Barack Obama Said Leaving Office Was "a Big Exhale" For His and Michelle's Marriage
And discussed how they've been able to get back to the "deep love" they share.
In a new interview with People, the former president discussed their marital tension at the time — which he called "the truth of our time in the White House" — as well as how they've come back to the "deep love" they share since he's left office.
"During the time we were there, Michelle felt this underlying tension," he said. "The pressure, stress, of needing to get everything right, to be 'on' at every moment. There were times where I think she was frustrated or sad or angry but knew that I had Afghanistan or the financial crisis to worry about, so she would tamp it down."
Still, he said, "I think we came out of it whole. There were great joys in the White House. There was never a time where we didn't recognize what an extraordinary privilege it was to be there. Most importantly, our children emerged intact and they are wonderful, kind, thoughtful, creative — and not entitled — young women. So that's a big sigh of relief."
Obama told People, "It was like a big exhale right after we left office."
"It took some time to talk about how she had felt," he said. "Once [the presidency] was done, there was possibility of her opening up ... but more importantly just her being able to let out a breath and relax. You know the old adage, 'if mom's happy, everybody's happy'? It very much applies in our household."
Since his tenure in the White House has been over, he said, Michelle "has been more relaxed and more joyful since we left office. That allowed us to just enjoy the deep love that comes with a marriage this long. But also to be friends again."
In an excerpt from the book published by CNN earlier this month, the former president wrote of the toll his presidency had their marriage. There were nights, he said, "lying next to Michelle in the dark, I'd think about those days when everything between us felt lighter, when her smile was more constant and our love less encumbered, and my heart would suddenly tighten at the thought that those days might not return."
"We’ve rediscovered all these little pockets of time, just me and Barack, that for a couple decades have been filled with school events or sports practices," she said. "We’re taking full advantage of this new normal, simply spending time with each other and remembering what brought us together in the first place."