There has never been a first couple like Barack and Michelle Obama. The 44th President of the United States and his accomplished wife have been together for roughly 30 years and married for 28, celebrating their recent anniversary on October 3, 2020. After time as the State Senator of Illinois, two terms in the White House, and book tours and family trips alike, this couple has endured so much and made history along the way. Take a look back at Barack and Michelle’s romance with this timeline of their relationship.
Meeting In 1989
View this post on Instagram
At just 25 years old, Michelle was working as an attorney in the Southside of Chicago when she was asked to mentor Barack. While their relationship remained strictly professional at first, Barack eventually built up the courage to ask Michelle on a date. “Once [Barack and I] started talking and became friends, he was very clear — just like, ‘I want to date you.’ At least in my experience up until then, men would be coy. They would, you know, sort of look around the room. It was all so complicated, and it felt, a little immature,” Michelle recalled to Conan O’Brien.
“What struck me about Barack was his, lack of pretense,” Michelle said. “I mean, he was somebody who knew what he wanted, and wasn’t afraid to say it. And, I thought, ‘well, if he’s that in tune with his emotions that he can say out loud to somebody that doesn’t know.’ He didn’t know whether I liked him back! He was like, ‘look, let me tell you, this is what I think about you: I think you’re special, I think you’re different, and I would like to take you out.’ And that was rare. And it was attractive.”
Wedding Bells In 1992
View this post on Instagram
Three years after their first date in the Southside of Chicago, Michelle and Barack exchanged their ‘I dos’ on October 3, 1992. Over the course of their nearly three-decade marriage, the couple have reflected on that day in the fall when they pledged their love for one another in front of family and friends. “You can’t tell it from this photo, but Barack woke up on our wedding day in October, 1992 with a nasty head cold,” Michelle began the caption to a photo she posted a few months before their 26th wedding anniversary.
“Somehow, by the time I met him at the altar, it had miraculously disappeared and we ended up dancing almost all night. Twenty five years later, we’re still having fun, while also doing the hard work to build our partnership and support each other as individuals. I can’t imagine going on this wild ride with anybody else.”
Welcoming Malia In 1998Six years into their marriage, Michelle and Barack welcomed their first of two daughters after years of difficulty conceiving. In the past, the former First Lady of the United States has been so incredibly forthcoming about what she and Barack endured in order to welcome their two amazing girls. “I felt like I failed because I didn’t know how common miscarriages were, because we don’t talk about them,” Michelle shared during a November 2018 interview.
“We sit in our own pain, thinking that somehow we’re broken. That’s one of the reasons why I think it’s important to talk to young mothers about the fact that miscarriages happen. I think it’s the worst thing that we do to each other as women, not share the truth about our bodies and how they work.” Thankfully, after IVF treatment, Michelle and Barack welcomed daughter Malia Ann Obama on July 4, 1998. But the family-of-three would soon have a new member to welcome!
Sasha Is Born In 2001On June 10, 2001, Sasha made the Obama clan a family of four! Both Sasha and Malia have handled growing up in the spotlight with so much grace, having matured in the White House and lived on the national stage since they were just youngsters. But Barack and Michelle couldn’t be prouder of the young women their daughters have become.
“They’re reflective of their generation in the sense they want to make a difference and they think about their careers in terms of: How do I have a positive impact? How do I make the world better?” the former president shared in a November 24 interview. “What particular paths they take in doing that, I think are going to change and vary between the two of them.”
Illinois Senate In 2004By 2004, the Obamas were steadily rising to the national stage. Barack announced himself as the newly-elected Illinois State Senator in 2004, and began to mold his legacy by working with his constituents. For her part, Michelle was always at Barack’s side on the campaign trail, while still holding down her job at the University of Chicago Hospitals. But in a few short years, the Obamas lives would be completely upended by one of the biggest decisions of Barack’s life.
The 2008 ElectionAs if Barack and Michelle hadn’t already proven that their union would go down in the history of American politics as one of the most supportive romantic partnerships on the national stage, the couple made history in November 2007 when Barack was elected as the 44th President of the United States. For the first time in American history, an African American family was the first family of the nation. The couple felt the pressure to meet all of the challenges that were ahead of them. But it did take a toll on their union.
Re-Election In 2012After four years leading the United States in global and domestic politics, Barack was re-elected to a second term as the President of the United States. But upon reflection, the former commander in chief new that his marriage was struggling through the constant scrutiny. “I continued to sense an undercurrent of tension in her, subtle but constant, like the faint thrum of a hidden machine,” the former president recalled in his latest memoir, A Promised Land.
“It was as if, confined as we were within the walls of the White House, all her previous sources of frustration became more concentrated, more vivid, whether it was my round the clock absorption with work, or the way politics exposed our family to scrutiny and attacks, or the tendency of even friends and family members to treat her role as secondary in importance.” Since leaving the White House, Michelle and Barack have been open about their marital struggles and have been completely transparent about attending marriage counseling. But after two terms in office, everything they endured made them so much stronger.
28 Years LaterAs soon as one chapter started another one came to a close. Michelle and Barack Obama left the White House in January 2017, following the election of President Donald Trump in November 2016. At first, the couple went back to private life — dropping off their daughters at college and spending some time together while pursing their new, individual goals. But as time passed under the Trump administration, the couple chose to use their voices once again, campaigning for President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris with everything they had.
After 28 years of marriage and counting, Michelle and Barack Obama are seemingly as in love as ever. The two regularly gush about one another on social media, and there is no denying that the spark of their love is still very much alight. “Even with everything going on, I wanted to take a moment to say happy anniversary to the love of my life. Every day with [Michelle Obama] makes me a better husband, a better father, and a better human,” Barack wrote in a caption for the couple’s 28th wedding anniversary.
“I love [Barack Obama] for his smile, his character, and his compassion,” Michelle scribed for her own post on October 3. “So grateful to have him as a partner through everything life throws at us.” We cannot wait to see the Obamas love story continue to unfold for years to come.