One of the Obamas’ greatest legacies is their strong marriage

Obama’s farewell speech highlighted that marriage is the glue that holds our society, and our world together. And no one showed that more illustrously than Barack and Michelle.

President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama embrace on stage during a campaign event at the University of Iowa, Iowa, 2012. Pablo Martinez Monsivais | AP | REX | Shutterstock

President Barack Obama’s final speech as our nation’s leader last night is still making waves, but perhaps the most memorable part was the tribute to his wife of 25 years, Michelle. Talking about his wife was one of the most emotional moments for the President while he was at the podium. With my own impending marriage (in 10 days!), I was moved to reflect on their relationship and the impact it has had on our country these last eight years. Yes, we will remember the Obama administration for Obamacare, foreign relations, the economy, and homeland security, but the part of the Obamas’ legacy as First Family that will stay with me the longestand brightest is the example of their strong marriage and reinforcement of the sacrament that is the bedrock of our society.

During his tribute given at McCormick Place in Chicago, the President wiped tears from his eyes, pausing several times to compose himself. He looked at his wife when he spoke about how much he loved her. Barack Obama celebrated Michelle for sacrificing in her role as first lady with “grace and grit and style and good humor.” He said she has made the White House a “place that belongs to everybody.”

Michelle smiled through her husband’s words as she sat with their daughter, Malia. Both mother and daughter teared up at the words spoken by their husband and father. (Sasha was absent from the speech due to a school exam the next morning.)

Here’s the full excerpt of his words:

“Michelle LaVaughn Robinson, girl of the South Side. For the past 25 years, you have not only been my wife and the mother to my children, you have been my best friend. You took on a role you didn’t ask for and you made it your own with grace and grit and style and good humor. You made the White House a place that belongs to everybody. And a new generation sets its sights higher because it has you as a role model. So you have made me proud and you have made the country proud.”

It was short, but spoke volumes, to me and likely millions of other couples in their own relationships, as well as to those hoping for something of their own even close to it. It made me want a marriage and relationship where my husband can express his love for me like Barack praised his wife, who is both a partner and a friend. Barack and Michelle’s marriage is what we should all aspire to, and gives strength to an institution that is often regarded as disposable or optional, whereas it’s just the opposite: marriage and family is the foundation of our culture and civilization, the glue that holds everything together.

Barack met Michelle about 30 years ago when she was assigned his mentor at a Chicago law firm. He asked her out and their first date was a trip to the theater to see Do the Right Thing. Since that first date in the South Side and move into the White House, our nation has watched their relationship grow and evolve, as they weathered the winds of fame and a political career with grace and poise.

President Barack Obama, First Lady Michelle Obama, and their daughters, Sasha and Malia, 2011. Official White House Photo by Pete Souza
Barack and Michelle Obama dance at the Governors Ball, the White House, 2009. Official White House Photo by Pete Souza
President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama watch the fireworks over the National Mall from the roof of the White House, July 4, 2010. Official White House Photo by Pete Souza
President Obama hugs his wife in the Red Room prior to the National Newspaper Publishers Association reception, 2009. Official White House Photo by Pete Souza
President Obama whispers into First Lady Michelle Obama’s ear during the White House Cinco de Mayo celebration May 4, 2009. Official White House Photo by Pete Souza.
Barack and Michelle Obama wait in the Map Room of the White House before welcoming President Felipe Calder—n of Mexico, 2010. Official White House Photo by Pete Souza
The Obamas dance together during the Governors Ball, the White House, 2010. Official White House Photo by Pete Souza
Barack Obama kisses his wife after speaking about health care at a joint session of Congress, 2009. Official White House Photo by Pete Souza
Barack Obama embraces Michelle as they wait to speak at a rally on the campus of Ohio State University in Columbus, Ohio, 2010. Official White House Photo by Pete Souza
The Obamas walk to Marine One on the South Lawn before heading to Camp David, 2009. Official White House Photo by Pete Souza

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It’s fitting that Obama highlighted his marriage and his family in his farewell to the nation. It’s clear that through all the complex decisions, international interactions, and a heavy load of responsibility that surely had to put unimaginable stress them throughout the past eight years, he was not going it all alone: his best friend was there with him every step of the way.

And even though they won’t be in the nation’s most public home anymore, we’ll still be watching as their relationship eases into the next, and likely quieter chapter, with the same amount of hope and admiration.


Editor’s update:

“Thank you for all your comments. This article was in no way meant to endorse or even comment on the policies of the Obama administration or Barack and Michelle’s personal views–it was simply intended as a commentary on the relationship of this particular couple. Everyone was talking about the President’s comments about his wife during is Farewell Speech to the nation, and this was one writer’s reflection on that specifically. We welcome continued conversation about it as long as it’s respectful.”

Chloe Mooradian
Chloe Mooradian
Chloe Mooradian is a recent graduate of Washburn University, where she studied history. She loves Pope John Paul II, listening to Ben Rector, and hiking mountain trails. When she's not buried in a stack of books, you'll find her writing on her blog, hanging out with her seven awesome siblings or spending time with her husband, Joseph. Her life goal is to become the patron saint of coffee addicts.

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