Michelle Obama is many things: former First Lady, bestselling author, podcast host, and now, she’s officially a relationship guru. On the sixth episode of The Michelle Obama Podcast, she and guest Conan O’Brien discussed their respective long-term marriages and served up advice for those dating in 2020. (A word to the wise: Get off Tinder.)
The conversation centered around the differences men and women may form about marriage and their readiness for commitment. Obama remembered that while she “always knew” marriage was in her future, Barack “had a different view” because of his parents’ divorce and grandparents’ “rocky marriage.” O’Brien said he himself wasn’t ready for marriage to his wife Liza Powell until his late 30s.
“The same is true for me, and I think, a man’s inclination to wait and to kind of go out there and search and get himself ready, I think is a good instinct that more young women should think about,” Obama said.
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She went on to say that people should view searching for a partner like assembling an all-star basketball team. “We’d have better marriages,” Obama proposed, adding, “because if you’re looking at a team, the people you want to win with, then number one you want everybody on your team to be strong, right? You don’t want any weak links, you don’t want somebody that you can dominate, you don’t want somebody who’s kind of a loser. Also, if you’re on a team, you’ve got to be able to do everything, especially in basketball, it’s like, you would never pick somebody that says, ‘I only dribble. I don’t shoot, I don’t defend, I just dribble.'”
Obama continued: “You want LeBron [James]. You don’t want the guy, third row on the bench, who didn’t make the team, but we often don’t think about that.” She continued, “What you’re supposed to say, is, ‘I have married LeBron. My version of LeBron.'”
Obama admitted that even if you do snag LeBron, your team may endure some losing streaks, particularly when you’re married to someone with the title “commander-in-chief”:
“There were times that I wanted to push Barack out of the window. And I say that, because it’s like you’ve got to know the feelings will be intense. But that doesn’t mean you quit. And these periods can last a long time. They can last years. But we don’t talk about that, so young couples, they face these challenges, and they’re ready to give up because they think they’re broken. And, I just want to say, look, if that breaks a marriage, then Barack and I have been broken off and on, throughout our marriage, but we have a very strong marriage. And if I had given up on it, if I had walked away from it, in those tough times, then I would’ve missed all the beauty that was there as well.”
Amid the highs and lows and “the ultimate test” that was the presidency, Obama says marriage is built on commitment and hard work. Her advice? Step away from the dating apps. “Do you want to build something with someone? There’s no magic way to make that happen, except getting the basics of finding somebody, being honest about wanting to be with them, to date them seriously, to plan on making a commitment, to date them, seeing where it goes, and then making it happen,” Obama explained, coyly adding, “You can’t Tinder your way into a long term relationship.” Words to live by, as always.
Listen to the entire episode, here:
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