Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Millenials Relationships Influenced by the Obamas

I just read this story on Newsweek on how millenials are influenced by President & Mrs. Obama's marriage. It's no secret that I'm an Obama fan but I've tried to stay off the bandwagon on posting stories featuring them. However, marriage education is my cup of tea and this story has some great insights for couples in their 20's otherwise now called millenial relationships.

To be fair - I do believe former President Bush (43) and Laura have a great marriage too. However, the Obama's present a generational shift in how we Gen X'rs and millenials view marriage relationships. Andrew Romano, the Newsweek article author notes the younger generation is much more cautious towards marriage and are marrying later but also want to avoid the divorce options they saw their parents take.

My plug - that's why I so strongly believe in relationship education during dating, engagement and marriage. The programs I use help couples identify areas they are currently struggling with and others they might struggle with in their first year of marriage - it really is a pre-emptive strike against nasty surprises. I strongly encourage couples to participate in any sort of relationship education program easily available online, in churches and often offered by marriage educators and therapists. Okay, off my soap box:)

Great points made in the article: President Obama is not afraid to show being vulnerable towards his wife in public, they share easy banter and flirtious behavior with each other. I watched several interviews they did together and I kept rewinding because they don't censor their attraction to each other - a rarity in public officials. An observable characteristic of our generation is authenticity and I believe that's what the Newsweek article was trying to say about our view of the Obama marriage relationship. It does not feel fake or forced, they interract in language that we identify with and it doesn't always feature the endless adoring gaze. Nothing wrong with the gaze but we like seeing realness and occasional flushes of emotion and other expressions.

He noted a sense of equality or egalitarianism in the marriage - I believe most current marriages are that but I beg for caution. I often tell engaged couples, their relationships will never be 50/50 - that's a misnoma. Some days its 80/20, 40/60 or 0/100 - you don't walk out, you work and wait it out. My version of equality in marriage is not necessarily having similar roles but having equal input and say in decision making. I believe in sharing of responsibilities which is what most Gen Xers and millenials have embraced. My husband often does non-traditional African male stuff like laundry and washing dishes, I've taken the car for oil changes when he was working and I'll take the trash out without feeling slighted. I just realized we celebrated our 13th year of a Valentines day since we first met in the 90's! Flexibility works wonders too - expectations should not be set in stone especially if they turn out to erroneous.

I do believe and research has shown that couples marrying at or after age 25 have stronger chances of avoiding divorce due to maturity, independence, professional growth and financial ability. I don't encourage girls to leave their father's house to run to a husband's house, living alone for awhile is priceless! Learning individual responsibilities & independence helps each partner become a productive member in the future marriage. The strongest research shows couples who attend relationship education classes before their marriage report the highest rates of marital satisfaction in their early years of marriage. So read the article and feel free to share your comments with me.

Alright - I'm going back to actively waiting for labor, I'm due with our second son in 2 days. Thanks for reading this post, have a great week.