In the eight years that Michelle and Barack Obama were the first couple, one thing was proven undoubtedly true: Their relationship is a healthy one. It has to take not only a strong connection but also intense respect for one another to be able to withstand the pressures of being in the public eye and make it through not one, but two presidential elections together. (We’re going to think of that the next time our partner leaves a wet towel on the bed.) Thanks to a recent article on Psychology Today detailing the key facets of the couple’s partnership, we can learn a lot about love from the Obamas. Read on to see the key factors characteristic of a healthy, romantic relationship, as displayed by the pair.
Michelle said that when she first met Barack, they weren’t similar in many ways. But it was when she heard him talk freely about his love for his family that she knew they had something extremely important in common—perhaps the most important thing. “When Barack started telling me about his family—that’s when I knew I had found a kindred spirit, someone whose values and upbringing were so much like mine,” Michelle said at the Democratic National Convention in 2012. Although it’s humanly impossible to have everything in common with your partner, it is necessary to agree on big-picture things like whether you want children and what role family will play in your life.
In Barack’s two terms as POTUS, Michelle was never in the wings. They were very much equal in their relationship, and Michelle even took on her own platforms—like nutritional school meals—which she worked on independently and with great passion. So it should come as no surprise that it was during Obama’s presidency that equal marriage rights were instituted.
Another thing that stands out is how generous Michelle and Barack are with their love for one another, always holding hands and giving each other warm glances, even in the public eye. They speak highly of their other half in speeches, openly doling out compliments. In his last speech as president, Barack told Michelle, “You made the White House a place that belongs to everybody. When the new generation sets its sights higher, it’s because it has you as a role model.”