(THE AUSTRALIAN) — A leading American divorce mediator will visit Washington this week to offer members of Congress advice on ending the “tiresome bickering” between Republicans and Democrats.

If US tabloids are to be believed, she may need to visit the White House first.

Michelle Obama’s extended absence from Washington and a flurry of renewed speculation about the state of the first couple’s marriage are threatening to overshadow her 50th birthday party at the White House on Saturday.

Not for the first time in their 22-year marriage the Obamas are approaching what should be a happy family milestone under a cloud of rampant tabloid innuendo, summed up by a National Enquirer headline: “World exclusive: Obama marriage explodes!”

Any truth to rumors the Obamas' marriage is in trouble?

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