Download PDF Print Page Citation Share Link

Last Updated on October 16, 2019, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 834

All this inborn confidence was admirable, of course, but honestly, try living with it. For me, coexisting with Barack’s strong sense of purpose—sleeping in the same bed with it, sitting at the breakfast table with it—was something to which I had to adjust, not because he flaunted it, exactly, but because it was so alive. In the presence of his certainty, his notion that he could make some sort of difference in the world, I couldn’t help but feel a little bit lost by comparison. His sense of purpose seemed like an unwitting challenge to my own.

In her memoir, Becoming, Michelle Obama reveals intimate details of what it is like to live in the White House—and be married to the President of the United States. A graduate of Princeton University and Harvard Law School, Michelle met Barack when she mentored him at her job as an attorney at Sidley & Austin. She is career-driven, ambitious, and passionate about serving others, and she strives throughout her marriage with Barack to maintain her own identity despite his fame. 

Illustration of PDF document

Download Becoming Study Guide

Subscribe Now
For me, marriage was more like a full-on merger, a reconfiguring of two lives into one, with the well-being of a family taking precedence over any one agenda or goal. 

Though she believes that it is healthy for spouses in a marriage to have their own interests and goals, Michelle writes that “the pursuit of one person’s dreams should [never] come at the expense of the couple.” Her reluctance to sacrifice her ambitions for Barack’s led to some conflict in their marriage, as their crowded schedules frequently clashed, but they worked through these conflicts through couples therapy and their dedication to each other.

When it came to the home-for-dinner dilemma, I installed new boundaries, ones that worked better for me and the girls. We made our schedule and stuck to it. . . . It went back to my wishes for them to grow up strong and centered and also unaccommodating to any form of old-school patriarchy: I didn’t want them ever to believe that life began when the man of the house arrived home. We didn’t wait for Dad. It was his job now to catch up with us. 

After the birth of Barack and Michelle’s daughters, Michelle expanded her stance on marriage to apply to their relationship with their children as well. In order to provide consistency for Malia and Sasha, Michelle established a concrete schedule that did not depend on Barack’s ever-shifting political agenda. In the long run, this helped her married life: the schedule allowed her to regain “calmness and strength” in the political chaos. 

If you don’t get out there and define yourself, you’ll be quickly and inaccurately defined by others. 

Throughout her life, and especially in the limelight of the White House, Michelle has faced criticism of everything from her race to her independence. Throughout her memoir, she emphasizes the necessity of forming one’s own identity, pursuing one’s ambitions, and choosing not to dwell on criticism: Michelle herself tries to “laugh this stuff off.”

We all play a role in this democracy. We need to remember the...

(The entire section contains 834 words.)

Unlock This Study Guide Now

Start your 48-hour free trial to unlock this Becoming study guide. You'll get access to all of the Becoming content, as well as access to more than 30,000 additional guides and more than 350,000 Homework Help questions answered by our experts.

  • Summary
  • Chapter Summaries
  • Themes
  • Characters
  • Analysis
  • Quotes
Start your 48-Hour Free Trial