It’s easy to miss news with today’s busy news cycle but some things are worth reminding. Especially given all the horrific news of death, unemployment, and civil unrest recently, when there is good news, we should point them out.
One such example was the recent 74th anniversary of Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter’s marriage on July 7. They are now officially the longest-married presidential couple in the history of the U.S. having surpassed George H.W. Bush and Barbara Bush last October, which ended after 73 years and 111 days when Barbara Bush passed away in April 2018.
Nevertheless, both couples’ long marriages are examples of long, committed, and loving married life.
Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter were married on July 7, 1946, in a Methodist church in their hometown of Plains, Georgia. Jimmy Carter had just graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy at the time and he and Rosalynn were 21 and 18 years old at the time. Ever since then, they seem to have enjoyed an eventful and happy marriage. Could their secret be that they knew each other as kids?
As Jimmy Carter shares in Marlo Thomas and Phil Donahue’s book “What Makes a Marriage Last”:
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 added.
As Carter said it, 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 added.
The very next morning he told his mother he had found the woman he wanted 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.
Together, the couple has had 4 children, 12 grandchildren, and – so far – 14 great-grandchildren. And in addition to that, they also share countless memories and experiences.
“Jimmy has always thought I could do anything. Always. And so I’ve done everything,” Rosalynn shared in What Makes a Marriage Last. “I campaigned all over the country. I’ve done things I never dreamed I could do.”
They’ve had their fair share of disappointments and even terrifying moments too.
Carter suffered a devastating loss in his re-election campaign in 1980 against future president Ronald Reagan in what will be remembered as one the most definitive losses in a presidential race. Even though today he is remembered warmly by most Americans, especially those leaning left, at the time Carter faced a very tough re-election with the right coalescing behind Reagan while centrist John B. Anderson and democrat Ted Kennedy divided the left vote and spoiled Carter’s bid for the re-election.
In their personal life, Jimmy and Rosalynn also faced some scary moments, namely the president’s battle with cancer in 2015. Luckily, thanks to an expedient surgery and several months of innovative immune-therapeutic treatments, he pulled through.
Carter also credits his wife for his longevity, however.
“It’s hard to live until you’re 95 years old,” he said in an interview with People magazine. “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 also cited their shared faith as a part of their long-lasting and happy married life.
“We read the Bible together every night,” Carter said in What Makes a Marriage Last. “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.”
Their love, their faith, as well as their shared hobbies seem to all be cornerstones of their happiness. The two loved playing tennis together, going skiing, and even bird-watching. Now, as their nearing a century each and three-quarters of a century together, Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter prefer to spend their time together at home, enjoying each other’s company.
Given the quickly deteriorating marriage statistics in the U.S. and Europe, couples like Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter remind us just how precious and special a long and successful marriage can be.