I didn’t vote for President Obama in 2008 or 2012. While I may agree on a couple things, my views would largely be in contrast to his on a number of domestic or foreign policy issues. I typically vote more conservatively (although in 2016, for the record, I voted independent). All that to say, this is not a political post. Differing on policy positions doesn’t mean we can’t appreciate each other’s strengths … or dare I say, even like each other.
I have countless friends coming from far different political backgrounds. I don’t see them as elephants or donkeys. They are mothers, fathers, husbands and wives. You can disagree completely with someone, yet recognize when they excel. If your eyes are open, you may even see areas in your own life where you can aspire to be more like them.
Now, I don’t know how he treats people behind closed doors. I only know what I see and what people say. I also believe Luke 8:17 is true. “For all that is secret will eventually be brought into the open, and everything that is concealed will be brought to light and made known to all.” Eventually. And, for the past 8 years, in our President, we’ve seen a loving and devoted husband, and a conscientious and caring father.
When it comes to marriage and family, President Obama has been a shining example of the type of man I want to be. In an interview in 2009, Michelle Obama had this to say about her husband: “He was always special, you know? And not special, like, he’s gonna be important, he’s gonna be president. He was special in terms of his honesty, his sincerity, his compassion for other people. Cute’s good. But cute only lasts for so long, and then it’s, Who are you as a person? That’s the advice I would give to women: Don’t look at the bankbook or the title. Look at the heart. Look at the soul. Look at how the guy treats his mother and what he says about women. How he acts with children he doesn’t know. And, more important, how does he treat you?”
Here are three things I’ve learned about my marriage from watching President Obama these last 8 years.
I need to show love to my wife regardless if anyone is watching. If you’ve seen any photos or media coverage of the Obamas together at events, you can easily see how in love they are. It’s in the way they smile and look at each other. (Find proof here.) You may say it’s easy to act that way when the camera is on. But, I particularly love when they are caught in behind-the-scenes types of moments, and President Obama is stealing a kiss or wrapping his coat around Michelle. You can tell that the cameras don’t affect their relationship and how they act toward one another.
I’m not a public display of affection type of guy. Unfortunately, I’m not even a private display of affection type of guy. Shame on me for that.
I need to compliment my wife when everyone is watching. I’ve loved watching interviews when both Barack and Michelle and there together. The way they interact with each other demonstrates their mutual love and admiration. Every time I hear President Obama mention Michelle in an interview or speech (which is very frequently), I’m reminded the importance of publically acknowledging how awesome you think your spouse is. We are supposed to build each other up, not tear each other down. I enjoy playfully and flirtatiously picking with my wife, but there’s a point when a line needs to be drawn. Truth be told, our spouse is the most important person in our lives. We need to act as such, and make sure others know we feel that way.
Just recently, in his farewell address, President Obama took the opportunity again to shine the light on his wife: “Michelle – for the past 25 years, you’ve been not only my wife and mother of my children, but my best friend. You took on a role you didn’t ask for and made it your own with grace and grit and style and good humor. You made the White House a place that belongs to everybody. And a new generation sets its sights higher because it has you as a role model. You’ve made me proud. You’ve made the country proud.
I’m so proud of my wife and I love everything about her. Oh, that I would be a man that consistently speaks so complimentary about her.
Our marriage needs to be an example, because others (like our kids) are watching. When other people look to your marriage as the epitome of #relationshipgoals, you are doing something right. Sitting in our nation’s highest office, you have a lot of eyes on you. What you say and do is important, because people around the world are watching. When it comes to showcasing a loving marriage, I feel the Obamas have been a shining beacon.
The rest of us don’t have that kind of attention and scrutiny on our lives, so does it matter as much? Yes, because our kids are watching. We need to set an example of what a committed, loving marriage relationship looks like. By doing so, they’ll be able to distinguish between what is real and what isn’t.
Our kids should be learning what true love is by what we are showing them. The question is … are they?