Michelle Obama opens up about her marriage and the shooting at the White House she can’t forget in Oprah interview
With the debut of her highly anticipated memoir on tap, our forever First Lady Michelle Obama is opening up in the new issue of Elle magazine with the help of a special friend.
Oprah Winfrey interviewed Obama for the December issue, and the two discussed the White House, her high profile marriage, and Donald Trump.
On her and Barack’s early marriage struggles:
“When you get married and have kids, your whole plan, once again, gets upended. Especially if you get married to somebody who has a career that swallows up everything, which is what politics is. Barack Obama taught me how to swerve. But his swerving sort of—you know, I’m flailing in the wind. And now I’ve got two kids, and I’m trying to hold everything down while he’s traveling back and forth from Washington or Springfield. He had this wonderful optimism about time. [Laughs] He thought there was way more of it than there really was. And he would fill it up constantly. He’s a plate spinner—plates on sticks, and it’s not exciting unless one’s about to fall. So there was work we had to do as a couple. Counseling we had to do to work through this stuff.”
On couple’s therapy:
“Well, you go because you think the counselor is going to help you make your case against the other person. ‘Would you tell him about himself?!’ And lo and behold, counseling wasn’t that at all. It was about me exploring my sense of happiness. What clicked in me was that I need support and I need some from him. But I needed to figure out how to build my life in a way that works for me.”
On how they argue:
Oh God, yes. I am like a lit match. It’s like, poof! And he wants to rationalize everything. So he had to learn how to give me, like, a couple minutes—or an hour—before he should even come in the room when he’s made me mad. And he has to understand that he can’t convince me out of my anger. That he can’t logic me into some other feeling.
On the shooting she can’t forget:
We had a bullet shot at the Yellow Oval Room during our tenure in the White House. A lunatic came and shot from Constitution Avenue. The bullet hit the upper-left corner of a window. I see it to this day: the window of the Truman Balcony, where my family would sit. That was really the only place we could get outdoor space. Fortunately, nobody was out there at the time. The shooter was caught. But I had to look at that bullet hole, as a reminder of what we were living with every day.
On Donald Trump’s birther conspiracy:
“For [Trump] it was a game. But the threats that you face as the commander in chief are real. And your children are at risk. In order for my children to have a normal life, even though they had security, they were in the world in a way that we weren’t. To think that some crazed person might be ginned up to think my husband was a threat to the country’s security; and to know that my children, every day, had to go to a school, and soccer games, parties, and travel; to think that this person would not take into account that this was not a game—that’s something that I want the country to understand. I want the country to take this in, in a way I didn’t say out loud, but I am saying now. It was reckless, it put my family in danger, and it wasn’t true. And he knew it wasn’t true.”
On why she’s still optimistic:
We have to feel that optimism. For the kids. We’re setting the table for them, and we can’t hand them crap. We have to hand them hope. Progress isn’t made through fear. We’re experiencing that right now. Fear is the coward’s way of leadership. But kids are born into this world with a sense of hope and optimism. No matter where they’re from. Or how tough their stories are. They think they can be anything because we tell them that. So we have a responsibility to be optimistic. And to operate in the world in that way.
The Associated Press reported this morning that Oprah has selected the intimate memoir as her new book club pick.
From the very first pages of “Becoming” I knew I wanted EVERYONE to read it. I’ve known Michelle for 14 years, but this book is so vulnerable, I felt like she was in my ear. BOOK CLUBS EVERYWHERE – you’ll want to make this your next selection. https://t.co/hSf6lckWov #IAmBecoming pic.twitter.com/CkZEvIvps2
— Oprah Winfrey (@Oprah) November 12, 2018
Read the rest of Oprah’s Elle magazine interview with Michelle Obama here!