Secrets shared by Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter on their nearly 8-decade marriage


a date because his then-girlfriend was at a family reunion, he recalled in "What Makes a Marriage Last."

Former president Jimmy Carter, center, and his wife Rosalyn, right, and their grand son Jason are tree planting during their parti... Show more Hyoung Chang/Denver Post via Getty Images, FILE

"I was cruising around with my sister, Ruth, and her boyfriend, just looking for a date, and I picked up Rosalynn in front of the Methodist church," he recalled. "I just felt compatible with her. 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."

The couple married on July 7, 1946, and traveled the world while he was deployed to different bases, including Pearl Harbor, as a submarine officer.

1963-1981: Life in politics

After leaving the Navy in 1953, Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter returned to Plains, where he took over his family's peanut-growing farm while also serving in the Navy Reserve for several years. He became active in the local Democratic Party, opposing racial segregation and supporting the emerging Civil Rights movement.

In 1963, with his wife at his side, Jimmy Carter was elected to the Georgia State Senate and in 1970, he campaigned for governor of Georgia and won. During their time in the governor's mansion, Rosalynn Carter focused on issues of mental health, serving on the Governor's Commission to Improve Services for the Mentally and Emotionally Handicapped. She also became her husband's chief advisor in running the state.

Rosalynn Carter expanded that role in 1975 when her husband ran as a dark horse candidate for U.S. president, helping him defeat incumbent President Gerald Ford.

During his presidency, Jimmy Carter openly called his wife his "secret weapon" and frequently requested she sit in on cabinet meetings and even some national security briefings. He credited her as being his confidant during the Camp David Accords and the Iranian hostage crisis.

1981-present: Life after the White House

After his resounding defeat to Ronald Reagan in 1980, Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter returned to Plains. Instead of resting on their laurels, they threw themselves into humanitarian work, joining forces with Habitat for Humanity, a nonprofit group founded in 1976 by a Christian couple named Millard and Linda Fuller, with the stated mission of "seeking to put God's love into action" by building homes for people in need.

"Habitat provides a simple but powerful avenue for people of different backgrounds to come together to achieve those most meaningful things in life. A decent home, yes, but also a genuine bond with our fellow human beings. A bond that comes with the building up of walls and the breaking down of barriers," Jimmy Carter once said.

About 300 volunteers, including former President Jimmy Carter, and wife, Rosalynn, worked on houses in Baltimore, Marylan... Show more Baltimore Sun/Tribune News Service via Getty Images, FILE

In addition to building houses for the disadvantaged around the world, the Carters also shared a mutual love for bird-watching and fly-fishing, even building a fly-fishing pond on their Georgia property.

In the 2021 interview with ABC News, the Carters were asked how they stayed happily married for so many years. Jimmy Carter attributed the longevity of their union to working on projects and hobbies they are both interested in and giving each other space to pursue individual interests.

"We've always gone deeper in our love for one another," Jimmy Carter told ABC News in 2021.

He also revealed in the interview that he and his wife argued like most couples, but decided long ago never to go to bed angry with each other.

"Every night we try to make sure that we are completely reconciled from all the arguments during the day when we go to bed," he said.

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