The Coach's Corner

A love story

The Coach’s Corner Newsletter #25

As headlines on war and hostages, political turmoil and a tunnel collapse dominate the news, we learned that former First Lady Rosalynn Carter died this week, after entering hospice care just a few days before. She and Former President Jimmy Carter had been married for 77 years and in a news release from the Carter Center, Mr. Carter shared,

Rosalynn was my equal partner in everything I ever accomplished. She gave me wise guidance and encouragement when I needed it. As long as Rosalynn was in the world, I always knew somebody loved and supported me.

Her tribute and funeral services were held this week, and despite Mr. Carter’s failing health he showed up at both services, a reminder of their enduring love.

Today’s headline, a love story, explores how the Carters gave themselves the space to grow independently and together, knit closely to their faith and family. In today’s insight, 3 pieces of advice they offered on their 75th wedding anniversary. And today’s tool – how to build relationships intentionally by making time, spending time and giving space.


A love story

In Tuesday’s tribute service for his wife, Jimmy Carter sat in a wheelchair in the front row of a church in Atlanta. This is the first time many have seen the former president in the ten months he’s been in hospice, but his family said he was absolutely determined to make the more than 100-mile journey.

Their daughter Amy Carter shared an emotional tribute of her parents’ enduring love.

After President Carter lost his re-election bid in 1980, Rosalynn was devastated. That’s when they picked up the pieces and decided to lean into each other, their strong faith and their commitment to the underserved. Bill Barrow, with Associated Press, wrote:

After the presidency, they built The Carter Center together. They met with world leaders, monitored elections and fought disease in developing nations. Sometimes she took notes, other times spoke up. There are remote villages within the 145-plus countries they visited between them where children, many now adults, were named Jimmy or Rosalynn or Carter.

In an interview with People magazine in 2014, Rosalynn Carter explained that she and her husband had separate interests, which made all the difference in the world.

I’d say space [is the secret to a lasting marriage]. One of the hardest times was when we came home from the White House, it was the first time we’d been together in the house all day every day. So I got my office in what was a bedroom, and his is in what was the garage.”

Their son, Chip Carter, shared:

“Besides being a loving mother and extraordinary First Lady, my mother was a great humanitarian in her own right. Her life of service and compassion was an example for all Americans. She will be sorely missed not only by our family but by the many people who have better mental health care and access to resources for caregiving today.

Through the years, the Carters worked together and independently, co-authored a book and spoke often about their strong relationship.

The Carter Center said in lieu of flowers, the Carter family requests that you consider a contribution to the Carter Center’s Mental Health Program or the Rosalynn Carter Institute for Caregivers.


3 pieces of relationship advice from Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter

When the Carters celebrated their 75th wedding anniversary, Minda Zetlin wrote in Want a lasting marriage? Follow these 3 rules, say Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter.

Here’s the advice:

1.     Make the other person your partner in everything you do.

The Carters insisted that if you want to be in a true partnership with another person, that means sharing everything–including your career choices, which will inevitably affect your partner or spouse.

2.     Never go to bed angry.

The Carters say following this rule is one big secret to a happy marriage. Coming to that understanding before you fall asleep means you won’t be stewing in your angry feelings all night. You can look at the problem with fresh eyes, and in a calmer state, come morning.

3.     Make sure to enjoy each other’s company.

If you enjoy being with your partner, you’ll be more motivated to make the relationship work. Jimmy was elected president and won the Nobel Peace Prize, but still told reporters that marrying Rosalynn was “the best thing that ever happened to me.”


Making time, spending time, and giving space

Whether you’re in a long term relationship or wanting to make sure you establish solid connections at work, here are three key areas you might want to explore: making time, spending time and giving space.

Credit: Pepperdine/Boone Center for the Family

My takeaway

Jimmy Carter was sworn in as the 39th President of the United States in 1977, my senior year of high school. By the time he lost his bid for re-election, I had completed my university studies in Communications and began my career in broadcast journalism.

I remember Rosalynn Carter as a significant partner to the President as first lady. She attended Cabinet meetings, traveled overseas and was a leading advocate for mental health research, among other causes.

She founded the Rosalynn Carter Institute for Caregivers, building on her belief that “everyone is a caregiver now, has been a caregiver or will either be or need a caregiver in the future.” Given the trajectory of my personal path to helping manage the care of my own parents, her words have special meaning.

Many of us have observed the love story shared by the Carters with awe and admiration. These past few days, I’ve reflected on how intentionally Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter expressed their love for each other, their faith and family and those issues that improved the lives of the people they served.

The story they shared so publicly demonstrates what it means to have purpose and meaning. A lesson that applies to every aspect of our lives.

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