With all the media attention being focused on the politics of the moment, most analysts have overlooked one of the most defining characteristics of the Obama presidency: His marriage. Yet even the casual observer cannot help but notice the Obamas’ friends-and-lovers-too relationship. That’s the image they project whenever they are in public together.
Certainly if you are under forty years old, and you saw the Minnesota hand bump, you took it as a sign of two best buddies celebrating. We have to look deeper, however, into the American psyche to understand why people see the Barak and Michelle Obama as role modeling the ideal American marriage.
People identify with the Obama marriage because lovers, who are best friends, are the type of couple that we admire most. So we notice that the Obamas are relaxed and spontaneous when they are in the public eye. And we acknowledge that they actually are having fun together despite the demands of their positions as president and first lady. Americans also realize that they share similar goals, including raising their children in a nurturing environment. Yet their relationship goes much deeper than what we see in the video clips.
On the night that Barack and his team of advisors decided to make the run for the presidency, Michelle was there as Barack’s supportive best friend. She knew him so well that she interrupted the politicking and asked him right in front of everyone what he hoped to achieve by making a run for the White House. That forced Barack to cut to the chase.
The future president pondered the thought for a moment, and then he said he wanted to make America a place where every child could fulfill his or her dream. As an afterthought, he added that every child in the world should have a similar opportunity. After hearing that, no one in the room could back out or back down. And the race was on. The team had discovered its mission with the help of Michelle Obama, who had prodded Barack—her best friend—to either get it on or get over it–the idea of running for president. This is just one of many examples of how the Obamas’ friendship relationship works in uncanny ways.
In their pressure-cooker world, their combined social and verbal skills help them discover a shared purpose, founded on shared values. This doubles their power to make good decisions in their domestic and public life, as well as with their careers. It also gives them a common ground on which their romantic relationship is played out.
• Mutual trust and cooperation
• Emotional honesty
• Encouragement for expressing one’s true feelings
• An active listening processes where they hear each other out
• Support for each other’s goals and emotional growth
• A collaborative helping process whereby they solve problems together
• A sense of equity that both partners really matter
• Mutual affirmation and self-validation
• Common concern and care for their children
• Supportive mutual friends
• Celebrating their successes together
That is an unusual list of qualities for a romantic relationship. Yet it shows the kinds of attributes that it takes to support a low-stress romance when you have a high-performance career.
Some people find the Obama marriage easy to imagine. Others see it as a long-term solution to the problems that they keep repeating over and over, ad infinitum, in their relationships. But if you’re under twenty-six years old and single, you might be moving too fast to imagine being friends with your lovers. Or, if you’ve loved and lost, and are bitter about it, you might be put off by other’s successes. Still, there is a lot you can learn from the example they set.
Barack and Michelle Obama show what is possible to achieve in a romantic relationship. And just because they are rich and famous, you should not take the stand that you couldn’t do it too. You can have a relationship like the Obama marriage if you work on developing certain relationship skills.
To have a relationship where you are friends with your lover, follow these guidelines:
• Look at your current and past relationships as learning experiences
• Treat your partner like you would like to be treated
• Don’t hold grudges and don’t keep a list of your partner’s faults
• If you get angry with your partner, let it go after you cool down
• Learn to feel confident and relaxed around your lover
• If there’s a problem, talk it over and try to find a solution together
• Be honest with your partner or else admit that you are with the wrong person or are not ready for a mature relationship
• Stay away from potential partners whom you do not trust
• Realize that crazy love passes and transforms in to reward love or it fades away completely
• Understand that true love means feeling rewarded to be around your partner
• Realize that you might meet the perfect person yet not be ready for developing the perfect relationship
• Stop searching for ‘the One’ and start learning intimate communication skills
• Realize that sex and love are only half of a great relationship and that you’ll eventually get tired of your partner if you are not friends
• Realize that feeling like family with your lover is one of life’s most rewarding experiences
• Know that you can’t expect your partner to change just because you demand it
• Get married to celebrate a great relationship, not because you feel obligated
These relationship understandings are not that hard to learn if you work on one of them at a time. Remember, you have to move at your own speed in developing a meaningful, exciting, best-buddies partnership. Above all, you have to realize that the hardest part of achieving a friends-and-lovers-too relationship is taking the first step and truly believing that you can do it. If you believe in it, you’ll see over time that you’ll attract partners who believe in being best friends with their lovers just like you.
-Dr Billy Kidd