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According to a new book, Michelle Obama was planning to walk away from her marriage with Barack Obama.  The possibility of divorce was so strong that the author claims that Michelle actually drew up the papers herself.  The new book, “The Amateur,” by Edward Klein goes into detail about the life of President Obama in ways that he would probably not approve.  Klein is the former Editor-in-Chief of The New York Times Magazine, which gives him more credibility than the average hack.

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I read the headline with curiosity, as Klein explains that Michelle was going to leave Barack, after he’d been badly defeated in his run for the Illinois state senate against Bobby Rush.  The family was broke, and Michelle allegedly felt that Barack was being unrealistic in his political aspirations.  The Obamas themselves have admitted to running into “rough patches” during their marriage, but I’m sure most of us get the “made-for-TV” version of their marital challenges.

There is an old saying that “we must spend a few years living like no one else will in order to spend the rest of our lives living like no one else can.”  In no place does this message resonate more than it does in the marriage of Barack and Michelle Obama.  Even if every detail of Klein’s remarks are not entirely true, there are some things we can learn.  Here is a short list:

1) Marriage is not a fairy tale:  Most people who stay together for decades don’t march through years of marriage with comfort and flying colors.  Instead, they have to fight, grind, and remain focused on their objective.  We often hear about people ending their relationships because they “just weren’t happy anymore,” or “I fell out of love with my partner,” as if marriage is like a piece of gum that you replace when the sugar runs out. If you think of love as a perpetual source of instant gratification, then it’s probably best that you never get married.

2) If you aren’t ready for the volatility, then don’t get on the ride: For every woman who fantasizes about being married to the next Barack Obama, the truth is that most people don’t have what it takes.  High rewards require high risk and the ability to stomach significant disappointments.  Those who think that marriage should be comfortable and stable all the time should never consider marrying a man with Barack Obama-like ambitions (or you could also line up with all the women who start chasing the man once he becomes successful).  Obama is a man willing to sacrifice everything in order to achieve his dream, and most women would not be able to live with that kind of risk.

3) Never give up on yourself:  Most successful people become highly familiar with failure during their climb to the top.  Part of the reason that Barack has been so successful in politics and life is that he learned the value of remaining persistent when things aren’t going his way.    Your entire life can change in an instant, and the only people who get to experience the sunrise after the rain are the ones who decided to hang in there.

4) Things are almost never what they seem to be:  Anyone who truly believed that the Obama marriage was as perfect as it appears to be is flat-out delusional. Living your life based on a fantasy is a one-way ticket to disappointment. Don’t believe everything you read and realize that celebrities have problems, just like the rest of us. A strong relationship is possible for anyone, but it’s silly to think that it’s going to happen without a great deal of really hard work and commitment.  So, if none of your relationships are lasting longer than a few months, the truth is that you’re probably not built to be an Obama.


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Dr. Boyce Watkins is a Professor at Syracuse University and author of the forthcoming book, “The RAPP Sheet: Rising Above Psychological Poison.” To have Dr. Boyce commentary delivered to your email, please click here.