Barack Obama Addresses Hard Times in Marriage with Michelle: 'It Sure Helps to Be Out of the White House'

CBS Mornings' Nate Burleson asked the former president about an interview Michelle Obama gave last year, when she said there were times in their marriage that "she couldn't stand" her husband

Scott Olson/Getty From left: Michelle and Barack Obama in 2019
Scott Olson/Getty From left: Michelle and Barack Obama in 2019

Barack Obama opened up about his at-times challenging marriage to Michelle Obama on Tuesday, telling CBS Mornings' Nate Burleson that "it sure helps to be out of the White House" when working on strengthening their relationship.

The former president, 61, approached the topic after being asked by Burleson about an interview the former first lady gave last year, during which she said there were times in their marriage when "she couldn't stand" her husband.

"People think I'm being catty by saying this — it's like, there were 10 years where I couldn't stand my husband," Michelle said at the time. "And guess when it happened? When those kids were little."

She continued: "And for 10 years while we're trying to build our careers and, you know, worrying about school and who's doing what and what, I was like, 'Ugh, this isn't even.' And guess what? Marriage isn't 50/50, ever, ever."

"There are times I'm 70, he's 30. There are times he's 60, 40, but guess what? Ten years — we've been married 30. I would take 10 bad years over 30 — it's just how you look at it," she added. "And people give up ... 'Five years; I can't take it.'"

Related:Michelle Obama Says She 'Couldn't Stand' Husband Barack Obama for a Decade of Their Marriage

Asked about those remarks, the former president said, "Let me just say this: it sure helps to be out of the White House. And to have a little more time with her."

Barack continued: "Michelle — when our girls were growing up, that was priority number one, two, three and four. And so, I did not fully appreciate, I think, as engaged of a father as I was, the degree of stress and tension for her, knowing that not just me and Michelle were under scrutiny and in this strange environment, but that we were raising our daughters in a kind of situation that just wasn't normal."

Related:Michelle Obama Reveals in New Book How She and Barack Work at Their Marriage: 'Our Love Is Not Perfect'

"Now that they're doing good, she is a little more forgiving of all my flaws," the former president continued. "What she's told me is, you know, 'Looking back, you did okay as a dad.' And if I passed that test, then she'll forgive me most of my other foibles."

The Obamas, who first met in 1989 and married in 1992, say they have since worked through the rocky period in their relationship. They will celebrate their 31st anniversary in October.

In a 2018 interview with PEOPLE, Michelle spoke about the couple's post-White House life, saying: "We have dinners alone and chunks of time where it's just us — what we were when we started this thing: no kids, no publicity, no nothing. Just us and our dreams."

Related:Michelle Obama Says She & Barack Are Rediscovering Romance After the White House: 'It's Just the Two of Us'

But the former first lady has also spoken candidly about her differences with her husband, saying in an April episode of her Michelle Obama: The Light Podcast that their relationship has thrived after two terms in the White House, two children and with two decidedly different personalities.

"Barack wants to talk rationally, and I'm like 'rational?'" Michelle told special guest and interviewer Oprah Winfrey in the podcast episode, sharing that she is more "hot-headed" than the former president.

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"Don't come to me with sense — I'm angry! Don't come to me with your three bullet points — you better get out of here and let me cool down!"

Michelle admitted to Winfrey that she believes a marriage should be a work in progress.

"I believe more of us have to be honest about the work that it takes to build a life with another person," she said. "To me, it doesn't seem like it's that controversial."

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