Love stories are always good for the soul, and former president Jimmy Carter and his wife Rosalynn still give us all the feels. The Carters celebrated 76 years of marriage on July 7. That’s right, 76 whole years of matrimony, which is longer than some of our parents have even been alive.
Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter met in Georgia when the former president was on leave from the U.S. Naval Academy after his younger sister set them up on a date. The two married a year later in 1946 in Plains, Georgia. In 1953, Carter left the military after his father died.
Funnily enough, Rosalynn never thought she’d get married. During their 75th anniversary celebration she explained how she used to tell her mother to tell the boys who called that she wasn’t home in an effort to avoid going out with them. She recalled, “I didn’t know how to talk to them, I didn’t want to go out with them.” Thankfully something changed when it came to her now husband of 76 years. The pair are the longest married couple of all former and current presidents.
The couple, now both in their 90s, became involved in politics when Jimmy won a seat for the Georgia Senate in 1962, which eventually led him to being the peach state’s governor before heading to the White House in 1976. While her husband sat in the Oval Office, Rosalynn became an outspoken advocate for mental health. She helped the passage of the Mental Health Systems Act of 1980 while serving as honorary chair in the President’s Commission on Mental Health. The law helped focus on the mental health of minority populations and rights for mental health patients.
After Carter lost his re-election to Ronald Reagan in 1980, the couple continued their humanitarian efforts outside of the White House. They continue to work with Habitat for Humanity building houses in underserved communities, something they help with even to this day. In 1982, they started The Carter Center, which educates the public and furthers human rights initiatives.
Seeing the pair remain so active, especially watching them help build houses into their 90s, is always inspiring. Unfortunately, the pandemic sidelined some of their efforts, but the Carters were some of the first people to roll up their sleeves to get vaccinated against COVID-19 so as to get back to doing some of the things they love, one of which is being active in their local church.
During an interview with the AP in 2021, the former president said, “My biggest secret is to marry the right person if you want to have a long-lasting marriage.” In the same interview, Rosalynn commented, “Jimmy and I are always looking for things to do together,” then emphasized, “each should have some space. That’s really important.”
At this point, we can collectively agree that the Carters are an American treasure. Their long history in advocacy and humanitarian efforts are more than noteworthy. Here’s wishing them another fulfilling year of health, marriage and life.