Michelle Obama and Barack Obama have distinct approaches to offering and receiving love, which she explained on an April 25 edition of her Audible series “The Light Podcast.”
Oprah Winfrey interviewed Michelle on the podcast, which featured conversations from book-tour events for Michelle’s memoir “The Light We Carry,” and asked her about how she and Barack negotiate their relationship differently.
Michelle claims that her husband is more vocally and physically loving since he and his family lived far away and didn’t see each other very frequently, but she grew up surrounded by extended family and regards showing love as being present.
“One of the things that’s different in how we show love is that because his family lived far away, and traveled a lot, he had to learn to love at a distance,” the former first lady said.
Gary Chapman, a marriage counselor, developed the five love languages in 1995 to categorize how each person wants to be loved: words of affirmation, acts of service, receiving presents, quality time, and physical contact. While Barack enjoys words of praise and physical contact, Michelle favors acts of service and quality time.
“I grew up with everybody within eight blocks of each other,” she said. “All my aunts, and uncles, and great uncles, and cousins, and everybody celebrated birthdays. So we were with each other, every weekend, twice a weekend.
We were always together. So it was like, ‘Mmm, bye. I don’t have to tell you I love you because I’m going to see you Saturday.’ So love, for me, was showing up. It was like, ‘Yeah, yeah. Stop kissing me. Just do the laundry.'”
Michelle has spoken publicly about additional difficulties in their 30-year marriage, noting in a 2022 Revolt x Michelle Obama special that she “couldn’t stand” Barack for 10 years following the birth of their daughters before finding that “marriage isn’t 50/50, ever.”
“I believe more of us have to be honest about the work that it takes to build a life with another person,” she told Winfrey on the podcast.