Together for 73 Years, Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter Are the Longest-Married US Presidential Couple | Their Love Story Started at 17

Together for 73 Years, Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter Are the Longest-Married US Presidential Couple | Their Love Story Started at 17

The couple met in smalltown Georgia when they were still in their teens and have been together ever since.

President Jimmy Carter and First Lady Rosalynn Carter have been together almost all their life. They iconic duo have come to be known as the longest-married presidential couple, having been together for 73 years and counting. The even beat previous record-holders the late George H.W. Bush and Barbara Bush to it.

The bond the nonagenarians forged in the 1940s has seen them through more than seven decades of marriage. Coming from smalltown Georgia, where only 600 people lived, to becoming the first family of America, the couple's commitment to each other has seen them through many phases of life. However, their story could have been completely different, because of a promise the former first lady had made to her dying father when she was a teenager.

But their love proved to be stronger than that, and more importantly, a young and dashing Jimmy Carter was persistent.


Rosalynn Smith, as was her maiden name, grew up just three miles away from her future husband. She was best friends with Carter's younger sister. "I thought he was the most handsome young man I had ever seen," she wrote in her memoir, First Lady from Plains, according to CNN. She saw a photo of him in his military uniform, while he took note of her when he had gone home in the summer of 1945.

The former first lady was a freshman at nearby Georgia Southwestern College. Rosalynn Smith had been supporting her family, working since the tender age of 13, after her father passed away, according to Biography.com. Jimmy Carter laid eyes on his sister's shy 17-year-old friend one night when his plans with another woman didn't pan out. He saw his sister with Rosalynn, and decided to ask her out on an impulse.

The young couple shared their first kiss, but little did they know then that it was the start of a love story that would pan seven decades. He knew that she was the one and told his mother about it, too.


However, despite the mutual attraction they felt for each other, Rosalynn turned down Carter's marriage proposal when he asked in the winter and went back to college. She had promised her dying father that she would finish college first. However, she couldn't resist his charm and the young couple married when Rosalynn was 18 and Jimmy Carter was then a young 21-year-old, a fresh graduate from US Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland.


She visited Annapolis in the spring, where eventually they got engaged. Her then-future husband gifted her a compact engraved with the letters "ILYTG," an acronym for a Carter family saying, "I love you the goodest." They married at the Plains Methodist Church on July 7, 1946, barely a few weeks after the former president graduated.


The couple left rural Georgia to conquer the country together. They remained steadfast through the birth of their four children, his presidentship -- during which she was an equal partner beside him. Rosalynn Carter became quite involved in campaigning for her husband and oversaw many administrative decisions, getting her own office in the East Wing and sitting in on Cabinet meetings.


What is the reason for the longevity of their marriage? They chose to stay together and work hand-in-hand. They have continued to work towards their causes, which includes raising awareness on mental health, and just like any couple have had their share of problems through the years. In 2012, when they started working on a book together, they called it a terrible experience.

"It's the worst problem we've ever had since we've been married," Jimmy Carter jokingly told CNN at the time. "It would be like God had given her this text at Mt. Sinai and she had brought it down and presented it to me in stone." While Rosalynn Carter told the news outlet it was "a terrible experience."

But despite the ups and downs they faced in their relationship, the one thing that hasn't changed in the couple stood by each other's side through it all.


That doesn't make them less devoted to each other. In 2015, when the patriarch had a cancer scare, she was right by his side.

"I have had a wonderful life," Carter said during a press conference at the age of 90. "I'm ready for anything and I'm looking forward to new adventure," he added. "The best thing I ever did was marrying Rosalynn," Carter said. "That's a pinnacle in my life. We've had 69 years together, still together," Carter added.

Their romance is still alive and their love story will be one that will be told long after they are gone.





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