As First Lady of the United States, Michelle Obama was always focused on helping others to learn and grow. These days, she and Barack Obama no longer live in the White House and serve as national leaders. But that doesn’t mean that Michelle is done teaching us important life lessons!
That was clear last month when she wrote a lengthy Instagram caption for a photo capturing four adorable poses of her and her husband. And the caption breaks down some of her biggest and best tips for having a marriage as happy and successful as her own.
So, what are Michelle Obama’s top tips for a successful marriage? Keep reading to learn the answers!
The 50/50 myth
One of the first things that Michelle Obama wrote about is a very persistent marriage myth. And that myth is that everything should always be split 50/50. It sounds good on paper, of course, and many think they can create a perfectly equal relationship by perfectly dividing everything from household chores to physical and emotional needs.
According to Michelle Obama, though, the 50/50 thing has always been a myth, at least within the confines of her own marriage. “One of us is always needing more or giving more,” she wrote. “We have to be willing to listen to each other, honestly and without defensiveness.”
In other words, we can’t look at relationships as static things that are defined by contracts and agreements. Instead, we must roll with the changes that occur in our relationships over time.
Marriage as an evolution
Rolling with the changes may sound easy, but change is often the enemy in a relationship. After all, how many relationships end every day because one person accuses the other of having changed?
However, Michelle Obama points out that change should never be the enemy in a relationship. Instead, it’s a core element of a successful partnership. Once we listen to each other’s needs as she described before, we can “evolve together.”
This is a very healthy way of viewing any kind of long-term relationship. Change is inevitable, and nothing stays the same. But when partners are committed to supporting each other, they can help both themselves and the relationship evolve and grow.
Your partner is your home
For the most part, Michelle Obama’s relationship advice is straightforward and not too emotional. But that doesn’t mean she didn’t include one marriage tip that is sure to make you cry!
Her post begins with her declaring that “As an adult, I’ve lived in a number of places, but as far as I’m concerned, I’ve only ever had one real home. My home is my family. My home is Barack.”
What does this mean in terms of committed relationships? Over time, it’s easy to get frustrated at the times your partner messes up, and you may even come to resent the apparent need to take care of your partner. But when you truly see someone as the “home” you always return to, then caring becomes that much easier. By taking care of your own “home,” you take care of yourself just as much as you’re taking care of the person you love.
The dangers of glamorizing a relationship
When we first start dating someone, it’s easy to look past any flaws they may have. This is often referred to as “the honeymoon period.” And couples are often sad to get out of that period, preferring instead the time when they easily looked over any and all of their partner’s problems.
However, Michelle Obama writes candidly about the dangers of “glamorizing a relationship while you’re dating.” According to her, this actually makes things miserable once two people are married. “You can’t paper over problems when you’re living with someone day in and day out.”
Another way of looking at this is that a little confrontation can be a good thing. By speaking up when you have a small problem with your partner, you can keep it from growing into a larger problem. And that helps you create a foundation for a great relationship.
Discord, discomfort, and compromise
Perhaps the bluntest bit of advice from Michelle Obama concerned the fact that being in a relationship isn’t always pleasant. Instead, “you have to prepare yourself for long stretches of discord and discomfort.”
When it comes to things not always being a 50/50 split, you might make sacrifices for your partner that last a long time. For example, Michelle wasn’t always happy with being First Lady, but she was willing to support Barack’s political ambitions for the better part of a decade.
According to her, compromise is the key. Everyone has an idea of themselves as an individual. But being part of a successful marriage means “you have to learn how to make real compromises in the way you’ve lived as an individual.” One then can you start truly working on yourselves as a couple.
Being honest about what you want
Michelle’s last bit of advice to couples was refreshingly simple. She says that everyone with a partner needs to ask themselves a question: “what are you trying to get out of this relationship?”
By way of example, she mentioned how some people may want to get married and have a big wedding and others may want to just have “a lifelong partnership.” Both of these are viable ways to approach the relationship, but both parties should be honest about what they want and need.
In this way, couples can make sure they are compatible and even make way for the relationship to grow by asking one big question: “who are we and who do we want to be?” Only then can you and your partner grow and evolve in the only way that matters: together.