WASHINGTON — How do you combine politics and marriage? Especially when the husband is the most powerful man in the world? U.S. president Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama talked about their marriage and how the presidential lifestyle affects it in a recentNew York Times Magazine article, which was published online on Monday and is hitting newsstands this coming Sunday.
“If I weren’t president,” Barack Obama told the Times in the interview, “I would be happy to catch the shuttle with my wife to take her to a Broadway show, as I had promised her during the campaign, and there would be no fuss and no muss and no photographers. That would please me greatly… The notion that I just couldn’t take my wife out on a date without it being a political issue was not something I was happy with.”
But he added: “What I value most about my marriage is that it is separate and apart from a lot of the silliness of Washington, and Michelle is not part of that silliness.”
The irony, according to Michelle Obama, is that the couple now spends more time together than they have since the first years of their marriage. With their hectic legal and political careers, the Obamas had not shared a full-time residence from the mid-1990s until they moved into the White House this year. “This is the first time in a long time in our marriage that we’ve lived seven days a week in the same household with the same schedule, with the same set of rituals. That’s been more of a relief for me than I would have ever imagined,” the first lady told the Times.
When asked how their partnership could remain equal when one of them was president of the United States, Michelle Obama, 45, answered that she and her husband are still very equal in their private family life, but admitted: “Clearly, Barack’s career decisions are leading us. They’re not mine; that’s obvious. I’m married to the president of the United States. I don’t have another job, and it would be problematic in this role. So that — you can’t even measure that.”
And yet, the president quipped, “My staff worries a lot more about what the first lady thinks than they worry about what I think.”
The Obamas met in June 1989 (while they were working for the same Chicago law firm) and married in October 1992. They have two daughters, 11-year-old Malia Ann and eight-year-old Natasha.
Barack Obama, 48, assumed the presidency last January 20. He is a former editor and president of the Harvard Law Review and was first elected to the U.S. Senate in 1996. Michelle Obama (née Robinson) began her career as a lawyer in the late 1980s.