*President Barack Obama and his wife Michelle sat down to discuss their union in the New York Times Magazine’s November 1st cover story “The First Marriage,” by Washington correspondent Jodi Kantor.
Among the highlights:
• President Obama’s wedding ring is an intricate Indonesian gold design.
• Mrs. Obama is the second woman he took home to meet his family in Hawaii
• A friend described Michelle’s warmth by saying “She is really Bill, and he is really Hillary.”
• Kantor reports that “friends who visit the White House describe occasionally turning corners to find the first couple mid-embrace.”
• The president reads aloud with his children in the evenings, and he and Sasha are currently reading “The Life Of Pi.”
• Mrs. Obama won’t allow the girls to have cell phones.
• Weekend activities include movies, Scrabble games, and children’s talent shows.
• Relatives will take Sasha and Malia to the bookstore or multiplex, since their parents can’t move around freely.
• The family recently finished redecorating the White House. The first lady requested an outdoor rocking chair for her husband to read in.
On the downside to “date nights”:
“I would say the one time during our stay here in the White House so far that has. . . .” He paused so long in choosing his words that Michelle Obama, sitting alongside him, prompted him. “Has what?”
“Annoyed me,” the president answered.
“Don’t say it!” the first lady mock-warned. “Uh-oh.”
“Was when I took Michelle to New York and people made it into a political issue,” he continued, recalling the evening last spring when they flew to New York for dinner and a show, eliciting Republican gibes for spending federal money on their own entertainment.
On whether they ever considered divorce:
“That’s overreading it,” the president said. “But I wouldn’t gloss over the fact that that was a tough time for us.”
Did you ever seek counseling? Kantor asked.
The first lady looked solemnly at the president. He said: “You know, I mean, I think that it was important for us to work this through. . . . There was no point where I was fearful for our marriage. There were points in time where I was fearful that Michelle just really didn’t — that she would be unhappy.”
On what they’re saying when they’re photographed whispering to each other:
In September, as they waited to greet a long, slow procession of foreign dignitaries and their spouses at the Group of 20 Summit in Pittsburgh, the first lady whispered in her husband’s ear about things “that I probably shouldn’t repeat,” he said.
“She can puncture the balloon of this,” he added, making him feel like the same person he was 5 or 10 years ago.