Inside the 7-decade love story between the late George H.W. and Barbara Bush

The political power couple started out as teenage sweethearts.

December 3, 2018, 7:28 AM

The love story between the late President George H.W. Bush and his beloved wife, Barbara, spanned seven decades.

George Herbert Walker Bush married his teenage sweetheart, Barbara Pierce, in January 1945, and over the years became parents to six children -- including future President George W. Bush and future Florida Governor Jeb Bush -- as well as Marvin, Neil, Dorothy and a little girl named Robin, who died of leukemia at the age of three in 1953.

The power duo stayed strong and together, under the glaring spotlight of political life and in times of triumph as well as defeat.

PHOTO: Navy Lieutenant George H.W. Bush and Barbara Pierce were married in the First Presbyterian Church in Rye, New York on January 6, 1945.
Navy Lieutenant George H.W. Bush and Barbara Pierce were married in the First Presbyterian Church in Rye, New York on January 6, 1945.
Corbis via Getty Images

In a 1992 interview with ABC News' Barbara Walters, Barbara Bush said it is painful to her when her husband is criticized.

"I'm not going to lie to you," she said.

When her husband quipped, "Oh, no, you're used to it now," she maintained, "I am not."

PHOTO: George Bush smiles and waves to participants of his inaugural celebration with his wife Barbara in Washington D.C., Jan. 20, 1989.
George Bush smiles and waves to participants of his inaugural celebration with his wife Barbara in Washington D.C., Jan. 20, 1989.
Corbis via Getty Images

"I just fake and let you think ... I like it," Barbara Bush said. "No, I don't like it at all and I really don't like it when our children are brought into it all."

Still, Barbara Bush said she was so proud of her husband, and that being president hasn't changed him.

"I don't think he's changed at all, but my opinion of him has changed a little bit," she said. "I always thought he hung the moon -- everybody knows that -- but I'm embarrassed to say this in front of you, but it's true. George has remained so extraordinarily stable and steady through some very difficult times."

One of the trials they had to go through was Barbara Bush's heart open heart surgery in 2009.

"I've been a nervous wreck about it," the former president said of it at the time, while growing emotional. "Today we heard from four presidents of the United States: Obama, Clinton, Jimmy Carter, George Bush, George W Bush and me 5 and I think there is a lot of interest because of who she is."

PHOTO: Former President George H.W. Bush and his wife Barbara pose for a photo at Houston Methodist Hospital in Houston, Jan. 23, 2017.
Former President George H.W. Bush and his wife Barbara pose for a photo at Houston Methodist Hospital in Houston, Jan. 23, 2017.
Jim McGrath/Courtesy the Office of George H.W. Bush via AP

In a 2012 interview with ABC News' Diane Sawyer, the former president said that after 67 years together, he has "learned a lot about" his wife.

"She's just so kind ... and a leader of our family," he said. "She's an amazing spirit, amazing, unselfish spirit ... I just sit there now and watch her interact with the family. She's just wonderful. And every night, there she is."

George H.W. Bush also shared some advice for how to make a marriage span a lifetime.

PHOTO: Vice president George H.W. Bush and his wife Barbara relax in bed as their daughter and grandchildren join them at home in Kennebunkport, Maine, 1987.
Vice president George H.W. Bush and his wife Barbara relax in bed as their daughter and grandchildren join them at home in Kennebunkport, Maine, 1987.
David Valdez via Getty Images

"Never go to bed angry and stay angry. You never stay angry," he said. "That's good advice for married folks. You're gonna fight. You're gonna have fights I'm sure. But ... don't go to sleep being angry."

Barbara Bush passed away earlier this year at the age of 92, and during the couple's final hours together, the former president was reportedly holding his wife's hand.

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