Barack and Michelle: The First Romantics

Pair redefine president-first lady relationship

By Jason Farago,  Newser Staff

Posted Oct 29, 2009 9:03 AM CDT

(Newser) – Like no other couple before them, Barack and Michelle Obama have made their romance a central feature of his presidency—even his inauguration night seemed like a wedding, the new first lady dressed in white, the couple dancing to a love song. Their marriage is the subject of a 7,500-word piece by New York Times reporter Jodi Kantor, who explored their relationship—and their shared history—in Washington and Chicago. "What I value most about my marriage," says the president, "is that it is separate and apart from a lot of the silliness of Washington."

Kantor chronicles much of the frustration Michelle felt as Barack went off to Springfield to serve in the Illinois legislature. “Michelle would say, ‘Well, you’re gone all the time and we’re broke?’” the president recalled. "'How is that a good deal?'" Yet paradoxically, they find themselves living together full-time for the first time since 1996. Says Michelle, "That’s been more of a relief for me than I would have ever imagined." Friends say it's not uncommon to catch the first couple embracing in the White House, and many have noticed how frequently the pair kiss or touch each other in public. Valerie Jarrett sees that as romantic but also necessary: "Part of what they provide each other with is emotional safety."

Barack and Michelle Obama on the South Lawn of the White House Tuesday, Oct. 13, 2009, in Washington.
Barack and Michelle Obama on the South Lawn of the White House Tuesday, Oct. 13, 2009, in Washington.   (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)
Barack and Michelle Obama at the International Olympic Commitee's meeting in Copenhagen earlier this year.
Barack and Michelle Obama at the International Olympic Commitee's meeting in Copenhagen earlier this year.   (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak, Pool)
Barack and Michelle Obama at the International Olympic Commitee's meeting in Copenhagen earlier this year.
Barack and Michelle Obama at the International Olympic Commitee's meeting in Copenhagen earlier this year.   (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak, Pool)
The first couple leaves the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation in Washington, DC, on Saturday Sept. 26, 2009.
The first couple leaves the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation in Washington, DC, on Saturday Sept. 26, 2009.   (AP Photo/Earl Gibson)
In this Jan. 20,2009 file photo, President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama dance at the Midwest Inaugural Ball.
In this Jan. 20,2009 file photo, President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama dance at the Midwest Inaugural Ball.   (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak, FILE)
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I married you because you’re cute and you’re smart. But this is the dumbest thing you could have ever asked me to do. - Michelle Obama, after Barack told her he was running for the Illinois State Senate in 1995

This is the first time in a long time in our marriage that we’ve lived seven days a week in the same household with the same schedule, with the same set of rituals. - Michelle Obama

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