The Surprising Thing That Helps Keep The Peace In The Obamas' Marriage

Ask any happily married couple what the key to a successful relationship is, and you'd likely expect something profoundly esoteric. The truth is, amidst all the tired cliches about never going to bed angry and an insincere apology being better than no apology, the reality of keeping the peace after years together is much less philosophical. For lack of a better term, it's decidedly...basic. On a day-to-day basis, happy couples, more often than not, give each other space.

Take it from Michelle Obama. After almost thirty years of marriage that includes surviving two stressful terms in the White House, and two daughters, the secret to the former President and First Lady's successful marriage is, as unglamorous as it sounds, having separate bathrooms! In an interview with the Today show from 2018, everyone's favorite FLOTUS hilariously revealed, "One of the keys to a successful marriage is separate bathrooms. When he enters my bathroom, sometimes I'm like, 'Why are you in here?' And he's like, 'I live here. Can I enjoy my bathroom too?'"(via Business Insider).

That seemingly silly anecdote is a whole lot closer to the truth than you'd imagine, and while most of us can't afford the luxury of separate bathrooms, the fundamental principle that she is actually brilliantly conveying is the key takeaway. The secret to a peaceful and happy relationship is as simple as respecting each other's alone time and personal space.

Relationship experts agree that personal space is the key to a peaceful and happy relationship

According to Dr. Terri Orbuch, a psychologist and research professor at the University of Michigan's Institute for Social Research, personal space in a relationship is more important than sex when it comes to a couple's happiness. In an interview with the Sydney Morning Herald, she explained, "When partners have their own set of interests, friends, and time for self, that makes them happier and less bored." She went on to say, "Time alone also gives partners time to process their thoughts, pursue hobbies and relax without responsibilities to others."

If alone time for you is hitting the gym, having brunch and mimosas with your besties, or simply spending an hour in the tub, uninterrupted, it all translates to respecting that special time away from your partner to reconnect with yourself.

Michelle Obama's advice may have been shrouded in humor, but it's relevant nonetheless. And relationship expert John Aiken would agree. Expanding on Dr. Orbuch's theory, he further explained the importance of personal space to the Sydney Morning Herald stating, "It encourages each person to maintain their own sense of identity while still being a couple, and it fosters independence and strength rather than neediness and clinginess."