Barack and Michelle Obama: A Photo Timeline of One of the Most Loyal Relationships in Politics

Barack and Michelle Obama were the face of politics for eight years while former President Obama ran the country. But regardless of which side you’re on, one thing we can all agree on is their marriage was rock solid through his entire presidency. This political couple was never plagued with cheating scandals or unfaithfulness of any kind — and they continue to stand by each other’s side through everything. Here is a timeline of the relationship that makes Barack and Michelle one of the most loyal couples in politics.

1989: Barack and Michelle Obama meet at her law firm

Barack and Michelle

This photo was taken after the couple was married, but clearly their relationship worked out after that initial meeting. | Michelle Obama (archived) via Instagram

Michelle and Barack met back in 1989 when he became a summer associate at the law firm where Michelle worked. He was 28 and she was 25 at the time, but the two had both done post-grad at Harvard, so the firm decided to make Michelle a mentor for Barack. Barack asked Michelle on a date, and she said no at first. Barack said he asked her out several times over the course of his stay at the firm, and she eventually said yes.

Next: They went on their first date several months after he initially asked her out. 

1989: The two go on their first date in Chicago

Barack and Michelle

This photo of the couple dancing shows the love they have for one another (date unknown). | Michelle Obama (archived) via Instagram

Barack and Michelle spent the day together on their first date. They went to the Art Institute in Chicago, then took a walk down Michigan Avenue. The couple also saw a Spike Lee film, Do the Right Thing, which had premiered recently. They enjoyed a nice lunch at the Art Institute as well, and clearly Michelle was swooned by the persistent Barack.

Next: Barack knew she was the one. 

1991: Barack proposes to his future wife

Barack and Michelle

Barack gives a big smile on his wedding day to Michelle. | Barack Obama via Instagram

When Barack decided to propose, he and Michelle were actually out to dinner to celebrate different circumstances. Barack had just passed the bar exam, so the two headed to dinner to celebrate. “And then the waiter came over with the dessert and a tray. And there was the ring. And I was completely shocked,” Michelle said in an interview.

Next: The couple took an important trip before the wedding. 

1992: The couple takes a trip to Kenya

Barack and Michelle

Barack and Michelle visited Kenya before they tied the knot. | The Obama White House via Instagram

This photo has become one of the more iconic photos of the couple. It has been reposted several times on social media, proving that it still makes its rounds even though it was taken in 1992. Barack has joked  in the past that he couldn’t marry Michelle until he got his paternal grandmother’s approval, so he took his fiancé along on the trip. Barack has since visited Kenya several times.

Next: The couple wed in October. 

October 1992: The couple ties the knot

Barack and Michelle wedding

The couple wed in October 1992. | Michelle Obama via Instagram

The couple said their vows in October 1992. Since then, they have posted several throwback photos reminiscing on their big day. The Obamas were married in Chicago, and Michelle’s brother walked her down the aisle, according to brides.com. They danced to Stevie Wonder’s “You and I.” After the wedding, the couple headed off to the California coast to celebrate their honeymoon.

Next: Things were still going strong a few years later.

1996: The couple poses for a loving photo

Barack and Michelle

The Obamas looking classy in 1996. | The Obama White House via Instagram

The context of this photo isn’t known, but it was taken in 1996 and shows that four years after marriage, the couple’s relationship is still going strong. By now, both were lawyers but had not yet had any kids. (The couple’s older daughter, Malia, was not born until 1998.) This photo was posted by the Obama White House in 2015 to say happy Valentine’s Day.

Next: A few years later, they have two adorable girls. 

Circa 2003: The Obamas offer up this fun-loving family photo

The Obamas

The Obama White House Instagram account posted this old photo in 2015. | The Obama White House via Instagram

The actual date of this photo is unknown, but judging by the children’s ages, it looks to be somewhere around 2003. The couple’s two children, Malia and Sasha, are smiling in their parents’ arms. The family life is in full swing for the Obamas, and the following year is about to be a big year for Barack. But their relationship stays strong through it all.

Next: Michelle supported her husband through this exciting time. 

July 2004: Michelle supports her husband after he gives the keynote address at the Democratic National Convention

Barack and Michelle

Michelle embraces her husband after he gives the DNC keynote address in 2004. | Scott Olson/Getty Images

In 2004, Barack had the honor of giving the keynote address at the Democratic National Convention. In the above photo, Michelle is seen embracing her husband following his speech. Barack’s political career has kick started, and the privilege of giving this speech was an excellent step in the right direction for him. But the couple’s political journey is only just beginning.

Next: Barack celebrates a birthday, and Michelle is right by his side. 

August 2004: Michelle holds the cake for her hubby on his 43rd birthday

Barack and Michelle

Michelle holds the cake while Barack and the girls blow out his birthday candles. | The Obama White House via Instagram

2004 was also the year Barack Obama turned 43, and he got to celebrate it surrounded by friends, his daughters, and his loving wife. Here, Michelle holds the cake while Barack blows out the candles with his two daughters. One of Barack’s biggest stepping stones in politics came shortly after he turned 43.

Next: This set the stage for the remainder of Barack’s political career, and Michelle was proud. 

November 2004: Barack, Michelle, and their daughters celebrate Barack’s win over Alan Keyes for the Illinois senate

Barack and Michelle

Michelle is by Barack’s side as his political career really kicks off. | Scott Olson/Getty Images

Barack and Michelle are all smiles in this photo together, and it’s no surprise why. Barack has just beat out opponent Alan Keyes to win a seat on the Illinois Senate. Michelle continues to be his biggest supporter through this exciting moment, and the two have plenty of more exciting moments that lie ahead. The Obama daughters also join in on the celebration in this photo.

Next: A warm embrace between the two

August 2008: Michelle embraces her husband after he accepts the democratic presidential nominee for the first time

Barack and Michelle

The couple still stands together through a tough political climb. | Paul J. Richards/AFP/Getty Images

Barack has reached another political milestone, and Michelle is right there with him. In the photo above, the former president has just accepted the presidential nomination for the democratic party, and Michelle gives him a warm embrace to congratulate him. The couple are about to set out on a grueling political journey, and there is potential that their relationship will be tested over the next several years.

Next: Barack and Michelle celebrate this moment with a touching dance. 

2009: Barack and Michelle share a first dance to Beyoncé’s cover of “At Last” at his first Inaugural Ball

Barack and Michelle

The couple looks happier than ever as they dance. | Win McNamee/Getty Images

Beyoncé’s performance at the Inaugural Ball is widely regarded as one of the best of all time. Her cover of Etta James’ “At Last” made headlines for days, and so did the couple dancing. In this photo, Barack is giving Michelle a loving look that shows he’s so excited to be sharing this moment with her. And he’ll be doing it again in four years.

Next: The Obamas take a much-needed vacation. 

July 2010: Barack and Michelle take their family on a vacation to Bar Harbor, Maine

Barack and Michelle

The couple takes some down time to vacation together and keep their bond strong. | Yuri Gripas/AFP/Getty Images

Despite a hectic presidency, Barack and Michelle still find time to get the family together for a quick vacation. Making room for down time proves to help relationships, and the couple can be seen taking in the sites with the family on their trip to Bar Harbor. The girls are about 12 and nine at this point.

Next: This iconic photo of the couple shows how far they’ve come as a team. 

June 2012: Barack and Michelle reminisce on their hometown and how far it’s brought them.

Barack and Michelle

Barack and Michelle reminisce about how far they’ve come as a couple. | Pete Souza/Getty Images

This photo of the power couple was captured in 2012. They’re looking over at the Chicago skyline. It’s a reminder of where they each came from and how far they’ve come as a team. Politics can be dicey, and having so much attention as the president and first lady can make things difficult in a relationship, but the photo shows the couple’s solidarity.

Next: Another warm embrace, and another celebration. 

September 2012: Michelle embraces her husband as he accepts the nomination for democratic presidential candidate for a second time

Barack and Michelle

Michelle has stood by her husband’s side through his entire political career — and she’s sparked some major change herself. | Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

It’s once again time for Barack to accept the presidential nomination for the democratic party. After he gladly accepts, Michelle embraces her husband, once again showing support that she will be by his side through this next campaign. The first four years were not easy, but the first lady isn’t going anywhere; the Obamas stand together as one team. Plus, Michelle has sparked plenty of change in her own right, and she hasn’t finished what she started.

Next: The couple takes a night to themselves.

2012: The couple manages to enjoy a dinner in Washington, D.C. together despite running the White House

Barack and Michelle

Barack and Michelle enjoying dinner in D.C. | Barack Obama via Instagram

In this photo, Michelle and Barack look like any ordinary couple. They’re enjoying dinner together at a nice restaurant in Washington, D.C. Barack looks like he’s enjoying a burger and fries, and Michelle has a glass of wine near her dish. They’re just like any other couple in this photo, despite being the most powerful duo in the U.S. at the time. Squeezing in a dinner date now and then is important to keep that spark alive.

Next: Another term, another powerful dance.

2013: Barack and Michelle enjoy their second Inaugural Ball dance after Obama is sworn in for a second term

Barack and Michelle

Barack and Michelle dance at his second Inaugural Ball. | Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Another presidency, another ball. Barack and Michelle enjoy a dance together at Barack’s second Inaugural Ball. The couple laughs and smiles together as they enjoy one of the most important dances of their lives. They look just as happy as they did at the first ball, which says a lot when you’re living in an environment like the White House. They’re ready to take on another four-year presidency.

Next: Barack shows some love to his empowering wife.

2014: Barack wishes Michelle a happy 50th birthday with this fun-loving image

Barack and Michelle

Barack wished Michelle a happy birthday with this dinner photo. | Barack Obama via Instagram

The president uses social media, too. Barack wished Michelle a happy 50th birthday back in 2014 with this fun image of the couple laughing together at dinner. Again, they look to be an ordinary couple enjoying a meal together — all smiles. Barack isn’t above giving his wife a social media shout out. After all, she’s stuck by him through his entire political career.

Next: Another vacation helps the Obamas relax — and strengthens their relationship. 

August 2014: The couple, along with their daughter, Malia, takes a bike ride during a much-needed vacation to Martha’s Vineyard

Barack and Michelle

The Obamas nurture their relationship with some down time. | Rick Friedman-Pool/Getty Images

This photo shows another Obama vacation. Barack, Michelle, and daughter Malia all ride bikes together in Martha’s Vineyard. Michelle is leading the pack (which seems symbolic for what their family life is like, and Barack would probably agree). The down time is good for the couple and gives them a chance to reconnect with each other and their daughters.

Next: This fun image shows the mini rivalry between the two. 

May 2015: The couple pose in their college shirts in honor of college signing day

Barack and Michelle

Michelle and Barack show off their college shirts. | Michelle Obama (archived) via Instagram

This photo shows the couple having a little fun while in office. It’s in honor of college signing day, and although the two both did post-grad at Harvard, they still have different Ivy League alma maters. Michelle attended Princeton in New Jersey while Barack attended New York City’s Columbia. But their Ivy League rivalry wasn’t enough to keep them apart — and they’re all smiles in this photo.

Next: Michelle takes the time to say happy Father’s Day to Barack. 

June 2015: Michelle wishes Barack a Happy Father’s Day on social media with this adorable family photo

Barack and Michelle

Michelle this throwback of Barack for Father’s Day. | Michelle Obama via Instagram

It’s Michelle’s turn to praise her husband on social media. Michelle wished the father of two a happy father’s day by posting this adorable throwback of Barack enjoying some time in the water with his young daughters. Sasha looks less than a year old, so the original photo is probably from the early 2000s. Barack and Michelle have always set an excellent example for other parents.

Next: Michelle posts another classic throwback photo. 

January 2016: Michelle posts a beautiful family photo to welcome the New Year

Barack and Michelle

Barack and Michelle have kept their relationship strong, even with two children. | Michelle Obama (archived) via Instagram

This family photo is a snapshot from the past, but Michelle couldn’t be more excited to be starting off the new year with the same family (and husband) by her side. This photo was shared in 2016 but it shows the couple still holds a solid relationship. Neither of them are shy about praising the other on social media, and they always post the most tasteful photos with one another.

Next: It’s Barack’s 55th birthday, and Michelle announces it with this touching photo. 

August 2016: Michelle wishes Barack a happy 55th birthday with this sweet photo

Barack and Michelle

Michelle wished Barack a happy birthday with this loving post. | Michelle Obama (archived) via Instagram

Michelle posted this loving photo to wish Barack a happy 55th birthday. At this point, they’re still in the White House, but Barack’s second term is coming to a close. She captions the photo, “55 years young and that smile still gets me every single day. Happy birthday, Barack. I love you.” It’s a solid example of the kind words they always say about one another.

Next: Michelle wishes everyone a happy holiday with this photo. 

December 2016: Michelle posts a loving photo with Barack and the girls at Christmas

Barack and Michelle

Michelle and Barack are all smiles with their two daughters. | Michelle Obama (archived) via Instagram

Michelle loves her throwback family photos. This one was posted on Christmas in 2016, and the girls are laughing and smiling in their parents’ arms. No family is perfect, but the Obamas appear to be as close as it gets. Michelle and Barack have formed a tight-knit unit, and the same can’t be said for some other families that have been through the White House.

Next: This iconic moment concludes Barack’s presidency. 

January 2017: Barack gives Michelle a kiss on his final day in office

Barack gives Michelle a kiss on the cheek. | Kevin Dietsch-Pool/Getty Images

This is a memorable photo of Barack giving his wife a kiss on his final day in office. The two have been through eight years of running the country together, and they’ve stuck by each other’s side through thick and thin. Barack also tweeted for Michelle’s birthday (which had been three days earlier) and said she, “… Took on a role she didn’t ask for and made it her own.” Michelle was his rock through his presidency.

Next: Michelle takes the opportunity to post another old photo. 

June 2017: Michelle posts a throwback photo wishing Barack a happy Father’s Day

Barack Obama

Michelle posted this fatherly photo of her husband for Father’s Day. | Michelle Obama via Instagram

Michelle used another Father’s Day as an opportunity to post a throwback photo of Barack with the girls. At this point, the couple is no longer in office. They’re out enjoying post-presidency perks. The above photo shows Barack with a big smile while holding his daughters. It’s Michelle’s way of showcasing the type of father he is despite having a demanding political career.

Next: The couple is still all smiles, even a year out of office. 

February 2018: The couple laughs together as they wait for the unveiling of their official portraits

Barack and Michelle

Barack and Michelle smile as they wait for their portraits to be unveiled. | Mark Wilson/Getty Images

Barack and Michelle are all smiles as they wait for the unveiling of their official portraits. The couple hasn’t been in the White House in more than a year, and their relationship seems stronger than ever. They look genuinely happy to be together, and it’s probably a big weight lifted from the time they were running the U.S. The happy couple spends even more time together now that they’re out of the limelight.

Next: The couple loves post-presidency life. 

February 2018: The couple is clearly taking advantage of the post-presidency life

Barack and Michelle

Barack and Michelle are enjoying being out of office. | Barack Obama via Instagram

Barack wished Michelle a happy Valentine’s Day with this post of the couple on vacation. They look to be somewhere sunny and warm, and though we’re not sure if this is a throwback photo or not, they clearly seem to be enjoying that post-presidency life. Michelle has her arms wrapped around her husband in a loving way; the photo doesn’t look stiff in the least.

Next: Michelle posts a happy photo from their wedding day. 

May 2018: Michelle shares a touching tribute to her husband on social media

Barack and Michelle

Michelle posted a nice tribute to Barack with this photo. | Michelle Obama via Instagram

Michelle posts a throwback wedding photo of her and Barack, paired with a touching tribute to her loving husband. She notes that he’d had a head cold on their wedding day but it disappeared just in time for them to dance the night away. “Twenty five years later, we’re still having fun, while also doing the hard work to build our partnership and support each other as individuals. I can’t imagine going on this wild ride with anybody else,” part of the caption reads.

Next: The couple attends all kinds of events together, good and bad. 

September 2018: Barack and Michelle Obama arrive at the memorial service for former senator John McCain

Barack and Michelle

Barack and Michelle attend John McCain’s memorial service together. | Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images

Although the couple enjoys their down time, they’re still a very significant part of the political community. The Obamas attended the memorial service for John McCain together in September 2018. Since they met in 1989, they’ve been each other’s date to every event, good and bad, and haven’t let any of the negative times outweigh the positive. They continue to be a leading example of loyalty and seem to be looking forward to many more years together.

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