The 59-year-old spoke to People magazine this week while promoting his new memoir, A Promised Land, and discussed the ‘big exhale’ they experienced after leaving office.
Obama admitted that Michelle, in particular, seems to have had a major weight lifted, explaining that she always seemed to feel an ‘underlying tension’ while he was President.
Chilled out: Former President Barack Obama says that his wife Michelle has been ‘more relaxed and more joyful’ since they left the White House four years ago
‘During the time we were there, Michelle felt this underlying tension,’ Obama said. ‘The pressure, stress, of needing to get everything right, to be “on” at every moment’
‘During the time we were there, Michelle felt this underlying tension,’ Obama said. ‘The pressure, stress, of needing to get everything right, to be “on” at every moment.’
Writing in his new book, he also referenced the ‘undercurrent of tension in her, subtle but constant.’
‘There were nights when, lying next to Michelle in the dark, I’d think about those days when everything between us felt lighter, when her smile was more constant and our love less encumbered, and my heart would suddenly tighten at the thought that those days might not return,’ he wrote.
Sometimes, she kept her feelings to herself so as not to burden her husband.
‘There were times where I think she was frustrated or sad or angry but knew that I had Afghanistan or the financial crisis to worry about,’ he added to People, ‘so she would tamp it down.’
But since he left office, both have felt like they can relax.
‘It was like a big exhale right after we left office. It took some time to talk about how she had felt. Once [the presidency] was done, there was possibility of her opening up … but more importantly just her being able to let out a breath and relax,’ he said.
Inside: Sometimes, she kept her feelings to herself so as not to burden her husband
‘It was like a big exhale right after we left office. It took some time to talk about how she had felt,’ he said
Michelle ‘has been more relaxed and more joyful since we left office,’ he added.
Michelle Obama opens up about mental health
In an August episode of her podcast, Michelle Obama admitted to ‘dealing with some form of low-grade depression’ this year.
‘Spiritually, these are not fulfilling times,’ she said, noting that the depression was ‘not just because of the quarantine, but because of the racial strife, and just seeing this administration, watching the hypocrisy of it, day in and day out, is dispiriting.
‘I don’t think I’m unusual, in that,’ she added. ‘But I’d be remiss to say that part of this depression is also a result of what we’re seeing in terms of the protests, the continued racial unrest, that has plagued this country since its birth.
‘I have to say that waking up to the news, waking up to how this administration has or has not responded, waking up to yet another story of a black man or a black person somehow being dehumanized, or hurt or killed, or falsely accused of something, it is exhausting.
‘And it has led to a weight that I haven’t felt in my life, in a while.’
But she added ‘spirit is lifted’ when she feels healthy and surrounds herself with good people, like family and friends.
‘I reach out to my family, and to my friends, even in this time of quarantine,’ she said. ‘I fought to continue to find a way to stay connected to the people in my life who bring me joy, and my girlfriends, my husband, my kids.’
‘It’s the small things, small rituals [that make a difference],’ she said, adding that she makes sure to get exercise in.
‘That allowed us to just enjoy the deep love that comes with a marriage this long. But also to be friends again.’
Michelle has previously spoken out about mental health, as well as ‘the small things’ she loves about no longer being in the White House.
‘It’s opening up my door and walking out and enjoying the weather and sitting on my patio,’ she told the Today show. ‘It’s going to my girls’ game and just really being a mom.’
As for the girls — Malia, 22, and Sasha, 19 — Barack told People that he’s proud of how they turned out, despite being raised in such unusual circumstances.
‘I think we came out of it whole. There were great joys in the White House. There was never a time where we didn’t recognize what an extraordinary privilege it was to be there,’ he said.
‘Most importantly, our children emerged intact and they are wonderful, kind, thoughtful, creative — and not entitled — young women. So that’s a big sigh of relief.’
Obama also discussed the women in his life in the January issue of InStyle, where he described what makes them all ‘bada**.’
He said that most people already know that his wife of 28 years is an ‘amazing’ public speaker — but she’s also an exercise whiz.
‘[People] probably are less aware of what it’s like to work out with Michelle when she’s really in her groove,’ he said.
‘And sometimes that includes her boxing. You don’t want to get in the way when she’s working on a bag — including some kicks. There’s force there.’
As for oldest daughter Malia, who is in her final year at Harvard University, the proud dad noted that she is ‘just buoyant.’
‘She’s somebody who enjoys people, enjoys life, and enjoys conversation. She’s never bored, which is a bada** quality that can take you places,’ he said.
Younger daughter Sasha, a University of Michigan sophomore, is ‘completely confident about her own take on the world and is not cowed or intimidated — and never has been — by anybody’s titles, anybody’s credentials.’
‘If she thinks something’s wrong or right, she will say so,’ he said, recalling that she ‘couldn’t be steered off’ a decision even when she was four, five, and six years old.
Praise: In a recent episode, Obama that his wife and two daughters ‘all have multiple bada** qualities’ (pictured in 2014)
‘I write about it in the book, how we were trying to get her to taste caviar when we were visiting Russia. She was like, “Mnn-nnh. No. Sorry. That looks slimy. It’s nasty. I’m not going to do it — even if I’ve got to give up dessert.” And that part of her character has always been there,’ he recalled.
The former President’s new book, A Promised Land, sold nearly 890,000 copies in the US and Canada in its first 24 hours, putting it on track to be the best selling presidential memoir in modern history.
On shelves now: His new memoir, A Promised Land, came out last week
The first-day sales, a record for Penguin Random House, includes pre-orders, e-books and audio.
‘We are thrilled with the first day sales,’ said David Drake, publisher of the Penguin Random House imprint Crown.
‘They reflect the widespread excitement that readers have for President Obama’s highly anticipated and extraordinarily written book.’
The only book by a former White House resident to come close to the early pace of A Promised Land is the memoir by Obama’s wife, former first lady Michelle Obama, whose Becoming sold 725,000 copies in North America its first day and has topped 10 million worldwide since its release in 2018.
Becoming is still so in demand that Crown, which publishes both Obamas and reportedly paid around $60 million for their books, has yet to release a paperback.
James Daunt, CEO of Barnes & Noble, said that the superstore chain easily sold more than 50,000 copies its first day and hoped to reach half a million within 10 days.
‘So far it has been neck and neck with Michelle Obama’s book,’ he said.