While the whole world will be focused on the US President during the Inauguration, women everywhere will be watching how he interacts with the brilliant and beautiful Mrs. Michelle Obama. Our eyes will be watching for those meaningful glances that often pass between the First Couple, those secret smiles they share, the way he holds her hand. We will sigh and swoon as we watch how she watches him lovingly as he gives speech after speech. And we will imagine ourselves in his strong, capable arms as he twirls his woman around the dance floor at the Inaugural Ball. Single or married, in a relationship or alone, all women long for what the Obamas seem to have: an almost perfect, fairy tale romance.
And on Tuesday morning, when the alarm clock goes off and we have to return to work after a long weekend, we will roll over and look at our partners lying there, snoring beside us. And, turning away from their acrid morning breath, we will wonder how we can have that amazing Obama love in our own lives. We will continue to ponder this as we go about our day, drinking our coffee, styling our hair, putting on our make-up. Maybe we’ll even get a kiss good-bye from our partner before we begin our work day. Or maybe not. Either way, we’ll still be longing for that spark the Obamas have.
Well, ladies, I have some good news for you and some bad news for you. You want the bad news first? Okay, here it is: NO relationship is perfect, not even the Obama’s! No matter how great they look twirling around the dance floor together; no matter how sweet he looks when he pulls her into his strong arms for one of their signature hugs; no matter how cool and connected they appear as they fist bump their way through another four years in the White House … they are not perfect! Guess what, ladies … Mr. Barack Hussein Obama has morning breath, too! Yep, that’s right. That tall, suave, romantic hero who willingly carries the weight of the world on his capable shoulders has stanky breath in the morning just like YOUR man does! And he forgets important dates just like your man (only he has secretaries to remind him). After all, he IS the leader of the free world! You think he has time to remember every little minute detail about their relationship? And he probably leaves the toilet seat up, too (although I think they have separate bathrooms at the White House)! Or, if he is one of the rare men who does remember to put the seat down, I’m sure his “aim” is just as faulty as your man’s. The only difference is that living in the White House, Mrs. Obama isn’t the one on her hands and knees, scrubbing his pee off the floor. Some poor maid is.
My point is that, despite being one of the most intelligent, accomplished men to ever hold the Office of the Presidency, Mr. Barack Obama is still just a man. And as such, he is not perfect.
That’s the bad news. Now, here’s the good news: with a little extra effort on your part, you CAN have the kind of strong, loving relationship the Obamas have, especially if it something that you BOTH want. Here are a few tips, culled from recent interviews with the Obamas themselves as well as based on distant observations of their dynamics that will help you achieve that amazing togetherness the Firsts Couple has.
Be his “ride or die” chick. Obviously this only applies if your man is out there doing positive things to make a better life for you both. In other words, if he is out there doing dirt or living on the wrong side of the law, then this rule doesn’t apply to you. However, if your man is out there every day, doing his best to improve your lives and leave the world better than how he found it, then you need to be that ride or die girl. In the face of Mr. Obama’s opposition, whether we’re talking Al Qaeda, the Recession or a Republican Congress, Mrs. Obama has her man’s back at all times. Even though your man doesn’t have to face down opponents like Osama Bin Laden or even John Boehner, he may encounter opposition just as vicious on a daily basis at his job. It could be a boss out to keep him down, a colleague trying to sabotage his work, or even a job that saps his soul. Whatever his opposition, he needs you to be his rock, his haven, his light at the end of the tunnel. That means that no matter how rotten your day was, you may need to hold your complaints and give him a chance to vent about his day first. And when he does, really LISTEN to him … maintain eye contact with him, gently rub his arm or leg as he rants, don’t interrupt him and just be there for him. If he needs you to pick up his dry cleaning so that he can be ready for that big presentation, OFFER to do it before he asks. In being there for him … being totally present for him when he needs it, you are sending him the message that you have his back.
1. Keep the home fires burning. I mean this literally. I have a friend who has been married for over two decades. Despite having advanced degrees and having had a successful (albeit brief) career in politics herself, she now spends a considerable amount of time making sure her household is running smoothly. She figures that if her husband doesn’t have to sweat the small stuff like making sure the bills get paid on time, keeping their schedules organized and coordinated, keeping the fridge full, etc., then he will have more time to spoil her. And he does. He loves not having to worry about details like that. “Men are more into the big picture, anyway,” he recently said. So he spends his extra time finding ways to make more money so that he can take his wife on at least two nice vacations every year. She gets flowers every week just because and he’s happy to do it. He’s always bragging about his wife to his friends. And most importantly, he races home to her every day just because he wants nothing more than to spend his time with her. And he says it’s because she’s made it easy for him to do so by taking care of the home front.
2. Make “Date Nights” more than just a cliché. I’ve heard President and Mrs. Obama both talk about how they carve time out of their busy schedules to spend quality time with each other alone. Whether it’s taking in a movie or having a quiet, candlelit dinner at least once a week, they make being alone together a priority in their lives. And hey, if the Leader of the Free World can find time to watch a chick flick with his wife, then surely your man can do the same with you. But … you’re probably going to have to be the one to plan it. Again, don’t expect him to be able and willing to focus on details like that every week. Doing so is just setting him up for failure and you for disappointment. Just accept that this is your job and do it. He’ll appreciate your efforts, you’ll be happy and your relationship will grow stronger.
3. Keep yourself up (also known as don’t let yourself go). I know we can’t all have Michelle Obama’s long, lithe, athletic body (although I’d kill for her arms). And most of us probably can’t afford to have a personal stylist to ensure that our hair and wardrobe are always top of the line, either. But, Michelle’s beauty goes way deeper than clothes, anyway. I mean, Nancy Reagan had a fabulous wardrobe but even on a good day, she looked like a crone (okay, I’ll admit I’m not exactly a fan of the former First Lady). Michelle Obama’s beauty radiates from the inside. And let’s face it. She’d look good in a potato sack. You can achieve that same inner glow on your budget with a little effort, though. Move more and eat less. Make healthy choices. Spend a little more time in the mirror and accentuate your best features. Has your man always complimented you on your legs? Well, keep them looking good by taking the stairs instead of riding the elevator. Does he go crazy when you show a little cleavage? Invest in a few good bras and keep those girls on display for him. Is he a butt man? Add a few more squats to your workout routine. Be the best you and you’ll both benefit from it.
4. Finally, to quote the Queen of Soul, it’s all about R-E-S-P-E-C-T. President Obama respects his wife, first and foremost. He was raised by his single mother and his grandmother, both of whom were strong, hard working women of integrity, who pushed him to be his best. It’s no wonder then that he chose a strong, brilliant, hard working woman of integrity to be his wife. And so, he respects her. If your man does not respect you, there is nothing you can do to save your relationship, and you shouldn’t even want to. Demand his respect. Expect his respect. And more importantly, BE the type of woman he can respect. If he respects you, he will applaud your efforts to strengthen your relationship and will definitely meet you half way.
No relationship is perfect because human beings are flawed. However, it is in striving for perfection that we find our best selves. Let’s keep working at it and one day, we’ll get there. Enjoy.
Photo: Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images (The Griot, Oct, 23 2012)