Michelle Obama isn't afraid to speak candidly about her marriage to Barack Obama, as evidenced by her new book Becoming, which documents the political couple's triumphs, struggles, and everything in between. Despite those ups and down, the former first lady is the first to admit that her journey has been that much more meaningful because of her choice in husband. Now, she's sharing her best relationship advice—advice she followed when she first met the former president nearly 30 years ago.
Her biggest tip? Find someone who has already done all of their growing up, Michelle explained in a cover interview with Essence. "I think a lot of people don't have a clear idea of what they should look for in a mate—and for a long time, I didn't either," she admitted. "What drew me to Barack was that when I met him, he was already a fully formed individual. From our very first conversations, he showed me that he wasn't afraid to express his fears and doubts, or that he might not have all the answers."
It's just as important to find someone that appreciates your work and personal goals, she continued—a trait the Becoming author noticed in her future-husband almost immediately. "He could handle someone with her own passions and goals, someone who had ideas of her own," she says. "He relished it, in fact. I liked that."
Michelle also observed how Barack treated the women in his life, since she knew that would carry over into their romantic relationship. "I saw who he was not only in the way he treated me but in the way he interacted with others outside of our relationship. He showed me that he respected women by the way he treated his mother, his sisters, and his grandmother," she said, adding that her husband's values never changed. "These were all things I learned long before we were married. It was all on display when we dated: He was consistent, he was honest, he was respectful, and he was secure in himself and secure in us. He hasn't been perfect, but those things have never wavered."