I had written a relationship post last night and deleted it after I found this 1996 interview with Barack and Michelle Obama by the French paper Le Monde. My original piece was a whiny post with no real point, so I opted for this one. The article was originally meant for a book about American marriages, but the book was never published.
Barack on he and Michelle's different backgrounds:
"I think that in a certain way, I’ve tried all my life to fabricate a family through stories, memories, friends or ideas. Michelle’s family life was different, very stable with two parents, a stay-at-home mom, a brother, a dog, that kind of thing. They’ve lived in the same house all their lives. And I think that in a certain way we complement each other, we represent two common models of family life in this country. One very stable and strong, another that frees itself from the constraint of a traditional family, travels, separates, is very mobile." "A part of me was wondering what a strong, reassuring family life would look like," he says, "while Michelle in a way, wanted to break from that model. In a way only, because she’s very attached to family values, but I think she sometimes sees in me a more adventurous way of life, more exotic, and in that respect, we’re complementary."
On why he loves her:
There’s a part of her that is fragile, young, sometimes scared, and I think these are contradictions that attracted me to her. And she makes me very happy. She is very familiar to me and so I can be myself around her, she knows me well, I completely trust her, but at the same time in certain respects she remains a mystery to me." "Sometimes, when we’re lying together," he says, "I look at her and I feel dizzy with the realization that here is another distinct person from me, who has memories, origins, thoughts, feelings that are different from my own. That tension between familiarity and mystery meshes something strong between us. Even if one builds a life together based on trust, attentiveness and mutual support, I think that’s it’s important that a partner continues to surprise."
Michelle found him a bit exotic:
It’s not every day that a girl from the South Side of Chicago meets someone who speaks Indonesian, who has traveled and has seen many fascinating things," she says. "It gave him a rather rare dimension in my higher middle-class work environment. Usually, these people are all cast from the same mold, but he came from elsewhere. He had a high level of conversation, while still remaining an average guy. He had an impressive curriculum, but was very down to earth and liked playing basketball. That’s what I found attractive in him. Our relationship was first a friendship. It took off from there."
The article goes on to talk about whether or not the couple will follow the path of politics. Michelle expresses her reservations and Barack pretty much affirms his commitment to public service.
"What concerns me the most are children and the way they are treated," he says about why he will pursue a career in public office. "As an African-American, I am very concerned about children from poor neighborhoods, the problems they deal with, the total lack of a stable environment to enable them to grow and develop. It depends a lot on the economy, the opportunities they are given, their own selves and their parents.
I love the Obamas, really. Their relationship is such a strong public example of a caring couple who truly has each others back. So while many debate, foolishly, Michelle's looks, Barack clearly sees the beauty in her and is not afraid to say it. I love his openness and deliberative ability to explain his feelings. Where are all of the deliberatively open men hanging out these days? LOL
Michelle was not afraid to take a chance on someone who had a different background than she, who was not wealthy, but who has a love of service, is brilliant, and committed.