Jill Biden says she will 'continue to fight' for Joe Biden after his disastrous debate. Here's a timeline of their relationship.


  • President Joe Biden and first lady Jill Biden have been married for 47 years.

  • Joe had to propose five times before she said yes. They eventually married in 1977.

  • They have been at each other’s sides through celebrations and challenges.

Over the course of their 47-year marriage, President Joe Biden and first lady Jill Biden have celebrated triumphant victories and milestones as well as setbacks and devastating losses.

Jill has continued to champion her husband’s 2024 reelection campaign despite his disastrous debate performance that raised further questions about his age and fitness for a second term.

The president often refers to Jill as “the love of my life and the life of my love.” Here’s a timeline of their love story.

This story was originally published in 2020. It was updated in 2022 and again in 2024.

1975: Joe Biden’s brother introduced him to Jill Taylor Jacobs.

A black and white photo of Joe and Jill Biden in the early days of their relationship.A black and white photo of Joe and Jill Biden in the early days of their relationship.

Joe Biden and Jill Biden in the early days of their relationship.Office of United States Senator Joe Biden

Joe was a 33-year-old US senator, and Jill was a 24-year-old college senior. Both had been married before. Joe’s wife and daughter died in a car crash in 1972, leaving him a widower with two sons, and Jill and her husband filed for divorce in her junior year.

I was a senior, and I had been dating guys in jeans and clogs and T-shirts, he came to the door and he had a sport coat and loafers, and I thought, ‘God, this is never going to work, not in a million years,'” Jill told Vogue. “He was nine years older than I am! But we went out to see ‘A Man and a Woman’ at the movie theater in Philadelphia, and we really hit it off.”

When she got home from the date, Jill told Vogue, she called her mother and said, “Mom, I finally met a gentleman.”

1977: The couple married after Joe proposed five times.

Joe and Jill Biden in June 1987.Joe and Jill Biden in June 1987.

Joe Biden and Jill Biden at a campaign event.Getty Images

“I said, ‘Not yet. Not yet. Not yet,'” Jill told Vogue of Joe Biden’s proposals. “Because by that time, of course, I had fallen in love with the boys, and I really felt that this marriage had to work. Because they had lost their mom, and I couldn’t have them lose another mother. So I had to be 100 percent sure.”

When she did eventually agree to marry him, they held their wedding ceremony at the United Nations chapel and a reception lunch at Sign of the Dove in New York City. They took sons Beau and Hunter on their honeymoon.

1981: The couple welcomed daughter Ashley.

Joe Biden with daughter Ashley as a young girlJoe Biden with daughter Ashley as a young girl

Joe Biden with daughter Ashley Biden.Bill Ballenberg/The LIFE Images Collection via Getty Images/Getty Images

In a video shown at the 2020 Democratic National Convention, Jill said that Ashley’s birth made the family “complete.

June 1987: When Joe announced his candidacy for president, Jill was by his side.

Joe and Jill Biden announcing his candidacy for the Democratic presidential nomination in 1987Joe and Jill Biden announcing his candidacy for the Democratic presidential nomination in 1987

Joe Biden and Jill Biden at an event announcing his presidential run.Cynthia Johnson/The LIFE Images Collection via Getty Images

He announced his presidential run in Wilmington, Delaware.

September 1987: They presented a united front when he withdrew from the race.

Joe Biden announces his withdrawal from the race in 1987Joe Biden announces his withdrawal from the race in 1987

Joe Biden announced his withdrawal from the race.Arnie Sachs/CNP/Getty Images

His short-lived campaign had been enveloped in scandal, with allegations of plagiarizing his speeches and exaggerating his academic records from college and law school, The New York Times reported.

“‘I made some mistakes,” he said as he announced the end of his campaign.

The New York Times described Jill’s face as “a study in dejection.” Jill later wrote about controlling her emotions in her memoir “Where The Light Enters.”

“As a political spouse, I’ve found that my stoicism often serves me well,” she wrote. “In 1988, when Joe’s first presidential campaign started to look bleak, people were constantly looking for cracks in our team. We all felt scrutinized, but I refused to show weakness.”

1988: Joe had two brain aneurysms. The couple posed outside the hospital when he was discharged after the first of two operations.

Joe and Jill Biden at Walter Reed Army Medical Center after he was discharged.Joe and Jill Biden at Walter Reed Army Medical Center after he was discharged.

Joe Biden and Jill Biden at Walter Reed Army Medical Center after he was discharged.Pam Price/AP

Joe had a pulmonary embolism later that year as he recovered. In her book, Jill writes about watching as “EMTs carried him down the steps of our house on a stretcher.

January 2007: Jill earned her PhD in education from the University of Delaware. At the graduation, Joe handed Jill her doctorate.

Joe Biden and Jill Biden hug on the campaign trail.Joe Biden and Jill Biden hug on the campaign trail.

Joe Biden and Jill Biden on the campaign trail.Mark Wilson/Getty Images

She became Dr. Jill Biden.

July 2007: Joe wrote about his love for Jill in his memoir, “Promises to Keep.”

Joe Biden released "Promises to Keep" in 2007.Joe Biden released "Promises to Keep" in 2007.

Joe Biden released “Promises to Keep” in 2007.Charles Dharapak/AP

“She gave me back my life,” he wrote. “She made me start to think my family might be whole again.”

2008: Barack Obama chose Joe as his running mate, and the two families developed a close bond.

The Obamas and Bidens during a rally in Springfield, Illinois, in 2008.The Obamas and Bidens during a rally in Springfield, Illinois, in 2008.

The Obamas and Bidens at a rally in Illinois.EMMANUEL DUNAND/AFP via Getty Images

The “bromance” between the two politicians went viral.

2009: Jill held the family’s Bible when her husband was sworn in as vice president.

Jill Biden holds the Bible as Joe Biden is sworn in as vice president in 2009.Jill Biden holds the Bible as Joe Biden is sworn in as vice president in 2009.

Joe Biden was sworn in as vice president in 2009.Brooks Kraft LLC/Corbis via Getty Images

Joe supported her career, too. She made history as the first known second lady to hold a full-time job, teaching English at Northern Virginia Community College.

“As second lady, she was teaching full time for eight years, 15 credits a semester,” Joe said in a video shown at the 2020 Democratic National Convention.

“I said, ‘I know I can do both jobs,'” she said.

She encouraged students to call her “Dr. B.,” The Los Angeles Times reported.

February 2010: On Valentine’s Day, Joe surprised her with a tree swing marked with a commemorative plaque on the grounds of the vice president’s residence.

The plaque on a tree on the grounds of the vice president's residence reading "Joe Loves Jill."The plaque on a tree on the grounds of the vice president's residence reading "Joe Loves Jill."

The plaque on a tree on the grounds of the vice president’s residence.Katherine Frey/The Washington Post via Getty Images

The plaque reads “Joe loves Jill. Valentine’s Day 2010.”

March 2010: They took diplomatic trips together, such as their visit to Israel.

Joe Biden and Jill Biden arrive in Israel.Joe Biden and Jill Biden arrive in Israel.

Joe Biden and Jill Biden arrive in Israel.BAZ RATNER/AFP via Getty Images

They took other trips together, such as attending the 2010 Olympics in Vancouver.

September 2012: Jill elicited giggles when she told a crowd in New Hampshire, “I’ve seen Joe up close.”

Jill Biden introduces Joe at a campaign event in 2012.Jill Biden introduces Joe at a campaign event in 2012.

Jill Biden introduced Joe Biden at a campaign event in 2012.Kevin Lamarque/Reuters

An ABC News camera panned to Joe, who could be seen laughing good-naturedly at the unintended double entendre as the audience cheered.

“It’s in my remarks, really,” she said, before continuing with her speech amid chuckles from the crowd.

September 2012: At the Democratic National Convention, Jill spoke about Joe’s support for her career and his strength in the face of loss.

Joe Biden embraces Jill Biden at the Democratic National Convention in 2012.Joe Biden embraces Jill Biden at the Democratic National Convention in 2012.

Joe Biden embraces Jill Biden at the Democratic National Convention.SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images

“After Joe was elected vice president, people started questioning whether I could keep teaching,” she said. “Not Joe. He was there standing by my side saying ‘Of course you should. It’s who you are, Jill.'”

2013: When Obama won a second term, Jill held the Bible again when Joe was sworn in at the inauguration.

Jill Biden looks at her husband as he's sworn in during the 57th Presidential Inauguration in 2013.Jill Biden looks at her husband as he's sworn in during the 57th Presidential Inauguration in 2013.

Jill Biden held the Bible during Joe Biden’s 2013 inauguration as vice president.Carolyn Kaster/AP

As they had in 2009, they danced together at more inaugural balls.

2015: Tragedy struck when their son Beau Biden died of brain cancer.

Joe Biden and Jill Biden leave the funeral of their son Beau in Wilmington, Delaware.Joe Biden and Jill Biden leave the funeral of their son Beau in Wilmington, Delaware.

Joe Biden and Jill Biden at their son Beau Biden’s funeral.Pablo Martinez Monsivais/Pool/Reuters

Still reeling from the loss, Joe decided not to run for president in 2016.

2019: Jill released her own book, “Where The Light Enters,” in which she wrote about falling in love with Joe in the early days of their relationship.

Copes of Jill Biden's book "Where the Light Enters: Building a Family, Discovering Myself."Copes of Jill Biden's book "Where the Light Enters: Building a Family, Discovering Myself."

Jill Biden’s book.Johnny Louis/Getty Images

“After the disappointment of my divorce, I never wanted to feel so out of control of my heart again,” she wrote. “But in the months that Joe and I were dating, that desire ran up against a new reality: I was falling in love.”

April 2019: When Joe entered the 2020 presidential race, Jill became an important voice in his campaign.

Joe and Jill Biden greet supporters and staffers at an event in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, in 2020.Joe and Jill Biden greet supporters and staffers at an event in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, in 2020.

Joe Biden and Jill Biden at a campaign event in Philadelphia.Bastiaan Slabbers/NurPhoto via Getty Images

For the first time since 1981, she took a break from teaching to help him on the campaign trail.

December 2019: In an unusual campaign stop moment, Joe nibbled on his wife’s finger as she spoke to a crowd in Iowa.

Joe Biden bites Jill Biden's finger as she speaks at a campaign eventJoe Biden bites Jill Biden's finger as she speaks at a campaign event

Joe Biden bit Jill Biden’s finger as she spoke at a campaign event.Joshua Lott/Getty Images

Jill was gesturing behind herself as she spoke, barely missing Joe’s face as he pretended to dodge. Joe then leaned forward while her arm was outstretched and bit down on the tip of her index finger. She appeared to laugh it off.

Jill later reposted a video on X of the hosts of “The View” discussing the moment, where Meghan McCain said, “I thought it was silly, and they clearly still love each other and are playful,” and replied, “Guilty, we do still love each other!”

March 2020: Jill fought off protesters who stormed the stage on Super Tuesday, leading Joe to joke, “I’m probably the only candidate running for president whose wife is my Secret Service.”

Jill Biden fights off protestors that got up on the stage during a Super Tuesday election night party in Los Angeles, California.Jill Biden fights off protestors that got up on the stage during a Super Tuesday election night party in Los Angeles, California.

Jill Biden fought off protestors that rushed the stage during a Super Tuesday election night party.Melina Mara/The Washington Post via Getty Images

“Whoa, you don’t screw around with a Philly girl, I’ll tell you what,” he said after the protesters were removed from the stage. “I thought I heard on the news on the way over that the committee in charge of Secret Service decided they have to start providing Secret Service for us. I think that’s because they’re afraid Jill’s going to hurt someone. I tell you what man, I married way above my station.”

August 2020: Jill delivered a keynote speech at the Democratic National Convention from the high school classroom in Delaware where she used to teach English.

A screenshot from the livestream of the 2020 Democratic National Convention.A screenshot from the livestream of the 2020 Democratic National Convention.

A screenshot from the livestream of the 2020 Democratic National Convention.Handout/DNCC via Getty Images

“Love makes us flexible and resilient,” she said in the speech. “It allows us to become more than ourselves, together, and though it can’t protect us from the sorrows of life, it gives us refuge, a home. How do you make a broken family whole? The same way you make a nation whole: with love and understanding and with small acts of kindness.”

November 2020: Joe won the presidential election, and called himself “Jill’s husband” in his victory speech.

President-elect Joe Biden and Jill Biden wave after Biden's victory speech.President-elect Joe Biden and Jill Biden wave after Biden's victory speech.

Joe Biden and Jill Biden waved to the crowds after his victory speech.ANDREW HARNIK/POOL/AFP via Getty Images

“Jill’s a mom — a military mom — and an educator,” he said. “She has dedicated her life to education, but teaching isn’t just what she does — it’s who she is. For America’s educators, this is a great day: You’re going to have one of your own in the White House, and Jill is going to make a great first lady.”

December 2020: After a Wall Street Journal op-ed urged her to drop her “Dr” title since she’s not a medical doctor, Jill remained proud of her doctorate, and Joe backed her up.

Joe Biden and Jill Biden in an interview with Stephen Colbert.Joe Biden and Jill Biden in an interview with Stephen Colbert.

Joe Biden and Jill Biden in an interview with Stephen Colbert.CBS

In an interview on “The Late Show with Stephen Colbert,” they responded to the controversy.

“That was such a surprise,” Jill said of the op-ed. “It was really the tone of it. He called me ‘kiddo,’ and one of the things I’m most proud of is my doctorate. I mean, I’ve worked so hard for it. And Joe came when I defended my thesis.”

“I got to hand her her doctorate on the stage at the University of Delaware,” Joe added.

Colbert jokingly asked if Joe ever wanted to “get out a length of pool chain and go full corn pop” on people who criticize Jill’s academic achievements. As he began to answer, Jill interjected with “No! The answer is no!” Joe then quipped, “I’ve been suppressing my Irishness for a long time.”

January 2020: Jill held the Biden family Bible for Joe’s inauguration as president of the United States.

President Joe Biden is sworn in as the 46th president at the 2021 InaugurationPresident Joe Biden is sworn in as the 46th president at the 2021 Inauguration

Joe Biden was sworn in as the 46th president of the United States.Saul Loeb/Pool via REUTERS

The Biden family Bible dates back to 1893. He has used it for his swearing-in ceremonies as a US senator and as vice president.

April 2021: Joe stopped to pick a dandelion for Jill on the White House lawn as they boarded Marine One.

President Joe Biden hands Dr. Jill Biden a dandelion.President Joe Biden hands Dr. Jill Biden a dandelion.

Joe Biden handed Jill Biden a flower on the White House Ellipse.Demetrius Freeman/The Washington Post via Getty Images

The president and first lady were traveling to Atlanta for a rally in Plains, Georgia, to meet with former president Jimmy Carter and former first lady Rosalynn Carter.

As they were boarding Marine One on the White House Ellipse, the president bent down and picked a dandelion for his wife. Jill stopped to accept the flower, and she held on to it as she boarded the helicopter.

December 2021: They welcomed a new German shepherd puppy, Commander.

Joe Biden and Jill Biden pet their new dog CommanderJoe Biden and Jill Biden pet their new dog Commander

Joe Biden and Jill Biden pet Commander.SAUL LOEB/AFP via Getty Images

The Bidens entered the White House with two German shepherds, Champ and Major. Champ passed away at the age of 13 in June 2021, and Major was rehomed due to behavioral issues.

The Bidens also adopted a cat, Willow, in January 2022.

Commander was moved out of the White House in October 2023 after numerous biting incidents.

February 2022: Jill was spotted wearing a corsage from Joe in a sweet Valentine’s Day tradition.

Joe Biden and Jill Biden, wearing a corsage, on Valentine's Day in 2022.Joe Biden and Jill Biden, wearing a corsage, on Valentine's Day in 2022.

Joe Biden and Jill Biden on Valentine’s Day.Alex Wong/Getty Images

While exiting Marine One on Valentine’s Day, the first lady was photographed wearing a corsage of what appeared to be white gardenias, her favorite flower.

In an interview with People magazine shortly after Joe took office, Jill shared that the corsages began as a Valentine’s Day tradition, and that he had surprised her with a corsage of gardenias at the inauguration.

“I don’t know when it started — a long, long time ago. I think it was for Valentine’s Day,” she said. “I love gardenias and so Joe would buy me a wrist corsage of gardenias. I wore it to school to teach!”

Joe also shared a sweet Valentine’s Day message for his wife.

“You’re the love of my life and the life of my love, Jilly. Happy Valentine’s Day,” he wrote on X.

May 2022: In a cover story for Harper’s Bazaar, Jill said she and Joe fight over text, or “fext,” to avoid arguing in front of their Secret Service detail.

Joe Biden points as Jill Biden stands next to him at the White HouseJoe Biden points as Jill Biden stands next to him at the White House

Joe Biden and Jill Biden at a White House reception.SAUL LOEB/AFP via Getty Images

Jill, who appeared on the June-July cover of Harper’s Bazaar, told the magazine that she and Biden fight via text in what they call “fexting” to avoid arguing in front of their Secret Service detail — a method they’ve used since Biden served as vice president.

In one particularly heated exchange, Biden reminded her that presidential communications like texts and emails are kept as part of a historical record of each presidency.

“Joe said, ‘You realize that’s going to go down in history. There will be a record of that,'” she told Harper’s Bazaar. “I won’t tell you what I called him that time.”

While they do occasionally “fext,” Jill also spoke about supporting her husband’s work during his presidency.

“I try to be a support for Joe because I don’t know how many people are saying to him, ‘That was great. That was brilliant.’ I try to be that person for him,” she said. “Some days, I see Joe and I’m just like, ‘I don’t know how you’re doing it.’ It’s the pandemic and then it’s the war and then it’s the economy and then it’s the gas prices. You feel like you’re being slammed.”

June 2022: They celebrated their 45th wedding anniversary.

Joe Biden and Jill Biden ride bikes in Rehoboth Beach, Delaware.Joe Biden and Jill Biden ride bikes in Rehoboth Beach, Delaware.

Joe Biden and Jill Biden rode bikes in Rehoboth Beach, Delaware.SAUL LOEB/AFP via Getty Images

The Bidens celebrated their anniversary at their beach house in Rehoboth Beach, Delaware. During their trip, Joe fell off his bike but quickly got back up and chatted with reporters. A White House spokesperson said that the president did not require medical attention.

2023: Joe announced he would run for reelection in 2024.

Joe Biden and Jill Biden walk through the White House.Joe Biden and Jill Biden walk through the White House.

Joe Biden and Jill Biden at the White House.Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Jill’s support was widely regarded as a determining factor in Joe’s decision to run again in 2024.

South Carolina Sen. Dick Harpootlian, a former state party chairman and Biden 2020 finance committee member, told Business Insider in 2022 that “Joe Biden wouldn’t have run in ’20 if Jill Biden had not wanted him to run and he won’t run in ’24 if Jill Biden doesn’t want him to run.

2024: Jill defended Joe after his disastrous presidential debate against Donald Trump.

Jill Biden speaks after Joe Biden's presidential debate in 2024.Jill Biden speaks after Joe Biden's presidential debate in 2024.

Jill Biden spoke after Joe Biden’s first 2024 debate against Donald Trump.Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images

During the first presidential debate of 2024, Joe spoke with a hoarse voice, offered convoluted answers, and appeared disoriented at times. His poor performance sparked panic among Democrats about whether he should stay in the race.

Jill defended Joe in the face of widespread criticism, telling Vogue that the Biden family “will not let those 90 minutes define the four years he’s been president. We will continue to fight.”

“When he gets knocked down, Joe gets back up, and that’s what we’re doing today,” Jill said at a New York City fundraiser the day after the debate.

Joe also acknowledged that his age has impacted his debate performance, but remained firm in his commitment to stay in the race.

“I know I’m not a young man, to state the obvious,” he said during a rally the day after the debate. “I don’t walk as easy as I used to. I don’t speak as smoothly as I used to. I don’t debate as well as I used to. But I know what I do know: I know how to tell the truth. I know right from wrong. And I know how to do this job. I know how to get things done.”

Read the original article on Business Insider





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