Impossible as it is to imagine, the Obamas’ celebrated marriage might not have happened if Michelle had been a little less persistent. At the end of the summer of 1989, Michelle continued to work in Chicago while Barack returned to Harvard to finish law school. According to The Washington Post, Barack was dedicated to the relationship and madly in love with Michelle, but he didn’t believe that marriage was necessary, calling it a “meaningless institution.”

Michelle kept turning up the pressure, though, wanting a decades-long marriage like her parents who, at the time, had been going strong for 30 years. In 1991, Barack finally surprised Michelle with a ring after she began to talk once again of marriage, telling her “That kind of shuts you up, doesn’t it?” It might not have been the most conventional of proposals, but it was an effective one. The two were married the following year, taking their commitment to the next level.

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