Former president Jimmy Carter, 95, and his wife Rosalynn Carter, 92, just celebrated their 74th wedding anniversary. With that, the couple just made history as the longest-married presidential couple in the United States. The love life for every married couple begins with respect and their relationship is a testament to that.
They officially bagged the title in October after beating the previous record held by former President George H.W. Bush and former first lady Barbara Bush, who were married for 73 years and 111 days when Barbara passed away in April 2018.
The Carters married on July 7, 1946, in a Methodist church in Plains, Georgia, their hometown, after Jimmy Carter graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy. At the time, Carter and Rosalynn were 21 and 18, respectively. At 26,765 days, the couple is enjoying a blissful married life. Equally beautiful is the beginning of their love story, as they have known each other their whole lives – Carter’s sister, Ruth, was Rosalynn’s best friend.
In Marlo Thomas and Phil Donahue’s book “What Makes a Marriage Last,” Carter revealed: “I’d known Rosalynn since the day she was born, because we were next-door neighbors.”
“I always said I fell in love with a photograph of him on (Ruth’s) bedroom wall,” Rosalynn admitted.
Carter said he “just felt compatible” with Rosalynn.
“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,” he said.
The following morning, Jimmy Carter told his mom he’d found the woman he wants to spend the rest of his life with.
“I never was doubtful about her, and that Christmas, I told her I loved her and asked her to marry me,” Carter said.
Rosalynn gave birth to their first child, Jack, by their first anniversary. Next came sons Chip and Jeff and, after a 14-year gap, daughter Amy. Rosalynn said that her husband has always been her constant source of support throughout their married life. Because of their partnership, she dared to do things she wouldn’t have if Carter weren’t there.
“Jimmy has always thought I could do anything. Always. And so I’ve done everything,” the former first lady said in the book. “I campaigned all over the country. I’ve done things I never dreamed I could do.”
The couple experienced a scary time in their marriage when Carter was diagnosed with cancer in 2015. Luckily, a few months after undergoing surgery and innovative immuno-therapeutic treatments, the cancer was gone. However, Carter credits his long life not to medical science, but to his loving spouse.
“It’s hard to live until you’re 95 years old,” he told PEOPLE. “I think the best explanation for that is to marry the best spouse: someone who will take care of you and engage and do things to challenge you and keep you alive and interested in life.”
Their faith also helped Carter and Rosalynn sustain their marriage.
“We read the Bible together every night,” Carter said in the book. “And when I’m overseas, or when Rosalynn is traveling, we still read the same chapter, even though we might be five thousand miles apart. We share the same text, and it keeps us connected.”
The love life for every married couple sometimes wanes through the years, but the couple has been together for over seven decades, and they share four children, 12 grandchildren, and 14 great-grandchildren. Over 70 years of memories and shared hobbies—such as bird-watching, tennis, and skiing—have kept their bond stronger.
Now that they’re older, the Carters plan only one year in advance. They savor each private moment they have, such as birthdays, by staying at home and enjoying a quiet day all by themselves.
In a time of short relationships and divorces, they proved that theirs is a love to last. Happy 74th wedding anniversary, Jimmy Carter and Rosalynn Carter!