November 22, 2022

Michelle Obama gets Honest about the Hard, Unglamorous Side of Long-term Love.

I want to share something that I still get nervous saying out loud to myself:

I’m not always happy in my relationship.

There are mornings I wake up and feel less than content or gracious for my otherwise-healthy partnership.

In fact, some days I feel unhappy. Unappreciated. Unseen. Overworked. Underloved.

Downright, f*ckin’ bothered.

I used to try my hardest to stuff these feelings down. To pretend I wasn’t experiencing something I viewed as negative about a part of my life that I thought was supposed to be so positive.

And when I couldn’t ignore these feelings anymore, when the dam finally broke, I’d let the unhappiness swallow me whole. I’d convince myself that these feelings were a sign that maybe we weren’t meant to be. That this relationship was destined to end, just like the ones before it.

It’s taken years for me to get to an emotionally healthy place where I can (on most days) validate my feelings about my relationship in any given moment without letting that moment define my relationship.

Where I can say “I’m not happy right now,” without it meaning more than exactly that. I’m not happy…right now.

But there are still days and moments when I slip back into my old habits. When I refuse to admit that I’m even feeling the bad feelings. When I let the “hard” in my relationship swallow me up.

When I find myself in this place, it can be helpful to hear from those who have been doing this relationship dance longer and are willing to share the advice that pulled them through.

This weekend, a friend sent me an NPR interview clip with Michelle Obama, who has been doing this dance with former president Barack Obama for over 30 years. I listened to her words, nodding along in passive agreement.

But today, I felt a tug to watch it again, so I did. And her honesty was exactly what my mildly-discontent-in-this-moment self needed to hear:

 

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“If I look over my marriage, if I were to judge it in year five or year ten, there was never 50/50.

Somebody was always giving way more. Someone always needed a different kind of thing. You have to evolve with it.

And so yeah, there were times when I felt like I was 70 percent in and he was doing 30 percent. Because of the choices that I made in terms of how I wanted our family to look. I had to take my foot off of my career gas pedal, never putting on the brake but slowing up a little bit. Those are the natural compromises that are required.

And I feel bad when I see young people giving up on their relationships because there are periods of hard. So I think it’s important for us to be honest in those conversations. Not to glamorize what a partnership feels like, because then young people quit too soon. They quit before they’ve really played out the full scenario.”

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And bonus advice straight from Mrs. Obama’s Instagram page:

 

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A post shared by Michelle Obama (@michelleobama)

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