Love, Self

Secrets Of The Obama Marriage

Secrets Of The Obama Marriage

Married Since : 1992
Family Album: Two daughters

They met in 1989, while he was still a student at Harvard Law School (where he was the first black president of the prestigious Harvard Law Review). Barack was interning for a Chicago law firm, and Michelle was his summer supervisor. She later told a reporter that she fell for him "for the same reason many other people respect him: his connection with people."

Throughout his political career, she has been an asset. A Princeton grad, she's a Chicago native from the city's South Side. That association helped him win seats both in the Illinois legislature and the Senate. Now an executive at the University of Chicago Hospitals, she's savvy in dual roles as career woman and political wife. In an interview in The New Yorker, she was frank about the stress of the latter role: "It's hard, and that’s why Barack is such a grateful man."

The Obamas live in a $1.6 million house on the South Side, and he tries to make it back every weekend. Family life is a priority, which is why they haven't moved to Washington. "We made a good decision to stay in Chicago, so that has kept our family stable," Michelle told a reporter for The Chicago Tribune. "There has been very little transition for me and the girls. Now he's commuting a lot, but he's the senator. He can handle it. That's really helped in keeping us grounded."

The tidbits of their private life that the public does get to see indicates a normal family. She's on his case to stop smoking and do more around the house. He recently told Ebony magazine that he sometimes leaves his socks on the floor. "As Michelle likes to say, 'You are a good man, but you are still a man.' She lets me know when I'm not acting right." But there are barriers to the public's right to know all about them. When it comes to fidelity in marriage, Michelle told Ebony that she doesn't worry about it. "That is between Barack and me," she said, "and if somebody can come between us, we didn't have much to begin with."

Michelle still isn't widely known outside of Illinois, but the current campaign will change that. "She would be far and away the most beautiful First Lady we have ever had," says  family therapist Terrence Real, author of The New Rules of Marriage. And the marriage is a plus. "It's coming across as quite solid," he adds. "There’s a real love there." Although Michelle is every bit as accomplished as Hillary was when her husband first ran for president, Michelle's résumé (at least so far) appears to be an asset. "I think she will get better treatment—not because we are more accepting of a First Lady with a career but because she's nicer, more feminine, more traditional as a woman," says Love. "Plus they obviously love and respect one another."

Although she's untested in a grueling national campaign, Michelle promises to be a 21st century Jackie Kennedy, sophisticated and stylish, with an Ivy League education and a high-powered career.

Click here for the official Obama campaign site.

Photo: Luke Vargas 2008 edited by Muhammad