Barack Obama’s marriage vows is absolutely swoon-worthy. The former first lady shared in her memoir, “Becoming,” that she was initially skeptical about a relationship even though he was popular at her firm: “You put a suit on any half-intelligent Black man, and white people tend to go bonkers.” However, Barack soon proved he was far from half-intelligent. One aspect that stood out to Michelle was his love for books. She writes, “He never talked about material things. […] He read late into the night, often long after I’d fallen asleep.”
Unsurprisingly, his wedding promise to her was unique and heart-melting: “Barack didn’t pledge riches, only a life that would be interesting” (via The Obama Foundation). Michelle believed this, just as she had trusted his “impish, I-got-this-covered grin” even when he’d been a struggling student driving a “snub-nosed, banana-yellow Datsun.” She writes, “Life with Barack would never be dull. I knew it even then.”
In 2018, during an appearance on “The Late Show with Stephen Colbert,” Michelle Obama shared the story of how Barack Obama proposed to her. The future president invited her to dinner, claiming it was to celebrate his passing the bar exam. Just before dessert, he brought up a debate they often had: the relevance of marriage in the modern age.
As Michelle, a lawyer, passionately argued her pro-marriage points, the waiter placed a plate bearing a ring box in front of her. “Now that ought to shut you up,” Barack had quipped. They married on October 3, 1992, at Chicago’s Trinity United Church of Christ. However, before they arrived at this point, Michelle and Barack Obama’s stunning relationship endured a nasty fight that threatened to end their engagement.
In an episode on Michelle Obama’s podcast, the former FLOTUS told Conan O’Brien that she’d once gotten so angry with Barack that she took off her engagement ring and threw it away. “We were in my car, I wasn’t really throwing it out, I threw it where I knew it would go.” Michelle explained that the argument had shown her that getting that angry was a poor way to communicate.
Although the Obamas are undoubtedly one of the world’s most admired power couples, they have admitted that their journey hasn’t always been smooth. In a 2023 interview with Gayle King, Michelle Obama confessed there were 10 challenging years in their marriage when she and Barack didn’t get along. She clarified in “The Cross-Generational Conversation” with Revolt that these difficult years coincided with the time their children were young.
Despite this, Michelle clearly stated she would take those 10 difficult years considering the 20 good ones, emphasizing that relationships require effort. She noted that young people often give up when things get tough because they don’t realize every marriage has challenging periods.
Similarly, Barack Obama has been open about the strain his presidency put on their marriage. In his memoir, “A Promised Land,” he detailed how Michelle had to suppress her feelings to help him be an effective leader. However, Barack and Michelle Obama’s marriage changed after leaving the White House, with Michelle feeling “more relaxed and more joyful.” Reflecting on Barack’s wedding vow to lead an exciting life, Michelle said, “On that promise, he delivered.”