The former first lady talks openly about the hard times of her marriage to Barack Obama – in an exclusive interview with PEOPLE – and what comes after they have worked through the rocky period in their relationship, celebrating their 30th anniversary.

The couple says they have to be honest about the difficulties of their relationship, including the times they went to marriage counseling.

Unlike their parents who didn’t talk about marital challenges, Barack and Michelle Obama feel it’s important for them to be “role models of the hard times” for the young couples who struggle.

When talking about such troubled times when she “couldn’t stand” her husband Michelle Obama says they had a great 20 years together despite struggling for about a decade. The former first lady dispels the myth of an ideal-looking marriage: “We have to understand that marriage is never 50/50.” Like any marriage, even one like the Obamas, marriage comes with lots of adjustments, compromises, and sacrifices.

Since leaving the White House, Barack and Michelle Obama are rediscovering each other and their romance, enjoying the “just us” moments they rarely shared as president and first lady.