The former first lady proved that even the most idyllic relationships take work, but she and the 44th president were willing to do it. She toured the morning show circuit last week to promote her new book, Becoming. In the process, she talked about everything from her personal history and her own experience in the White House to current politics. That included her relationship with President Obama.
"Every time Barack came to me with the idea of running for an office, I was just like, 'Please don't do this,'" she recalled. "'Pick another career. You're gifted. Y'all went to college. You got a law degree. Can't you do anything else besides this?'"
If the idea of stressful public service alone put pressure on the Obama family, the reality of it was a serious burden. Still, Obama admitted that she could not be "selfish" and keep her husband to herself, knowing how much he had to contribute.
King pointed to parts in the book where Obama had written about marital counseling, applauding her for being so vulnerable in her writing.
"I tell young couples it's like when you get married, you've got that moment," Obama reflected. "Those years, if you're lucky, where it's just the two of you. Individuals on your paths. You come together when you need to. It all works until you have kids. Your first joint project where the inequalities are felt, you know... I'm working, and managing child care, and sick kids, and trying to coordinate my job, and he's flittering in."
"Tensions started to arise," she went on, "and we knew that we needed to have a place where we could really work these feelings out."
With a laugh, Obama said that even the future president of the United States was terrified of couples' counseling. She described him trying to avoid the process, offering to "study" relationship books rather than going to appointments.
"'We still study Chapter 12. You read Chapter 13. And we can figure this out,'" she remembered him saying. "You know? It's just one of those things. It's like we don't need help from anybody. And I was like — Because for me I was like, I need to go to somebody who's going to tell you you're wrong — exactly, and I talk about that."
When they did finally go to counseling, Obama said it made all the difference she had expected it to.
"The period of counseling, for me, was a turning point. Because I learned that... I was still responsible for my own happiness," she said. "It wasn't his job to solely make me happy. I had to figure out my space in this."
She also revealed that, even today, she would "absolutely" go back if she felt the need.
"I think counseling is one of those tune up times," she said. "Marriage is hard. All marriages are hard. And even — look, I — you — you know us. I love my husband."
"We have a wonderful marriage. But it takes work," she finished.
Obama's new book, Becoming, was released last Tuesday, and is available now.