The dangers of co-dependence
Counseling was an eye-opener for Michelle Obama regarding several things. And one of the big revelations was that she was developing a kind of co-dependent relationship with Barack.
Despite her own impressive education (like Barack, Michelle is Harvard-educated) and inspiring career, Michelle eventually ended up putting Barack’s needs ahead of her own. While that was a helpful instinct when he was running for president and needed her support, it’s not a good foundation for a happy relationship.
“[Marriage counseling] was about me exploring my sense of happiness and my voice ― the notion that you come to a relationship whole and that I couldn’t look to Barack and he couldn’t look to me to be everything,” Michelle told Oprah. “We had to make our everything on our own. 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.”
The necessity of boundaries
So far, we’ve been focusing merely on Michelle and Barack as a couple. But as their family grew, this affected the overall dynamic of their marriage.
In that same interview with Oprah, Michelle described Barack as “this swerving dervish of a person.” Instead of trying to keep up with Barack, Michelle turned the equation around. She decided that she would be the one who set boundaries for things like the children’s behavior. And as for Barack, he would simply “catch up” to those boundaries.
It’s a subtle thing, but it highlights the need for true equality between them. One person may be too busy to focus on family matters. It then becomes his responsibility to play catch up!