Barack Obama says his presidency put a strain on his marriage, calling it the "hidden reality" of his eight years in the White House.
In an interview with People magazine, the 44th president called the tensions "the truth of our time in the White House."
"Michelle very much believed in the work I did but was less optimistic about what I could get done," he said, adding: "She's more skeptical about politics and more mindful of the sacrifices to the family."
He told the magazine they emerged from the experience "whole."
"There were great joys in the White House. There was never a time where we didn't recognize what an extraordinary privilege it was to be there," he said. "Most importantly, our children emerged intact and they are wonderful, kind, thoughtful, creative — and not entitled — young women. So that's a big sigh of relief."
"But during the time we were there, Michelle felt this underlying tension. The pressure, stress, of needing to get everything right, to be 'on' at every moment," he said.
Obama told People "there were times where I think she was frustrated or sad or angry but knew that I had Afghanistan or the financial crisis to worry about, so she would tamp it down."
Leaving office "was like a big exhale," he said.
"It took some time to talk about how she had felt," he told the magazine. "Once [the presidency] was done, there was possibility of her opening up ... but more importantly just her being able to let out a breath and relax."
He said his wife now "has been more relaxed and more joyful since we left office. That allowed us to just enjoy the deep love that comes with a marriage this long. But also to be friends again."
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