“I am indebted to no man and only one woman, my dear wife, Betty, as I begin this very difficult job.” – Gerald Ford, 1976
Betty Ford is considered one of the most outspoken First Ladies in our history. Her candor and boldness may not seem as controversial now, but during her time in the White House, her views on women’s rights, gay rights, abortion, addiction and cancer were considered radical.
Her views on marijuana were considerably open for the time as well. According to Mrs. Ford, her young adult children probably had smoked marijuana — and if she were their age, she’d try it, too.
Here are a few quotes from an incredibly strong woman who has made an indelible imprint on our history:
• I was an ordinary woman who was called onstage at an extraordinary time. I was no different once I became first lady than I had been before. But, through an accident of history, I had become interesting to people.
• I’ve learned a lot about myself. Most of it is all right. When I add up the pluses and subtract the minuses, I still come out pretty well.
• We were in a position where my husband had been sworn into office during a very, very difficult time. There had been so much cover-up during Watergate that we wanted to be sure there would be no cover-up in the Ford Administration. So rather than continue this traditional silence about breast cancer, we felt we had to be public.
• My makeup wasn’t smeared, I wasn’t disheveled, I behaved politely, and I never finished off a bottle, so how could I be alcoholic?
• [Martha Graham] shaped my whole life. She gave me the ability to stand up to all the things I had to go through, with much more courage than I would have had without her.
• [About becoming First Lady at Nixon’s resignation] I figured, okay, I’ll move to the White House, do the best I can, and if they don’t like it, they can kick me out. But they can’t make me be somebody I’m not.
• [About her husband’s appointment as Vice President in 1973] If I had known what was coming, I think I would have sat right down and cried.
Gerald Ford on the definition of a successful marriage:
“A successful marriage cannot thrive on simply a mutuality of interests, important as that ingredient is over the years for compatibility. There must be understanding, compassion and emotion which fits under the umbrella of love. A marriage that has these attributes can weather the storm clouds that are inevitable in an intimate relationship … There must be a belief on the part of both that there is nothing of a higher priority than the sanctity and continuation of the relationship.”
Betty on the secret of their successful marriage:
“You go into it, both of you, as a seventy-thirty proposition. In other words, here I’m giving seventy, he can give thirty, he’s giving seventy, I give thirty. When you’re going overboard trying to please each other, you can’t help but be happy.”