And their secret to building a love that lasts forever.
Michelle Robinson was newly graduated from Harvard Law School and working at a corporate law firm when she was assigned to be Barack Obama’s advisor. He was a summer associate as he finished law school, also at Harvard.
“I went to Harvard and he went to Harvard, and the firm thought, ‘Oh, we’ll hook these two people up,'” Michelle said.
After about a month working together, Barack asked Michelle out. “I thought no way,” she said, “This is completely tacky.”
But Barack is not easily deterred. He understood that the reason she didn’t want to go out with him wasn’t that she wasn’t interested, but that she didn’t want to go out with someone she worked with. Barack realized there was an easy solution: “I offered to quit my job, and at last she relented.”
Michelle decided to go out with Barack – and didn’t even make him quit his job. They ate lunch at the Art Institute of Chicago, went for a walk, ate ice cream and watched “Do the Right Thing” by Spike Lee. “He was trying to show me his sophisticated side by selecting an independent filmmaker,” Michelle said.
It looks like it worked, because Michelle and Barack began dating.
Michelle brought Barack home to meet her family and her brother secretly subjected Barack to a character test: a game of basketball. Michelle’s brother, Craig said, “You can really tell selfishness on the basketball court. You know, he wasn’t selfish.”
Even though he’d won over the Robinson family, Michelle wasn’t convinced. However, she did say, “(I)t sort of made me look at him a little more closely.”
One night, after Michelle and Barack had been dating for a couple years, they were at a restaurant celebrating Barack passing the bar. When the waiter brought the dessert tray over, there was a ring.
Barack and Michelle married on October 3, 1992. Of their vows, Michelle recalls, “Barack didn’t pledge riches, only a life that would be interesting. On that promise he delivered.”
The two have been through political campaigns, two terms in the White House and parenting two daughters among many other great accomplishments. Through all of it, Michelle and Barack have stayed in love, building the strength of their relationship.
In fact, in a conversation with Oprah Winfrey, Michelle explained that it is actually the challenges of life that reveal true love. She said, “It has to be a true partnership and you have to really, really like and respect the person that you’re married to because it is a hard road… There are highs and lows but in the end you can look him in the eye and say ‘I like you’ … I think you go through that wonderful love stage, but when it gets hard, you need a little bit more.”
Barck’s sentiment was similar, he said, “Obviously I couldn’t have done anything that I’ve done without Michelle … not only has she been a great first lady, she is just my rock. I count on her in so many ways every single day.”
At the end of the day, Barack and Michelle are good partners because they’re best friends. Barack said, “You’re not only my wife and the mother of my children, you’re my best friend. I love your strength, your grace, and your determination. And I love you more each day.”