The beloved former First Couple burst onto the scene on the campaign trail in 2007, but Barack and Michelle Obama’s epic love story began almost two decades earlier when the young mentor, Michelle Robinson, was assigned a new mentee, Barack Obama, at a Chicago Law Firm, Sidley & Austin. Ever since they came into the public eye, the pair has been the very definition of #RelationshipGoals. You’ve seen countless images of them being adorable on the public stage, but you may not know all the details of their love story.
So, they met at Sidley & Austin where Michelle Robinson was an advisor to the young summer associate Barack Obama. When told that she would have a Harvard Law Student as an advisee, she said she expected him to be “nerdy, strange, off-putting.” But of course that isn’t Barack Obama’s style at all, and she found herself pleasantly surprised. Charmed, even. In fact, those are the exact words she used in an interview with Chicago Magazine: “I was charmed. I was pleasantly surprised by who he turned out to be.” Plus, he was easy on the eyes. “He was cuter than I thought he’d be,” she said in an interview with CNN.
The pair went on a monumental first date — one that lasted all day long — back in 1989. The day began at the Art Institute of Chicago, where they dined together in the museum’s courtyard. Later, they enjoyed some cocktails together on the 99th Floor of the John Hancock Building, and took in a movie (Spike Lee’s Do the Right Thing) before embarking on a romantic walk down Michigan Avenue. Sounds like a romance lover’s dream of a date.
When Michelle decided it was time to bring Barack home to meet her family, he charmed them just as quickly as he’d charmed her. Michelle’s mother, Marian Robinson, said the following in an interview with People Magazine in 2007: “He was very tall and strong, because she’s strong. And, you know, it just seemed like a good match. I think he’s a nice person and I just think she felt like he was a nice intelligent young man and she said he had a good sense of humor.”
And you can’t separate the politics from their love story — not really — and why would you want to? Barack used to take Michelle all over the place to hear him speak; she was absolutely wowed by his intelligence and authenticity. “He was able to articulate a vision that resonated with people, that was real,” she said in an interview with Essence Magazine. “And right then and there, I decided this guy was special. The authenticity you see is real, and that’s why I fell in love with him.” That’s why an entire nation fell in love with him, too.
The pair were together for four years before becoming engaged. That story is pretty adorable. Michelle and Barack were having dinner –they’d just gotten their desert when Michelle told Barack that it was time for him to get serious about their relationship. In the same moment he set the engagement ring box down beside her dessert.
The two have been wild about each other since Day One, never wavering in their affection. Barack said of Michelle in an interview with People Magazine: “Michelle is a tremendously strong person… But I also think in her eyes you can see a trace of vulnerability that most people don’t know, because when she’s walking through the world she is this tall, beautiful, confident woman.”
Tall, beautiful, and confident is certainly what we know of the former First Lady, who made it clear to the entire country when Barack announced his run for the presidency that she would not be the sort of woman who fades into the background.
The couple, of course, went on to have two daughters together — Malia and Natasha, who goes by Sasha — and Michelle told People in 2012 that, despite their busy schedules, the family was able to be together more while they lived in the White House than they ever had before. “Now, we live above the shop,” she said. One of the most adorable things about this couple? Barack tucks Michelle in every night.
“We call it ‘tucking’,” she said in an interview with People Magazine. “He’ll come and say good night and turn the lights out and give me a kiss, and we’ll talk.”
On top of the way Barack Obama led the country with dignity and grace, the first couple inspired the world with their beautiful love story.