Marriage in the White House: First Couples Reflect on the Challenges

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On Wednesday night, President Obama kicked off the first round of presidential debates with an homage to his wife. "I just want to wish, Sweetie, you a happy anniversary and let you know that a year from now, we will not be celebrating it in front of 40 million people." Then it was back to business. In the highest position of elected office, you're hired to put your country first. When you've vowed to do the same for your spouse, it's not always an easy bargain to negotiate.

When Barack and Michelle Obama's 20th anniversary conflicted with the President's first pre-election debate on Wednesday, work won out. The first couple sent congratulations to each other via public Twitter accounts, but pushed their private celebration from October 3rd to October 6th, so the President could focus on the debate. Not every marriage could survive those types of decisions, but not every marriage plays out in the White House.

"Inevitably, presidential marriages are different from all others," writes Kati Martin, author of Hidden Power: Presidential Marriages That Shaped History. "To get elected to America's pinnacle of power requires absolute commitment not only from the candidate but from his spouse as well." That's particularly true once 1600 Pennsylvannia Avenue becomes home. How does married life change during presidencies and how do couples preserve their private moments together under a national microscope? It depends on who you ask...