Today, we face one of the most polarizing elections in recent history. While President Barack Obama and Mitt Romney may not agree on much, one thing these candidates have in common is their devotion to their families.
Let's take a look back at how these couples met and fell in love.
Michelle and Barack Obama
Photo via Michelle Obama/Pinterest
How they met: The President first met Michelle working at the Sidley & Austin law firm in 1989. The pair spent their first date at the Art Institute of Chicago and walking down Michigan Avenue, followed by a Spike Lee movie and drinks on the 99th floor of the John Hancock Center. "We clicked right away... by the end of the date, it was over... I was sold," Michelle told CNN.
How he proposed: While out to dinner to celebrate Barack passing the bar exam, he secretly coordinated with the maitre'd for an engagement ring to be served along with Michelle's dessert.
Wedding date: October 3, 1992. In their vows, "Barack didn't pledge riches, only a life that would be interesting. On that promise, he delivered." Michelle told ABC. Michelle wore an off-the-shoulder duchess satin gown with a sweetheart neckline.
What they love most about each other: "One of the things that attracted me to Barack was his emotional honesty. Right off the bat, he said what he felt. There are no games with him — he is who he appears to be. I feel fortunate as a woman to have a husband who loves me and shows me in every way," she told Prevention.
On the night he was elected as the 44th President of the United States, Barack remarked, "I would not be standing here tonight without the unyielding support of my best friend for the last 16 years ... the rock of our family, the love of my life, the nation's next first lady ... Michelle Obama."
In an interview with O, The Oprah Magazine, Michelle said, "In terms of his core values, he has never disappointed me. He is a very consistent person — which is why I knew unequivocally that he would be a phenomenal president. He is steady. Has he made me mad? Yes. Does he sometimes do things that I don't like? Absolutely. But as a human being, he has never disappointed. And I would hope he could say the same about me."
When asked to describe each other in three words, Barack described Michelle as "beautiful, smart, and funny." Michelle described Barack as "smart, sportsman, and father."
Barack and Michelle in 1992. Photo via Michelle Obama/Pinterest
How they keep their marriage strong: "When the kids go to bed and after he's done a little reading, we're usually curled up in our den, and we'll watch a show together. Or we'll talk and catch up. It's nothing major, but that's what marriage is about. Not the big, splashy stuff. It's just the little day-to-day sharing and routines and rituals that we still have." Michelle told Good Housekeeping.
"What I realize as I get older is that Michelle is less concerned about me giving her flowers than she is that I'm doing things that are hard for me — carving out time. That to her is proof, evidence that I'm thinking about her. She appreciates the flowers, but to her romance is that I'm actually paying attention to things that she cares about, and time is always an important factor," Barack told Ebony.
"I don't want anyone to think it's easy. We have a strong marriage, but it's not perfect," she told People.
Finding the work/life balance: "Michelle is my chief counsel and adviser. I would never make a big decision without asking her opinion," Barack has said.
"What I value most about my marriage is that it is separate and apart from a lot of the silliness of Washington, and Michelle is not part of that silliness," Barack told The New YorkTimes.
In an interview with Ladies' Home Journal, Barack said, "Being married to Michelle, and having these tall, beautiful, strong-willed girls in my house, never allows me to underestimate women."
Ann and Mitt Romney
Photo via Mitt Romney/Twitter
How they met: These high school sweethearts first met in elementary school. "I'd seen the girl in elementary school, but she was in the second grade, I was in the fourth grade. So, I didn't pay a lot of attention at that point. But when she turned almost 16, I thought she was pretty interesting," Mitt told Reuters.
"I caught his eye, and he never let me go," Anne told The Boston Globe. "I mean, he hotly pursued me, and we dated through high school. Did we date others? No, it was total romance. We really fell, actually, deeply in love in high school, although we didn't tell anyone, because no one would have believed it."
How he proposed: Mitt proposed at his senior prom, when Ann was just 16 years old. "I didn't want to be anywhere else but with Ann. I wanted to be with her all the time and couldn't imagine being anywhere else besides being with her. And so, at the senior prom, as we danced a little bit, we went outside of the school and I turned to her and said, 'Ann, would you marry me?' And she said, 'Yes.'"
Wedding date: March 21, 1969, when Mitt was 22 and Ann was 19. In Ann's speech at the Republican National Convention, she explained, "When Mitt and I met and fell in love, we were determined not to let anything stand in the way of our life together. I was an Episcopalian. He was a Mormon. We were very young. Both still in college. There were many reasons to delay marriage, and you know? We just didn't care. We got married and moved into a basement apartment. We walked to class together, shared the housekeeping, and ate a lot of pasta and tuna fish. Our desk was a door propped up on sawhorses. Our dining room table was a fold down ironing board in the kitchen. Those were very special days."
"That was 42 years ago. Now we have five sons and 18 grandchildren, and I'm still in love with that boy I met at a high school dance."
What they love most about each other: "I know this good and decent man for what he is — warm and loving and patient. He has tried to live his life with a set of values centered on family, faith, and love of one's fellow man," said Ann at the Republican National Convention.
Ann and Mitt on Ann's 16th birthday. Photo via Mitt Romney/Twitter
How they keep their marriage strong: "I read somewhere that Mitt and I have a 'storybook marriage.' Well, in the storybooks I read, there were never long, long, rainy winter afternoons in a house with five boys screaming at once. And those storybooks never seemed to have chapters called MS or Breast Cancer. A storybook marriage? No, not at all. What Mitt Romney and I have is a real marriage."
Mitt's biggest relationship role models? His parents. "Mom and Dad were married 64 years. And if you wondered what their secret was, you could have asked the local florist — because every day, Dad gave Mom a rose, which he put on her bedside table. That's how she found out what happened on the day my father died — she went looking for him because that morning, there was no rose," he said at the Republican National Convention.
"My mom and dad were true partners, a life lesson that shaped me by everyday example."
Finding the work/life balance: "I have never once regretted missing a business opportunity so that I could be with my children and grandchildren. Among the things in life that can be put off, being there when it matters most isn’t one of them," Mitt said in a commencement address at Liberty University.
—Kristen O'Gorman Klein
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