Barack Doesn’t Belong To Michelle: In Love & Ambition

Originally Posted: Thursday, November 12, 2009

There was an excellent article written about President Obama’s marriage in the New York Times ( The thing that jumped out at me was when one of Michelle’s friends told her “Barack doesn’t belong to you.” Michelle was reluctant for Barack to enter politics but as time went along, she became more comfortable and eventually supported her husband 100%. Although Barack could’ve settled into a comfortable lifestyle, he wanted more. Michelle was no less ambitious, it was just that her husband’s ambition would require their family to be physically separated (often – because he had to pretty much live in Springfield), and publicly scrutinized (another side effect of politics). Michelle’s friend, was attempting to get Michelle to see, that she would have to make sacrifices in order to support her husband’s ambition.

Often, when people pick mates, they pick them based on looks or personality. He’s nice to me. She doesn’t nag me. There are some that may even pick mates based on financial status. He has a good job. But, how many of us are looking at ambition. The inner drive and motivation that a person has to pursue his/her dream(s)? When two highly ambitious people come together – the impossible happens. I’m talking Betty Shabazz and Malcolm X. Their love created a fearless paradigm shift for black people. I’m talking Coretta Scott King & Dr. King. Their love turned over Plessy v. Ferguson proving that separate was inherently unequal. I’m talking Jay-Z and Beyonce. Their love has produced a formidable empire that seems to have no ceiling: clothing, music, club-ownership, sports & entertainment. God only knows what next.

The thing about ambition, is that it can’t be a competition (my company vs. your company/my ego vs. your ego), it has to be a partnership in which both partners mutually support and assist one another for the good of the relationship. It can’t be a problem that one partner may earn more than the other (if there is, then competition is a problem). All financial decisions (especially major) should be discussed and agreed upon but most of all, each partner should be doing and saying whatever is necessary to “give birth” to the dream.

In Michelle’s case, when Barack’s campaign advisors informed her that she was hurting & not helping the campaign, rather than being offended or causing more trouble, she said “Tell me what I need to do.” She put her pride to the side to support his dream. Michelle now has a place within her husband’s ambition as First Lady of the United States, and she is able to fulfill her own passion (mentorship and social justice) within that role. Michelle’s friend was right, Barack doesn’t belong to her. Barack belongs to the people of the United States, and this was evident in his desire to pursue the presidency. What happens when you love a man or a woman, who is so committed to fulfilling his/her “mission” on earth, that it significantly impacts your home life? Do you love your partner enough to sacrifice your time, resources and energy to support him/her on their journey? When we choose our partners based on not only what they can offer us, but the world, we are on our way to building fulfilling, meaningful and progressive relationships, and our community and society as a whole will benefit from such unions.

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