Leadership

Barack Obama: Ask these 3 questions to see if your partner is 'the one'

Saul Loeb | Getty Images

Research shows that marrying the right person, and especially someone who is supportive of your career, has the power to significantly boost your happiness, psychological well-being and both personal and professional growth.

Former President Barack Obama agrees to the point where he offered advice to help staffers with their love lives, Senior Advisor Dan Pfeiffer recalls in his new book “Yes We (Still) Can.” On Pfeiffer’s last day in 2015, he joined the president aboard Air Force One for one final trip. The two chatted about Pfeiffer’s post-White House plans to travel and move in with his then-girlfriend Howli Ledbetter.

“So are you guys moving together? This is the one, huh?” Obama asked. When Pfeiffer said yes, the president gave him some tips and, to this day, Pfeiffer tells CNBC Make It, Obama’s advice serves as “a reminder of what is important in a relationship and the things you should never take for granted.”

“It was nice to hear him reinforce something I already felt and I feel very lucky that she decided to marry me,” Pfeiffer adds.

The president told Pfeiffer that “the advice I give everyone about marriage" is to ask yourself these three questions about your potential spouse.

Are they interesting?

"Is she someone you find interesting?” Pfeiffer recalls the president asked him. That matters because “you will spend more time with this person than anyone else for the rest of your life, and there is nothing more important than always wanting to hear what she has to say about things.”

Are they funny?

Obama, who was once dubbed the nation's "comedian-in-chief," reminded Pfeiffer that it's important to share a sense of humor with your significant other. “Does she make you laugh?” Obama asked.

Will they be a good parent?

Thinking years ahead, Obama asked whether Pfeiffer saw a future parenting with his Ledbetter. “I don't know if you want kids, but if you do, do you think she will be a good mom?" Obama said.

"Life is long," the president added. "These are the things that really matter over the long term.”

Obama frequently credits his wife Michelle for his success not only in politics, but in life. During his final address in January of 2017, Obama directed a message to her: “Michelle LaVaughn Robinson of the South Side, for the past 25 years you have not only been my wife and mother of my children, you have been my best friend,” he said. “You made the White House a place that belongs to everybody.”

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Getty Images | AFP | Chip Somodevilla

Pfeiffer notes that, in 2016, he went to four different weddings of people who met while working for Obama, one of which was his own. “Obama was always very proud of the hundreds of relationships that had sprung from his campaigns and his administration,” Pfeiffer writes.

In that conversation with the president, Pfeiffer told Obama, “Howli is incredibly interesting and funnier than I am, and will be a phenomenal mom.”

“Sounds like she’s the one. Lucky you,” Obama responded. Pfeiffer and Ledbetter got married a year later.

In addition to the Obamas, other hugely successful people such as Warren Buffett, Sheryl Sandberg and Mark Zuckerberg have also noted how powerful a good marriage can be.

“I can only speak for myself: My wife makes me a better person in life and in my work,” Pfeiffer tells CNBC Make It. “I like to think we learned by osmosis from being [around Barack and Michelle] for so many years.”

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