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Michelle Obama’s marriage is one of the many things the former First Lady thoughtfully and inspiringly unpacks in her new book, The Light We Carry: Overcoming In Uncertain Times.

While doing press for the memoir’s release, Michelle shared her thoughts on what young people are doing wrong in dating and how they might find a life partner who balances them out.

On NPR’s Life Kit, Michelle said, “So when I talk about my relationship with my husband, it’s because I know that there are a lot of young people who are trying to figure out — what is a marriage? How do you shape a relationship?”

“I am fascinated by how little we talk to young people, young adults, about what it actually means to partner with somebody. And what those compromises look like, and, you know, pushing them to answer questions for themselves,” she continued. “What are you trying to get out of this relationship with this other person? Have you thought it through? Are you seeking a wedding, or do you want a relationship? Those are two very different things.”

 

Michelle Obama on Marriage with Barack Obama

Michelle highlighted that as she and Barack celebrate their 30th wedding anniversary, she encourages the next generation to understand what they’re looking for in a romantic partner and what they’re bringing into their relationships “to make it whole and healthy.”

“It’s not really one piece of advice. To me, it’s a philosophy [and] it’s an outlook,” emphasized the New York Times best-selling author. “In this age of ‘We want everything now, we want everything quick,’ when life is everything but that, we have to understand that marriage is never 50-50.”

“I have found that if you stick with it — over the course of your entire relationship you may have 50-50 over time. But if I look over my marriage, if I were to judge it in year five or year 10, there was never 50-50,” the former First Lady shared. “And so, yeah, there were times when I felt like I was 70% in and he was doing 30%, because of the choices that I made in the terms of how I wanted our family to look.”

While there will be “periods of hard” in relationships, Michelle highlighted that compromise is a natural part of growth and love.

“As I have told young people who ask me about marriage, you have to be prepared to have long stretches of discomfort. And long — I mean, it could last for years,” she noted. “So I think it’s important for us to be honest in those conversations, not to glamorize what a partnership feels like because then young people quit too soon. They quit before they’ve really, you know, played out the full scenario.”

 

The Light We Carry: Overcoming In Uncertain Times is now on bookstands everywhere and available online. See a clip of the interview below.

Hear more of Michelle’s reflection on love and life via NPR.

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