Carters Celebrate 77th Anniversary

A remarkable milestone.

AJC (“Marriage built to last: Jimmy, Rosalynn Carter mark 77th anniversary“):

Numbers don’t lie. Especially when they are so beautiful.

On Friday, July 7, or 7/7, Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter will reach their 77th wedding anniversary.

The Georgia couple, who famously served as president of the United States and first lady, will celebrate quietly.

“The family is keeping a low profile around the anniversary this year,” said Matthew De Galan, spokesman for the Carter Center. “President Carter and Mrs. Carter will celebrate their 77th wedding anniversary privately at their home in Plains tomorrow along with family members.”

On July 7, 1946, when a 21-year-old U.S. Naval Academy graduate married the 18-year-old salutatorian of Plains High School, who could have imagined that it could last that long? According to the U.S. Census Bureau, only 6% of married couples make it to even 50 years.

The Carters are the longest-married presidential couple in U.S. history, followed by former president George H.W. Bush and Barbara Bush, who were married for 73 years and 102 days until Barbara’s 2018 death.

To put the Carters in perspective, the Obamas, who wed in 1992, would have to stay married until 2069 to catch them.

The Carters have survived through a Georgia governorship, a presidency, a Nobel Peace Prize, building their Atlanta-based nonprofit Carter Center, eradicating diseases and now their biggest challenge — failing health.

Jimmy Carter, 98, went into home hospice care in February. In May, the family revealed that 95-year-old Rosalynn Carter has dementia.

While I seldom commemorate the wedding anniversaries of former politicians, or, well, anybody here, let alone one that’s not a multiple of ten or twenty-five, their longevity is simply remarkable. They’ve been married longer than either of my parents lived.

Jimmy Carter was elected President a few days shy of my 11th birthday. I’m now older than he was when he left office.

It is, sadly, highly unlikely that they’ll make it to their 78th anniversary. But what a hell of a run it’s been.

FILED UNDER: US Politics, , , , ,
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. Franklin says:

    Ever been to a wedding reception where they have a slow dance song and the DJ progressively asks everybody married less than X years to leave the dance floor? I can’t help but get a little verklempt when there are a happy couple or two still out there with 50+ years.

    I always hoped I would get there someday, but getting divorced in my late 40s made that highly unlikely.

    So I managed to make this about me, but seriously, congrats to the Carters. Couldn’t happen to nicer people!

  2. Kylopod says:

    I was born in DC the night of the day Carter was inaugurated–Jan. 20, 1977.

  3. Andy says:

    That is so rare and remarkable. Congratulations to them.

  4. Jen says:

    It is indeed remarkable, and thank you for sharing this–it’s nice to hear stories like this every once in a while. Keeps things in perspective.

  5. SC_Birdflyte says:

    @Kylopod: We were at one of the inaugural balls that night. It was the end of a very jam-packed day.

  6. Michael Reynolds says:

    I don’t have a lot of traditional beliefs, but I am generally reassured by people who make a marriage work. No one, certainly not me, would ever have bet on me as a husband. (Well, one person did.) But, it’s been 44 years as of a few days ago, two thirds of my life. The good two thirds.

    77 years is a hell of an accomplishment. What a life these two have had. Mazel tov to those two crazy kids.

  7. de stijl says:

    Hell of a run, indeed.

    I was 13 in 1975. Couldn’t vote, obviously.

    Carter is severely underappreciated. Competence means a lot to me in that role. He did well in trying times even when many were encouraging over-reaction. On OPEC, on inflation, on Iran. He was of the “slow and steady wins the race” type. I endorse that style.

    I remember 1979 clearly. Still couldn’t vote. I remember bombastic pseudo-patriotism for and about a movie actor. It’s telling that Reagan is third worst President in my semi-adult lifetime behind Trump and GW Bush.

    Objectively, Reagan was a piss-poor pseudo-President who dabbled in a bit of treason for domestic political gain, and then some addled dementia. But, hey, he was charismatic and strong! Unlike Carter. Fuck that!

    Carter gets a bum rap. He was a really great dude, and a really competent President.

    Competency, letting the government hum along quietly, is severely underappreciated. It’s as much of a skill and practice as making everything about you narcissistically. It’s the opposite. The consumate team guy. Carter did not fuck things up on purpose for personal political gain. That would be beneath him.

  8. de stijl says:

    That is an outstanding wedding photo! Seriously.

    It tells you so much in one tiny sliver of time.

    That is a pretty bad-ass wedding photo.

  9. inhumans99 says:

    An impressive run as a couple indeed. While my parents’ marriage has had their ups and downs, it continues to impress me that they have been married for at least 56 years and counting. I turn 52 this year, my older brother turns 55 and my parents were definitely married when my Mom first had kids.

    As I have recounted multiple times on this blog, my Dad met my Mom in the military while he was in Turkey, and my mother is Sicilian, so forget her father standing behind my dad for a shotgun wedding if she was already pregnant before they had tied the knot, he most likely would have used the shotgun on my Dad if he was not married to my Mom the first time she had kids, lol!

    Neat that they are part of only 6% of folks to have been married for so long.

    While the Carter’s are not likely to celebrate a 78th Anniversary together (Carter has hung in there ever since he felt it wise to check himself into hospice care, but unfortunately, he probably will not be with us at this time next year), at least they reached this quite impressive milestone.

    Cheers to all the married folks who have spent a literal lifetime together.

  10. Monala says:

    @Michael Reynolds: congrats to you and your wife!

    And congratulations to the Carters. They’ve been an inspiration, in multiple ways.

  11. OzarkHillbilly says:

    The Carters were always first and foremost A #1 human beings. Congrats to them both on keeping it together for 77 years. As my Uncle Tony said on the occasion of their 50th when asked if he had ever considered divorce, “Divorce? Never. Murder on the other hand…”

  12. Kylopod says:

    @de stijl: Carter was kind of in the right place at the right time, then the wrong place at the wrong time. In 1976, his being a plain-spoken evangelical Christian appealed to a lot of culturally conservative voters on the heels of Watergate. He was the last Democrat to win Mississippi and Alabama. The thing is, he was never really a cultural conservative himself. He supported gay rights and abortion rights, he favored weed legalization long before it was cool, and he was from the first generation of Southern Dems who rejected the racist legacy of their forebears. And it was during his years as president that you began to see the rise of the Christian Right, which a certain divorced former Hollywood actor was able to exploit to steal those voters out from under Carter.

  13. Tony W says:

    @Kylopod: And he legalized home beer brewing!

    Since Carter, with the exception of Bill Clinton, most Democratic presidents have been far “better” Christians (more aligned with Jesus’ teachings as described in most translations of the Bible) than most Republican presidents. But you would never know it from the rhetoric.

  14. de stijl says:


    Weird, unimportant personal reminiscence…

    I became friends with the kids of Carter’s Vice President. By accident, by happenstance. One of my best friends was rooming with one of his sons when he went to U of M law school. And Brad was just fairly recently out so he was super into clubbing which is totally cool, but not my scene. I have danced in a gay club a time or two in my time. Brad was one of my go-to hang out dudes, so Bill and me sort of became hang out buddies by default as we were both het and not into clubbing.

    A nice dude, a cool dude. Had no idea his last name was Mondale for months. Met his sister who was and still is a stone cold hottie. Man, I was crushing so hard (hi, E!) How often do last names come up when you are just hanging out wasting time?

    When I did find out I just sort of acted like I didn’t know. Like before. Your last name doesn’t change who you are.

    BTW, the children of former Vice Presidents do not get Secret Service protection, but former Vice Presidents do. It’s not intrusive at all and probably a bit ceremonial, but it does exist.

  15. Mister Bluster says:

    On the day he was inaugurated, January 21, 1977, Jimmy Carter issued:
    AUGUST 4, 1964 TO MARCH 28, 1973

  16. DrDaveT says:


    I was born in DC the night of the day Carter was inaugurated–Jan. 20, 1977.

    I was working crowd control and parking at one of the Inaugural Balls that night, as a 14-year-old Boy Scout (in uniform, of course).

  17. Franklin says:

    @de stijl: Wait, were you yourself attending Michigan? Or just live in the A2 area? If so, what years?