They are the longest-married presidential couple, having surpassed the record set by former President George H. W. Bush and Barbara Bush of 73 years and 111 days.
Former President Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter are celebrating 76 years of marriage. The pair tied the knot on July 7, 1946. Looking back at his wedding, Jimmy Carter says, "That's the pinnacle of my life." The former president has always maintained that finding Rosalynn was the best thing that happened to him. They are the longest-married presidential couple, having surpassed the record of 73 years and 111 days set by former President George H. W. Bush and Barbara Bush. Jimmy Carter credits his marriage for his long and healthy life. "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. One of the things Jesus taught was: If you have any talents, try to utilize them for the benefit of others,” Carter told PEOPLE. Carter is 96 while Rosalynn is 93. President Carter is also the oldest living president in American history.
Rosalynn Carter gave birth to their first child together, Jack, a year after their wedding. They went on to have three more children: sons Chip and Jeff and, after a 14-year gap, daughter Amy. Jimmy Carter says he knew Rosalynn was "the one" straight away. "I just felt compatible with her," said Carter. "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 also didn't waste any time and informed his mother that "Rosalynn was the one I wanted to marry."
Jimmy Carter also revealed that his wife played an instrumental role in his elections. “When she joined me in political campaigning — always appearing without me — she was effective in securing support from doubtful voters, and I soon realized that people were more inclined to express their beliefs or concerns to her than to me. … [S]he liked the entire political process more than I did,” he wrote in his autobiography "A Full Life: Reflections At Ninety," reported The Daily Caller. Carter called Rosalynn his "secret weapon" during his presidential campaign in the '70s. "Jimmy has always thought I could do anything. Always. And so I’ve done everything," said the former first lady in "What Makes a Marriage Last." "I campaigned all over the country. I've done things I never dreamed I could do."
The former president said a key success to their marriage was to find their own space within the relationship. "We've survived this long together because first of all, we give each other plenty of space to do our own thing," said Jimmy Carter, reported ABC News. Rosalynn Carter also added that they really like to do a lot of activities together. "We're always looking to do things or find things we can do together, like fly fishing and bird watching and just going out to the pond, catch a fish," said Rosalynn Carter. Their faith is another binding factor in their relationship claims Jimmy Carter, who added that the pair have read the Bible together every night. "We've done that for 60 years, probably," he said. "When I'm overseas and Rose is at home, we know we're reading the same biblical text, and even though we're separated physically, it makes us think about the same scripture and admonition from God, direction from God, before we go to sleep," he said. "So it helps a lot."
The couple have also spent many years helping build Habitat for Humanity houses in Nashville, Tennessee. They have worked on more than 4,000 homes spread across 36 years. Jimmy Carter was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2002 for "his decades of untiring effort to find peaceful solutions to international conflicts, to advance democracy and human rights, and to promote economic and social development." The former first lady is the chair of the Carter Center Mental Health Task Force and has been a mental health advocate for more than 45 years.
The couple have spent much of the last two years at home because of the pandemic.