The Obamas in the White House green room
Photo: Rob Howard
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O: What was the defining moment, when there were so many people around you saying, "Perhaps we shouldn't go for it"?

BO: I had so much confidence in the Navy SEALs who were carrying out the operation that I knew they could get in and get out. There might have been a huge political cost if bin Laden wasn't there, but once I felt confident that they could get in and get out safely, then it was an easier decision to say, "Go."

O: Does that decision come from within?

BO: It comes from within, but it also reflects the growing familiarity and the incredible appreciation I have for our military. One of the great things about being commander in chief is getting to know our men and women in uniform in a very intimate way, whether it's visiting Walter Reed and seeing our wounded soldiers, or being on a base and talking to families, or interacting with them on missions. They're the best of the best: always thinking about the mission, not thinking about credit, not thinking about who's up front. There's a culture we've built in our military that I think the country as a whole would benefit from.

O: [To Michelle] How does being married to the president of the United States change the nature of your marriage?

MO: I don't, as my mom would say, sweat the small stuff in our relationship. Because when I think of day-to-day irritations that you might have with the one you love, they're nothing compared to the bigger task at hand. We get along better because every interaction is important—because we just never know when things are going to get busy. I never know what he's dealing with on any given day until after we've had the conversation.

O: He doesn't tell you everything?

MO: No, and I don't want to know everything, frankly. I think he can handle the stress, thank goodness, but in order for me to focus on our kids and to serve in my role, a lot of times I don't need to get into the details.

O: So you find yourself holding back because of the stress he's under?

MO: You know, the small stuff just isn't as important. I might start thinking that I want to talk to him about an issue I have with what he said the other day. But you know what, it's not really that important.

O: Are you stockpiling a list of issues you'd like to discuss in 2016? [All laugh.]

BO: That's gonna be bad.

O: In 2016...

BO: As we're flying off out of D.C....

O: Yes. "Here's my list, honey."

BO: "I have some scrolls...."

O: "Let's see, in February 2014..."

BO: "I gave you a break then, but now..." No, hopefully not.

Next: What Obama says is his greatest achievement in office

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