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PLAINS, Ga. – The morning after an impromptu first date with Eleanor Rosalynn Smith, James Earl “Jimmy” Carter Jr. told his mother, “She’s the one I’m going to marry.”

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On Wednesday, the couple will celebrate their 75th wedding anniversary in Plains, Georgia, after traversing the globe for nearly eight decades side by side: as a Naval officer and military spouse, American president and first lady and, more recently, human rights and public health ambassadors.

“It’s a full partnership,” Jimmy Carter told The Associated Press during a joint interview ahead of the couple’s July 7 matrimonial milestone.

Jimmy Carter, 96, recounted to The Washington Post his comments to his mother the morning after his first date with the future Rosalynn Carter.

“I didn’t know that for years,” Rosalynn Carter, 93, told the outlet, squeezing her husband’s hand as she spoke.

Although the couple grew up as next-door neighbors, happenstance brought them together that 1945 night, thanks to a little intervention from Jimmy Carter’s sister, Ruth, and his steady girlfriend having plans on the midshipman’s last night in Plains before heading back to Annapolis, Maryland.

Neither knew the journey ahead, including naval commissions, a return to the family farm following the death of Jimmy Carter’s father, a White House term punctuated by Middle East peace accords negotiated at Camp David and nearly 40 years of philanthropic service targeting the underserved and overlooked.

“My biggest secret is to marry the right person if you want to have a long-lasting marriage,” Jimmy Carter told the AP.

And while the couple values faith and family above all else – including reading aloud nightly from the Bible – Rosalynn Carter said common interests have to be carefully cultivated to keep couples engaged and moving forward together. But maybe not every waking moment.

“Jimmy and I are always looking for things to do together,” she told the outlet, noting those interests do not negate the individuals who enjoy them.

“Each (person) should have some space. That’s really important,” Rosalynn Carter said.

Click here and here to read more about the Carters’ love story.

— The Associated Press contributed to this report.