Right after the very first date, he recalled, "Mother asked if I liked her, and I was already sure of my answer when I replied, 'She's the girl I want to marry.'"
To spend more than seven decades with your husband or wife, growing more and more in love, is truly something special. Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter recently celebrated the 73rd anniversary of their wedding on July 7, making them the second longest-married presidential couple. The longest-married presidential couple being George H. W. Bush and his wife, Barbara of 73 years and 111 days, at the time of the former first lady’s death in 2018.
They were just 21 and 18 when they exchanged wedding vows, and now, Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter are 94 and 91, with a wonderful love story to look back upon.
ICYMI yesterday was Jimmy & Rosalynn Carter's 73rd anniversary! He was 21, she 18, when they were married in Plains on 7/7/46. DYK she rejected his 1st proposal? “She promised her father, on his deathbed, to finish college & would not marry until then.” (A Full Life, p. 38) pic.twitter.com/7QSv8OqgJi— Jimmy Carter Library (@CarterLibrary) July 8, 2019
"Jimmy and I grew up three years and three miles apart," Rosalynn Carter wrote in her memoir First Lady from Plains, according to PBS. She was friends with Jimmy Carter's younger sister, Ruth and recalled, "I couldn't keep my eyes off the photograph of her idolized, older brother pinned up on her bedroom wall. I thought he was the most handsome young man I had ever seen."
While Jimmy Carter never paid much attention to Rosalynn Carter before, one day he spontaneously asked her if she wanted to go to the movies with him. And it took him just one date to realize that he'd found the one for him. Once he was back home from the date, he remembers the conversation he had with his mother. "Mother asked if I liked her, and I was already sure of my answer when I replied, 'She's the girl I want to marry,'" he said.
But Rosalynn Carter wasn't ready to get married just yet and rejected his first proposal. Before her father passed away when she was just 13, she made him a promise on his deathbed that she would only get married after she finished college. They continued to write each other intimate letters and Jimmy Carter waited patiently and persevered until she said yes when he asked her for the second time. “I kept trying, and finally, she said okay,” he said, according to HuffPost.
When he proposed, he gave her a compact that had 'ILYTG' engraved on it. “‘I love you the goodest.’ That’s what my mother and daddy used to say back and forth, and I picked it up with Rosa,” Jimmy Carter told People. It's become an affectionate acronym that's even been passed on to their children and grandchildren. “Now all our children do the same thing – ILYTG on the phone or in emails. They generally just put the initials.” He added, “And sometimes they change the initials and make you guess what they’re talking about.”
By July of 1946, Eleanor Rosalynn Smith became Rosalynn Carter and stayed that way for the rest of their lives. He said, "The best thing I ever did was marrying Rosa. That's the pinnacle of my life," as reported by Good Housekeeping.
They have seen a lot together and they have been through a lot together. But through the ups and downs, their love for each other never changed. Even after being married for 70 years, Jimmy Carter still blushes when he talks about his wife.
“I knew that she was quiet, she was extremely intelligent... beautiful,” he said in an interview with Oprah. “There was just something about her that was irresistible.” And as he gushed with glee over his wife, Oprah said, “You’re blushing!” and he answered, “I can’t help it!”
They have crossed a number of milestones together, from living in the White House to other humanitarian works. But the one thing everyone stops to praise is their longlasting marriage. “It always gets applause when I mention it publicly,” Jimmy Carter told AJC. "That’s the surest applause that we get."
To be able to stick by through it all is truly a success and they agree too, as Rosalynn Carter said, “It’s quite an accomplishment, I think.”