As the last days of the Obama administration drew to a close, the media and the general public engaged in the customary examination of the legacy left by the former president and first lady.
As I read or watched specials on this generation’s most celebrated couple, I began to formulate my own assessment of the Obamas’ legacy that won’t make the history books.
Barack and Michelle, the couple, epitomize love. Love of self, love of family, love of others, love of country, love of God. But to me and many others they symbolize ideal romantic love, Black love in particular.
From the moment we were introduced to them as Potus and Flotus, we admired their grace, charm and charisma. Soon we fell in love with the living representation of what we all aspire to have: a loving, caring relationship based on trust, mutual admiration and respect. You can tell the interaction between Barack and Michelle is genuine and they deeply care about and admire each other. I could easily picture the President coming home after a hard day and dropping his head in his wife’s lap, eliciting a gentle caress. I could also see Michelle with lifted eyebrows and hands on hips voicing discontent with a “Now. Barack!” And my God, the pictures with the girls curled up in No. 1 Dad’s lap or him planting an affectionate kiss on Michelle’s cheek or the girls’ forehead!
The Obamas as symbol of love showed us that contrary to popular belief, Black love is neither non-existent nor unattainable. It does exist! We’ve seen it live and in living color – pun intended. A successful relationship requires both luck or an act of God (finding the right person) and a solid personal foundation of what marriage is. Those of us, believers, know that a good marriage begins with a focus on God and biblical principles. The Obamas demonstrated an effective recipe that contains these values:
Shared attraction + reciprocal admiration + mutual respect +trust + commitment = Successful marriage
Barack’s eyes broadcasted his appreciation for his wife and he unabashedly lauded her qualities every chance he got. Likewise Michelle boasted about her husband. She gushed about him like a teenager on the Ellen Degeneres show. Theirs is an expressive, playful, trusting and yes, sexy relationship. I’m sure there are hiccups that are amiably worked out, but their admiration and respect toward each other were always obvious, even in the small gestures.
The nation witnessed yet again evidence of the unequivocal bond between the Obamas during one of their final public appearances on inauguration day. When a soldier escorted Michelle to join the outgoing and the incoming president on stage, Barack lifted his wife’s hands to his lips and planted a quick kiss there. I fully understood that fleeting yet powerful gesture. It said, “Thank you for being my best friend and being there for me from the first day down to the very last.”
In my humble opinion, the Obamas did for black love what the Huxtables did for the black family in a prior generation. They demonstrated that regardless of culture or race, two people who are on the same page emotionally, intellectually, socially, morally and personally can maintain and enjoy that happy union called marriage.
That kind of love while not common is not however the exclusive domain of the Obamas. You’ve probably seen examples of it in your circle. I happen to know couples who exhibit that kind of passionate, loving and enriching relationship we’ve witnessed in the Obamas. My pastors, Jerry & Jacqueline Martin of Houston, fellow Haitian artist Michèle Voltaire Marcelin and her social activist husband Jocelyn McCalla in New York and personal friends jazz duo Karen and Rick Pasek of New Jersey are a few that come to my mind.
As we say goodbye to our beloved icons, and with Valentines’ Day around the corner, I wish you all “an Obama kind of love.”
Personal Note: A week after Valentine’s Day this year, my husband and I celebrate fifteen years of marriage. We began with the requisite ingredients for a good marriage, but over the years we had to use all the tools of success mentioned earlier to keep the story of us going.
Not all 5475 days were blissful, but with prayer and a committed mindset, our relationship stood the test of time and other challenges and continued to flourish. We’ve certainly aged in fifteen years; however, the essence of what attracted us to each other still provides reasons to like each other. Every once in a while I get little reminders of why our marriage is good. Recently I experienced a stressful incident at work. I immediately picked up my phone and called him. When he greeted me with his customary “Hi, baby,” I said, “You know what, you are my best friend. You’re the first person I call whenever something important happens to me.”
In my memoir, “Cads, Princes & Best Friends,” that recounts a tumultuous decade in my life leading to meeting my husband, I expressed gratitude for being blessed with a best friend who is my prince. I will now add that through the years I’ve had a best friend who treats me like a princess.
Danielle Coulanges and Hamilton Lamarre are immensely blessed to have “that Obama kind of love.” Our prayer is that you have/find the same thing too.
We wish you all ” an Obama kind of love!” and a Happy Valentine’s Day!
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