Why Michelle Obama ‘Couldn’t Stand’ Barack For 10 Years & Says Too Many People Give Up On Marriage Too Soon

An easy relationship does not mean a perfect one.

Why Michelle Obama Couldn’t Stand Barack For 10 Years Of Their Marriage Instagram / TikTok

America’s most infamous ‘power couple’ — Michelle and Barack Obama. 

Would you have guessed that even the former President and First Lady have faced their own trials and tribulations within their relationship — even ones that linger for a whole decade? 

It’s Michelle who set the record straight. Yes, even the most idolized relationships go through times of difficulty and struggle. Yes, marriage is not always sunshine and smiles — it takes work. 


And even sometimes, according to Michelle, you might despise your husband

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Michelle Obama reveals in an interview that she ‘couldn’t stand’ Barack for over a decade in their marriage. 

Michelle has never been shy in speaking publicly about her marriage.

Even before this interview, she gave a keynote speech at the 2019 Essence festival, where she was chosen to provide insights into a healthy, love-filled marriage. 

During that speech, she erupted the room with applause by saying, “Marry someone who is your equal. Marry someone and be with someone who wants you to win as much as you want them to win.” 


It’s this incredible insight that has convinced us and the world that the Obamas have a ‘perfect marriage’ — but is that the truth? What does a ‘perfect’ relationship even look like? 

In this recent interview with REVOLT TV from her tour for her latest book, The Light we Carry: Overcoming in Uncertain Times, Michelle opened up about the truth in her marriage to their ‘star-studded panel.’ 

“There were ten years when I couldn’t stand my husband — TEN whole years. And guess when it happened? When those kids were little.” 

”You can be all great individually when you're just married,” she tells the panel. “You’ve got your life and he has his, and then you come together.” 


She talks about the blissfulness in surface-level choices — picking what TV to watch, and being able to travel wherever and whenever. Things change, though, when kids are added to the equation. 

“But the minute we had kids, it was like — 'where are you going and how far?', and you start measuring like 'how many diapers did you change?', and 'oh, you’re golfing?'. That’s when all the measuring starts,” she says about the shift they experienced after having kids. 

Things get messy and complicated when you add children into a marriage. 

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Kids can ‘terrorize’ a marriage — Michelle Obama speaks on overcoming the challenges of parenthood in a partnership. 

“You’ve got this project,” she says about her kids early on in marriage, “and let me tell you — little kids are terrorists.” 

“They have demands. They don’t talk. They’re poor communicators. They cry all the time. They’re irrational. They’re needy,” Michelle says about her children, “But, you love them more than anything.” 

The unconditional love between parents and their children is what makes navigating a marriage so difficult. Michelle says, “You can’t blame them. Look, they’re cute. So you turn that iron on each other.” 

So, during these 10 years of struggle, she says, “while we’re trying to build our careers while worrying about school and who is doing what … I was like, 'ugh…this isn’t even'.”


Her words silence the whole group — “But, guess what, marriage isn’t even.” 

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Marriage takes work, Michelle Obama echoes — “Most people usually give up after only five bad years.” 

“Ten years,” she says about these struggles with Barack. “But we’ve been married 30. I would take 10 bad years over 30. It’s just how you look at it.” 

She continues to talk with the panel about how difficult this new ‘project’ was — dealing with kids, a relationship, and yourself all at once. 

“People give up … five years I can’t take it,” she says about the chaotic initial years of marriage. 


“How do you know?” one panelist says about the confusion of new couples trying to figure out whether or not they’ve made a mistake, are they truly meant for each other? 

“You’ve got to know your person,” Michelle responds simply. “Do you like him?” 

“You could be mad at him, but do you still look at him and go, 'I’m not happy with you, but I respect you. I don’t agree with you, but you’re still a kind smart person.' I mean, the feelings are going to change over time.”

Too many people are quick to ‘give up’ when those initial honeymoon phase feelings fade, Michelle says, but now you’re “in the work of it,” and that’s what builds a great relationship and marriage.


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Marriage is not always 50/50 — Michelle Obama recalls sacrificing for her husband Barack’s success and happiness. 

The same words of advice Michelle gave to REVOLT’s panel she shared in an earlier NPR podcast from November:

“Marriage is never 50/50. If I look over my marriage, there was never 50/50. Someone was always giving way more. Someone always needed a different kind of thing.” 




“There were times when I felt like I was 70 percent in, and he was doing 30 percent. I had to compromise, as he has. I had to take my foot off of my career gas pedal.” 

“Those are the natural compromises that are required,” she says. “And I feel bad when I see young people giving up on their relationship because there are periods of hard — periods of discomfort.” 

“You have to be prepared to have stretches of discomfort,” Michelle preaches once again — even if that means for a decade, especially if you truly love the person. 


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Zayda Slabbekoorn is a news and entertainment writer who focuses on pop culture analysis and human interest stories. Catch up with them on Instagram or TikTok.