Former President Jimmy Carter and his wife, Rosalynn, have much to celebrate today as they look back on 75 years of marriage.
The Carters sealed the deal on this day, July 7, in 1946. In October of 2019, Jimmy, 96, and Rosalynn, 93 officially surpassed the late George H.W. Bush and his wife, Barbara, for the title of the longest-married presidential couple.
Long before they tied the knot, Rosalynn met her future husband after becoming friends with Jimmy’s younger sister. The two grew up just three miles away from each other. In 1945, the couple went on their first date. According to the former first lady, she called Jimmy “the most handsome young man I had ever seen.” However, it would take several proposals before Rosalyn would say yes to his marriage proposal.
Why Rosalynn Rejected Jimmy Carter’s First Proposal
Rosalynn rejected her future husband’s first proposal. She had promised her father that she would finish college before becoming a wife. Her father had passed away when she was 13-years-old. She would keep her promise to her late father, and she finally said yes after graduating from Georgia Southwestern College.
“We have grown closer to each other. We’ve learned from each other. And we have learned to accommodate each other’s idiosyncrasies,” Jimmy Carter said in an interview with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
Later, when doctors diagnosed Jimmy with cancer, he confessed to reporters that marrying Rosalynn was the “pinnacle” of his life. Jill Stuckey, a longtime friend of the family, told CNN that the former President trusted his longtime partner “above and beyond everybody else.”
“Rosalynn has always been that trusted adviser that is selfless. He knows for sure that she is looking out for others. And I don’t know if President Carter would have been President without Rosalynn,” Stuckey said.
Gerald Rafshoon, who worked as White House communications director under Carter, once recalled Rosalynn as her husband’s “best adviser.”
He added that she”isn’t afraid to tell him when he’s wrong, and when he’s right she would fight to the end to help him.”
The Carters’ Humanitarian Efforts
Additionally, the Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter Work Project and Habitat for Humanity have built, renovated, or repaired more than 4,300 homes across 14 countries.
When asked what the secret to marriage, Jimmy Carter answered with, “First of all, it’s best to choose the right woman, which I did. And secondly, we give each other space to do our own things.”
“We try to be reconciled before we go to sleep at night, and try to find everything we can think of that we like to do together. So we have a lot of good times.”