Former U.S. President Jimmy Carter and his wife Rosalynn celebrate the 75th anniversary of their wedding today.
The Carters were married in 1946, one year after they met.
At the time, the future president was a student at the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland. He was home in Plains, Georgia for a visit when his sister set him up him with Eleanor Rosalynn Smith for a date.
Carter won the presidential vote in 1976 and served as the country’s 39th president for one term. He was defeated by Ronald Reagan in the 1980 election.
Carter is 96 years old and his wife is 93. At 96, Carter has lived the longest of any of America’s 45 presidents.
Carter has often said the greatest decision he ever made was asking Rosalynn to marry him. He said it does not compare to being commander-in-chief or being in charge of a nuclear submarine during his time in the Navy.
The Carters discussed what keeps them together after so many years.
“It’s a full partnership,” the former president said.
Every day, he said, the two make sure they communicate and fix any problems that come up before they go to bed. “We don’t go to sleep with some remaining differences between us.”
Jimmy and Rosalynn also keep a longtime tradition alive each day: reading the Bible out loud together each night, even if they are apart.
Even at their age, the two still try to find activities to do together. Rosalynn spoke about attempting to find common interests.
But at the same time, Rosalynn said they each need some time alone. “That’s really important,” she said.
Over 40 years ago, Rosalynn Carter established some of the traditions carried on by future First Ladies. She set up her own office in the White House. She worked on making laws for health care and mental health. She continued doing that work as the pair moved back into private life, working at the Carter Center in Atlanta, Georgia after Jimmy’s four years as president.
In recent years, some well-known American couples announced breakups. These include Amazon chief Jeff Bezos and his wife MacKenzie, as well as Microsoft founder Bill Gates and his wife Melinda. So it seems correct for the Carters to celebrate staying together so long.
The couple admitted, however, that they experienced some rough spots.
In 1953, when Carter was in his Navy career, his father died. He decided his family would move back to Georgia and start working in agriculture. However, he did not discuss this plan with his wife.
Thinking back on it, Carter said he made a mistake. His wife was not happy with the move.
Now, he said, he cannot imagine not discussing a major life change with his wife.
The couple said getting through that difficult time was important for their relationship. It turned out that Jimmy needed help from Rosalynn because she knew more about farming than he did.
“He would take my advice about things,” she said.
Later, Jimmy decided to get into politics without discussing the choice with Rosalynn. But, as it turned out, she was fine with that decision. “I had the best time,” she said, speaking about the campaign process.
In the years after their time in the White House, the Carters continued to work to support equal rights. The former president criticized the part of Christianity that he follows – Southern Baptism – during an event in 2006. He said the denomination was too “rigid” and prevented women from being equal partners in marriage.
The Carters also want the church to recognize same-sex marriage. He said “the church is evolving” on that issue.
The couple is having an anniversary party later this week in Plains.
Even after their years holding important dinners at the White House, they are still not completely at ease at big parties.
“We have too many people invited,” Rosalynn Carter said of the planned event.
I’m Dan Friedell.
Bill Barrow wrote this story for the Associated Press. Dan Friedell adapted it for Learning English. Bryan Lynn was the editor.
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Words in This Story
date – n. a romantic meeting when two people go out and do something together
denomination – n. a religious group that has slightly different beliefs from other groups that share the same religion
rigid – adj. not able to be changed easily
evolve – v. to develop over time