Jimmy Carter has celebrated many milestones and awe-inspiring achievements throughout his long life, now he can add the longest-married presidential couple to the list.
The former U.S. president has been married to his wife Rosalynn Carter for 76 years.
Together, they have 4 children, 12 grandchildren and 13 great-grandchildren.
Jimmy Carter was born in 1924 and was raised by his businessman father and nurse mother in and around Plains, Georgia.
Back in the mid-1920s, about 600 people lived in the small town. One of those people was Rosalynn Smith.
Jimmy and Rosalynn’s love story would go down in history, and their journey began over 90 years ago. In fact, Jimmy Carter can still recall the day his wife was born. He was only three years old and his family lived next door to Rosalynn’s.
Since Jimmy’s mother was a nurse, she helped deliver Rosalynn on August 18, 1927. One day after Rosalynn was born, Jimmy’s mother brought him to see the newborn baby.
Little did anyone know that the two would get married.
In an interview with Washington Post, Rosalynn revealed that Jimmy “looked through the cradle bars and saw [her].”
As Rosalynn got older and became friends with the neighborhood kids, she became friendly with Ruth Carter, Jimmy’s sister.
When the Georgia couple married Jimmy was 21 years old and Rosalynn Smith was 18.
Jimmy, who recently celebrated his 97th birthday, exchanged their vows on July 7, 1946, in their hometown of Plains, Georgia, where the two nonagenarians still live.
When the couple met, Jimmy was on break from the Naval Academy and was introduced to Rosalynn as a friend of his sister’s. Jimmy said he immediately felt compatible with Rosalynn and asked her on a date to see a movie.
Rosalynn was also thrilled, she thought Jimmy was so handsome after seeing a picture of him in his Annapolis uniform.
She remembered Ruth kept a photo of her brother on her bedroom wall, and Rosalynn “fell in love with that picture.”
“Mother always said I married him because of his uniform,” she said.
Jimmy said they rode in the rumble seat of a Ford pickup and that he kissed Rosalynn on that first date. He still remembers that moment clearly, he said.
“She was beautiful and innocent, and there was a resonance,” he told People.
After their first date, Jimmy was convinced that he had met the right one, which he also told his own mother straight away.
”I knew that she was quiet, she was extremely intelligent … beautiful,” Jimmy told Oprah There was just something about her that was irresistible.”
The beginning of their marriage found them moving around the country as Jimmy was assigned deployments in either the Atlantic or Pacific fleets. And while one may think the spouse of someone in the United States Navy may not like the constant moving, Rosalynn didn’t mind at all.
“I had been self-sufficient and independent from my mother and Jimmy’s mother,” she told The New York Times.
So when Jimmy told her he was giving up his career in the Navy so they could grow their family in Plains, Georgia, she was annoyed.
It was a move – making tough family decisions – Jimmy said he regretted.
But their disagreements never lasted long.
But in November 1976, the couple made headlines just before Jimmy Carter was elected the 39th President of the United States. The reason?
Jimmy did an odd interview with Playboy magazine where he opened up about religion, the Bible, and adultery.
Above all, one quote came to haunt him, and in hindsight, the Playboy magazine interview was possibly not the best call of Jimmy’s career.
Speaking about religion, Jimmy said:
““I’ve looked on a lot of women with lust. I’ve committed adultery in my heart many times. This is something that God recognizes that I will do–and I have done it–and God forgives me for it. But that doesn’t mean that I condemn someone who not only looks on a woman with lust but who leaves his wife and shacks up with somebody out of wedlock. Christ says, don’t consider yourself better than someone else because one guy screws a whole bunch of women while the other guy is loyal to his wife.”
Jimmy would later call the interview “one of the best-known events in U.S. political history” – but it nearly cost him the election as his words on adultery and lust dominated the news for weeks.
It was a difficult time for Jimmy and his wife, but he never addressed it. It would take 20 years before Jimmy returned to November 1976 and commented on the famous quote in his book, “Living Faith.”
The reporter, Robert Scheer, had “surreptitiously restarted the tape recorder as we stood at the door.” Then-Playboy editor Barry Golson was also present during the interview.
”As Carter began his closing monologue, Golson said to him, as heard clearly on the tape, “I’m taking mental notes if you don’t mind.” At which point I said, waving a large microphone, “I’m taking real notes,” and Carter laughed and said, “good,” well before the infamous lust remarks were uttered. Fortunately, I still have those tapes and was able to verify the accuracy of my memory,” Robert Scheer wrote in 1996.
In 2012, Jimmy joked that the couple’s worst decision they ever made was when they wrote a book together.
“It’s the worst problem we’ve ever had since we’ve been married,” Jimmy joked to Piers Morgan.
The 39th president credits his long life to his wife.
“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.”
The couple has four children together, three sons and a daughter, 14 years younger than their third son, who spent part of her youth in the White House.
While on the campaign trail leading up to his presidential election in 1977 he referred to Rosalynn as his “secret weapon.”
They also accept that disagreements are inevitable in marriage but according to the book “What Makes a Marriage Last” they give each other plenty of space to do the things they want to do.
“We give each other plenty of space to do our own things. And we try to find things we like to do together, and we try to concentrate on them,” Jimmy said.
What they do agree on is the need to help others and devote much of their time to support a number of different causes from mental health to human rights.
Jimmy whose awards include the United Nations Human Rights Prize and the Nobel Peace Prize, set up the The Carter Center with Rosalynn which funds a number of health and peace programs.
Despite being in their 90s this couple never stop giving and helping, they are such an inspiration.
Please share to wish them a Happy Anniversary!