The former first lady shared how their status as empty nesters has impacted their relationship in a candid conversation with Oprah Winfrey.

By Nashia Baker
February 11, 2020
Barack and Michelle Obama
Credit: Getty

Although former First Lady Michelle Obama and President Barack Obama have taken a step away from the political spotlight since leaving the White House in 2016, the two are opening a new chapter of married life—for one specific reason. When Michelle chatted with Oprah Winfrey during the "Oprah's 2020 Vision: Your Life in Focus" tour, she opened up about how her and Barack's status as empty nesters has changed their relationship. "Parenting takes up a lot of emotional space," she told Oprah, People reports. "Raising a family together is a hard thing. It takes a toll. But if you're with the person, if you know why you are with them, you understand that there was a friendship and a foundation there."

Michelle explained that her and Barack's bond has continued to evolve; their daughters going off to college, in particular, was just as emotional as it was eye-opening. "When the emotions come is when we are getting in our cars and getting on a plane and leaving our babies," she noted. "They're going somewhere where they now live. That's when it hits you. It's like we all start choking up."

She also shared that marriage is what you make it—and that it's critical to contextualize your relationship outside of life's hardships: "You can have chunks of hard, bad times and if that's how you define your marriage by just the hard times, then you'll miss the truth of what's really there."

At the end of the day, she believes that while life has its ups and downs, she and her husband's journey together is a happy one. "We are happy people but why wouldn't we be?" Michelle said. "We have our health. We have each other. We have a sense of purpose. I mean there are things to complain about, he and I believe the two of us, we don't have anything to complain about. That's why we believe we owe so much because so much is given, much is expected. So I cannot sit up here and complain about my life."


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