Michelle and Barack Obama may seem like they have an ideal marriage and that's exactly why she's now opening up—in an exclusive at-home interview with PEOPLE—about the time the former first couple sought help from a marriage counselor.
"Because we're role models, it's important for us to be honest and say, if you're in a marriage and there are times you want to leave, that's normal—because I felt that way," the former first lady, 54, says in the interview about her book, Becoming, out November 13.
"My mother would talk about leaving my father in the spring, when she'd do spring cleaning," Obama says, recounting one story in her hotly anticipated memoir. Did she herself ever consider leaving Barack? "There were definitely times when I wished things were different," Obama tells PEOPLE, "but I don't think I ever thought, 'I'm just checking out of this.'"
In Becoming, Mrs. Obama is candid about the difficulties she and the former president faced. Though their commitment to each other has remained steadfast since their marriage in October 1992, their lives got more complicated as they struggled to get pregnant and after they had their two daughters Malia, 20, and Sasha, 17.
While promoting her book, Mrs. Obama revealed that she suffered a miscarriage and was only able to conceive the girls through in vitro fertilization (IVF). After their daughters were born, the couple had to balance her high-powered career with Barack Obama's burgeoning career as a politician and the stress of being new parents, according to the Associated Press.
Michelle Obama writes that they went to marriage counseling "a handful of times," per the AP.
Through marriage counseling, Mrs. Obama explained, she learned to take control of her own happiness.
"What I learned about myself was that my happiness was up to me and I started working out more, I started asking for help, not just from him but from other people," she said on GMA.
She added, "I stopped feeling guilty."
"I know too many young couples who struggle and think that somehow there's something wrong with them," Mrs. Obama said during the GMAinterview. "And I want them to know that Michelle and Barack Obama, who have a phenomenal marriage and who love each other, we work on our marriage. And we get help with our marriage when we need it."