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Michelle Obama just shared the best advice about not losing yourself to a relationship

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Hannah-Rose Yee
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Her frank conversation with Jimmy Fallon explored her idea that there’s no such thing as #relationshipgoals. 

One of the many surprises about Michelle Obama’s smash-hit, bestselling memoir Becoming is just how revealing it is.

It’s a deeply personal work in which the former First Lady discusses in great, intimate detail some of the most formative events in her life thus far, from meeting husband Barack at her law firm in Chicago to the early days of their romance, their miscarriage and fertility struggles, and then the hurdles that their marriage faced during times when Barack’s political career was on the up.

It was then, after the birth of their two daughters Malia and Sasha, that Michelle suggested that the couple go to marriage counselling.

Speaking to Jimmy Fallon on his talk show, Michelle said that she “absolutely” wanted to tell the story of the lowest point in their marriage as well as celebrate its strongest points. 

“Marriage is hard, even for us,” Michelle said. “We have a great relationship.”

What Michelle hadn’t bargained for was how marriage counselling would have such a profound impact on her life and shape the way that she saw herself. “I’m one of those wives who said: ‘I’m taking you to marriage counselling so you can be fixed, Barack Obama,’ because I was like I’m perfect. I was like Doctor X, please fix him. And the counsellor looked at me and I was like, what are you looking at? I’m perfect?”

As Fallon laughed, Michelle continued: “Marriage counselling was a turning point for me understanding that it wasn’t up to my husband to make me happy, and I had to realise that I had to fill myself up. That I had to put myself higher on my priority list.”

Michelle achieved that by strengthening her relationship with herself. She built in self-care time during her day, getting her mother to mind the children while she went to the gym or stepping back from the routine for moments of pause and reflection.

Michelle and Barack Obama in love

Michelle and Barack Obama

But she also let her husband know about the things she found difficult about his political life, in particular the amount of travel Barack was doing at the time.

Speaking to Oprah Winfrey on the OWN Network in November, Michelle explained: “I had to tap into those parts of me that missed him, and the sadness that came from that, so that he could understand. He didn’t understand distance in the same way. You know, he grew up without his mother in his life for most of his years, and he knew his mother loved him dearly, right?”

“I always thought love was up close,” Michelle continued. “Love is the dinner table, love is consistency, it is presence. So I had to share my vulnerability and also learn to love differently. It was an important part of my journey of becoming. Understanding how to become us.” 

Images: Getty

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Hannah-Rose Yee

Hannah-Rose Yee is a writer, podcaster and recent Australian transplant in London. You can find her on the internet talking about pop culture, food and travel.

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