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 (The Obamas in 1992...when they believed in Happy Ever After)

Tongues are wagging.  Oh do tell!

In his soon to be released book, "Barack and Michelle:  Portrait of an American Marriage", author Christopher Andersen "exposes" the dark side of the union of the Presidential couple.

Everyone knows that Americans are obsessed with the lives of the rich and famous.  There's a reason People Magazine has been in business for over 35 years.  Americans love to gossip, we love hearing the "scoop" and we love to dish.

Gossip is as old as time, and while there are many who feel that the private lives of others are none of our business, it is the nature of humans to want to talk, talk, talk about others, anyone other than ourselves.

Given the reality of our busybody tendencies, Andersen's book is sure to be an instant bestseller.

Let me save you $25.99.  

In a nutshell, here's the dirt that Andersen shovels out the He said/She said in the marriage of the 44th President of the United States:

*He was reluctant to "tie the knot".

*She got pissed when he left dirty ashtrays around the house.

*He found her to be critical and bitter.

*She found him to be too self-centered and ambitious.

*They struggled with finances and huge debt.

Sounds like marriage to me.

In the movie, "Mr. and Mrs. Smith", there are several scenes where the main characters played by Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt see a marriage counselor.

In one scene, Jolie says, "There's a huge space between us where we don't say anything to each other.  What do you call that?"

The counselor wryly replies, "Marriage."

In another, the therapist says to Pitt, "There are about a million couples experiencing the same problems."

Pitt wryly replies, "Uh huh".
Sounds like the Obamas are just like Mr. and Mrs. Smith and the rest of the married population.

Show me a couple who's been married for a long time, and I'll show you a couple that has had to go through some dark times to stay together.  Infidelity, finances, health issues, kid problems (oh those kids can cause problems) all conspire to break the ties that bind.

The famous Chris Rock, the marriage counselor disguised as a comedian wisely says, "You gotta love the crust of a person."

It takes awhile before we let each other see the shadow sides of ourselves.  Rock goes on to say, "When you first meet someone, you don't meet him, you meet their representative."

Oh how true this is.  We put on our best face when we meet people, and only time and real life is the true revealer of who we are.

I've heard it said that, "disillusionment is the pathway to intimacy."  

We don't want to hear that.  We've been brainwashed with stories of soul mate love, Hollywood endings and fairy tales that tease with their promises of happy ever after.  

There isn't a couple I haven't worked with who doesn't say, "I never thought it would be this hard.  I never thought we would have these problems.  Sometimes I just feel like leaving and never looking back."

I always laugh when they say this.  Humor is a great diffuser and therapeutic to boot.  "Sillies!" I say.  "EVERY married person feels that way from one time or another, if they're honest.  Go stand in line with every married person who's been in a long-term marriage and you'll find you're in good company.

Relief washes over their faces as they realize they aren't doomed for divorce.  

Personally, I think every marriage should have a periodic sabbatical...with boundaries.  Why should professors and business people have all the fun?

A time apart, a time to spend with ourselves alone, and a time to appreciate all the things we have more than likely taken for granted about our partner.  If it were financially feasible, it could save a lot of marriages.

At the end of the long days, a successful marriage isn't about finding the right person.  It's about being the right person.  It sounds like our President and the First Lady learned that well somewhere along the way.  

Don't listen to me because I work with couples for a living.  Listen to me because I'm married and I should know.  I've done it twice.

(The Obamas sixteen years later when they'd earned the Happy Ever After.)

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