Today, almost eight decades later, Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter are still together, proving to the world that everlasting love does exist.
When a young Jimmy Carter returned from the U.S. Naval Academy, he was in need of a date one evening. So his sister set him up with a family friend who had a crush on him. Yes, it was Rosalynn Carter. Today, almost eight decades later, they are still together, proving to the world that everlasting love does exist. "It’s a full partnership," said the 39th president, describing his nearly 75-year-old marriage with his beloved wife, according to the Associated Press.
On July 7, the Carters will not only celebrate their 75th wedding anniversary but also achieve another milestone for being the longest-married presidential couple in American history. Carter, who has lived the longest of any US president, fell for Rosalynn almost immediately after their first date. According to PEOPLE, the day after their date, Carter told his mom that he'd found the woman he wanted to spend the rest of his life with.
"I love her more now than I did to begin with — which is saying a lot, because I loved her a lot," Jimmy Carter said of his wife, Rosalynn, as the former first couple approaches their 75th wedding anniversary. https://t.co/ED61J1NtsK— The New York Times (@nytimes) July 4, 2021
"I just felt compatible with her,” the former president recalled in Phil Donahue and Marlo Thomas’ book What Makes a Marriage Last. "She was beautiful and innocent, and there was a resonance. We rode in the rumble seat of a Ford pickup—Ruth and her boyfriend in the front—and I kissed her on that first date. I remember that vividly." The 96-year-old has played many critical roles in his life, including serving as executive officer of a nuclear submarine during the Cold War, State Senator for Georgia, and President of the United States.
With these significant roles came many vital decisions but for Carter, the most important one has been the decision to marry his sweetheart. "My biggest secret is to marry the right person if you want to have a long-lasting marriage," said Carter, who tied the knot with an 18-year-old Rosalynn Smith on July 7, 1946. "Every day there needs to be reconciliation and communication between the two spouses," he said, adding that both read the Bible together every night, which is something they have been doing for years even when work kept them apart.
"First of all—choose the right person."— ABC News (@ABC) July 2, 2021
Former Pres. Jimmy Carter and first lady Rosalynn Carter tell @SteveOsunsami the secrets to their 75-year marriage.
“Love & Service: The Carter Story” premieres Monday, July 5, on @ABCNewsLive and @hulu. https://t.co/zQZ2w0qCm4 pic.twitter.com/l73CnY45F5
Another golden rule, "We don’t go to sleep with some remaining differences between us," he said. Rosalynn, too, pointed out how important it was for a pair to look for interests they have in common. "Jimmy and I are always looking for things to do together," she said. However, she remarked, "Each (person) should have some space. That’s really important."
During an interview with the New York Times, Carter expressed his love for his wife saying, "I know for my sake it’s been the best thing I’ve ever had happen to me — marrying Rosalynn and living together for so long, growing to know each other more and more intimately every day in married life." He added, "I’ve been very happy, and I love her more now than I did to begin with — which is saying a lot, because I loved her a lot."
The young midshipman needed a date one evening while he was home from the U.S. Naval Academy, so his younger sister paired him with a family friend. Nearly eight decades later, Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter are still together in the same tiny town where th... https://t.co/K4xzxbbkxV— The Seattle Times (@seattletimes) July 5, 2021
But the road to this successful marriage hasn't been an easy one and the couple acknowledged that. Carter was all set to be an admiral when his father, James Earl Carter Sr., passed away in 1953. Thus, he returned to rural Georgia with his family after saying goodbye to his Navy career. Although Rosalynn was unhappy with the move, things became better as she chartered a new course in life when her husband joined politics. "We developed a partnership when we were working in the farm supply business, and it continued when Jimmy got involved in politics," Rosalynn told the Associated Press.
"I knew more on paper about the business than he did. He would take my advice about things," she added. While Carter would always discuss life-alternating decisions with his wife, he did not do so when he decided to run for office for the first time. But this time around, she was all in for it anyway. "My wife is much more political," said Carter as his 93-year-old partner added, "I love it. I love campaigning. I had the best time. I was in all the states in the United States. I campaigned solid every day the last time we ran."
Inseparable - On their 75th anniversary, Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter celebrate a record-setting love story back where it all started. https://t.co/X6zGBAEC1i— Ag Science Writer (@agsciencewriter) July 4, 2021
Even though she gave up the opportunity to get a college education when she decided to marry Carter at 18, she carved her own identity eventually. Rosalynn did not disappoint as a first lady as she went on to work on key legislations alongside her husband's West Wing aides, especially those that dealt with mental health care.
Through the Rosalynn Carter Georgia Mental Health Forum which was established in 1995, the former first lady had been addressing several issues pertaining to mental health policy issues. Per WSBTV, Rosalynn also received a special award for her dedicated efforts to improving mental health issues across the globe. "I have worked on mental health for 47 years, and I plan to make it to 50," she said. Years after leaving the White House, the pair built the Carter Center to focus on more such problems.
Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter will celebrate their 75th wedding anniversary this week: "It's a full partnership." https://t.co/x285Q61GYU— Star Tribune (@StarTribune) July 4, 2021
With their wedding anniversary right around the corner, the Carters plan to celebrate the milestone a few days after July 7 with a party in their hometown of Plains. The residents of Sumter County also shared that they have some mixed feelings about being in the spotlight. "We have too many people invited," revealed Rosalynn with a laugh. "I’m actually praying for some turndowns and regrets."
Cover image source: Getty | Photo by Mark Wilson