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Inside Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter's 75-Year Marriage

Bettina Dizon
Jul 08, 2021
07:00 A.M.
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Former First Lady Rosalynn Carter fell in love with former President Jimmy Carter before meeting him. Their love story spans over seven decades and has since inspired many others. Previously, the couple revealed exciting details of their life together.

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Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter are the longest-living presidential couple in American history with their 75 years of marriage. Through all the ups and downs that came, including the COVID-19 pandemic, their bond only grew stronger.

From being hometown sweethearts, the couple withstood the test of time and made it to the highest office in the land when Jimmy became the 39th president of the United States. They have since shared their story with many and revealed the secrets to a long-lasting marriage.

A side-by-side photo of former President Jimmy Carter and Rosalynn Carter from years ago and recently. | Source: Getty Images

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LOVE AT FIRST SIGHT

Jimmy and Rosalynn came from a Georgia town with only 600 people. She was the best friend of his younger sister, Ruth Carter, and immediately fell in love with Jimmy after seeing his photos in his home. In the book “What Makes a Marriage last,” Rosalynn recalled:

“I first started noticing him when I was thirteen, and I mean, there’s just no relationship between a thirteen-year-old and a sixteen-year-old in that situation.”

He was her first and only love, so when Rosalynn turned 18, she decided to pursue Jimmy. She planned to admit her feelings when he returned to Georgia for a break from the Annapolis Naval Academy.

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As luck would have it, Jimmy found himself alone without a date. His then-girlfriend was in a family reunion where he was not allowed. Jimmy was tagging along with Ruth and her boyfriend, looking for a date, when he saw Rosalynn in front of a Methodist Church and invited her to the movies.

Mrs. Carter shared their pursuits of fly fishing and bird watching. The two have since also dedicated their lives to their Nobel Peace Prize-winning humanitarian work.

Jimmy didn’t deny an instant attraction and connection between them. So before their first date ended, the two shared a sweet kiss, which he vividly still remembers. The following morning, Jimmy told his mother that Rosalynn was the woman he wanted to spend the rest of his life with.

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STARTING A FAMILY

Their courtship continued until winter when Jimmy proposed. Rosalynn, concerned that their relationship escalated quickly, said no. But with Jimmy’s persistence, they became engaged. On July 7, 1946, Jimmy and Rosalynn tied the knot at a Methodist Church in Georgia.

They later welcomed four children, sons Jack, Chip, Jeff, and daughter Amy. Because of his job, their family moved from Virginia to Hawaii to Pennsylvania to Connecticut until eventually settling in New York.

Like other couples, their marriage did not go without challenges. When Jimmy’s father passed away in 1953, they returned home and ran the family business. Rosalynn was unhappy, and communication between them only worsened things.

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Rosalynn would later reveal that the period was one of the rockiest parts of their marriage. Eventually, she found her footing when she helped her husband run their peanut farm.

In 1962, Jimmy won a seat in the Georgia State Senate and slowly made his way to higher rankings. Meanwhile, his wife rallied behind him and campaigned for her husband until winning different positions. When he finally took the highest seat possible, Rosalynn became a close advisor.

She made history as the first presidential wife to have her own office in the East Wing. She was present during Cabinet meetings and advised staff on presidential-related matters.

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Jimmy Carter and wife Rosalyn at the Sotheby's Auction in New York City, NY, October 4, 1983 | Photo: Getty Images

CELEBRATING 75 YEARS

Last year, the couple celebrated their 75th anniversary with 300 of their closest friends and family, including Trisha Yearwood and Garth Brooks. As a gift to Jimmy and Rosalynn, the two guests presented a classic 1946 convertible. According to Jill Stuckey, a close friend, the Carters reacted with:

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“Bright eyes and big smiles, and a very exciting time, and it was so special because of the people that were here from all aspects of their lives.”

The gift is a tribute to Jimmy and Rosalynn’s wedding from a couple who also shares a long-lasting marriage of over a decade.

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THANKSGIVING AT THE CARTER HOME

Since the presidency, Mr. and Mrs. Carter were never new to enjoying mass gatherings. From Turkey pardoning ceremonies in the White House to anniversary celebrations, the Carters would be graced by the presence of countless guests.

Nevertheless, the grandparents of a dozen, too, find joy in peaceful occasions. In 2021, as opposed to their usual grand get-togethers, the presidential couple chose to keep things intimate for Thanksgiving, as they spent their day in their Georgia home.

In the years post-politics, the Carters continue to find new ways to enjoy life together. In an interview with People, Mrs. Carter shared their pursuits of fly fishing and bird watching. The two have since also dedicated their lives to their Nobel Peace Prize-winning humanitarian work.

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WELCOMING 2022

In a photo shared by 11Alive Anchor Jeff Hullinger, the Carters were seen to be in their highest spirits as they ushered in the year 2022. The couple smiled for a photo as the former POTUS sported green 2022-themed eyewear, covered in glitters.

Indeed, love was in the air as the longest couple in presidential history was captured in a sweet moment last new year’s eve. The image showed Mrs. Carter about to get off their vehicle while her husband leaned forward to kiss her on the lips.

The previous year was definitely remarkable as Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter turned 97 and 94, respectively. It was also the year that current President Joe Biden visited the couple in their hometown amidst their step back from the public eye due to the pandemic.

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