We’ve generally been taught that relationships should always be about balance. Each partner should put in a certain amount of effort and receive that same amount of effort back—50/50 partnerships are touted as the golden standard.
But according to former First Lady Michelle Obama—who’s been happily married to former President Barack Obama for 30 years—the healthiest relationships actually aren’t 50/50 at all. We loved hearing her refreshing take on relationships that allows both partners room to grow, nurture, and be nurtured in return.
The former FLOTUS shared a lengthy post on Instagram that featured four candid black-and-white pics of her and her husband and a caption explaining the dynamics of their relationship.
“As an adult, I’ve lived in a number of places, but as far as I’m concerned, I’ve only ever had one real home. My home is my family. My home is Barack,” wrote the author of The Light We Carry.
She explained that a “perfectly 50/50” marriage actually shouldn’t be considered the ideal because “one of us is always needing more or giving more.” Mrs. Obama then shared with her 51 million Instagram followers the secret to a successful marriage.
She explained that when you’re in a relationship, both people must be willing to listen to each other honestly and without defensiveness. Only then, the mom of two said, can they “evolve together.”
Mrs. Obama noted that over the years, many young people have asked her about marriage, and her response has always been pretty much the same. She said you have to “prepare yourself for long stretches of discord and discomfort.” You also have to learn to make real compromises compared to the way you lived when you were single.
“Glamorizing a relationship while you’re dating will lead you straight to difficulty once you’re married. You can’t paper over problems when you’re living with someone day in and day out,” she wrote.
She finished her post by challenging her followers to ask themselves what they’re trying to get out of their relationship and if they’d truly thought things through. There’s a big difference, she pointed out, between wanting a wedding and wanting a lifelong partnership.
In a society where nearly half of all marriages end in divorce—and women initiate more than 70% of those splits—we think this marriage and relationship advice from Michelle Obama is some of the best we’ve heard.
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