Former President Jimmy Carter Shares a Secret of His 67-Year Marriage

Updated 10/08/14

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Former President Jimmy Carter and his wife Rosalynn are second to only Barbara and George H. W. Bush in presidential marriage longevity. Compared to the Bush's whopping 69 years of marriage, the Carters' 67 years still seem very impressive. And now, after nearly seven decades of marriage, the Carters spoke to People about their union, and mentioned a cute tradition they've kept up nearly that entire time.

When Carter was serving in the Navy in the 1940s, he coined the acronym "ILYTG," which stands for "I love you the goodest." Don't let the phrase's unconventional grammar throw you off — the meaning behind the term of endearment is almost as cute as the words themselves.

"That's what my mother and daddy used to say back and forth, and I picked it up with Rosa," Carter, the 39th president exclusively told People in an exclusive joint interview with his "Rosa," his nickname for the former First Lady.

And if the phrase has provided any kind of marital luck for the Carters, their children will likely benefit from it, too! The couple borrowed it from Jimmy's parents, and have since shared it with each other and passed it down through their family. "Now all our children do the same thing — ILYTG on the phone or in emails. They generally just put the initials," Jimmy said. "And sometimes they change the initials and make you guess what they're talking about."

He even inscribed the acronym on a compact for Rosalynn; that keepsake is now on display at the Jimmy Carter Presidential Library and Museum in Atlanta.

Clearly, spoken affection has contributed to their long, storied marriage. The parents of four also attribute their wedded bliss to knowing when to give each other space and participating in joint charitable actions through their philanthropy, the Carter Center.

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