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Joe and Jill Biden wave to the crowds after Joe announces his candidacy for the Democratic presidential nomination, 1987.

Joe and Jill Biden’s Love Story Will Pull at Your Heartstrings

Vogue

By Alexandra Macon. Photos: Getty Images.

The half of the country that’s still mourning the results of the election and trying to grapple with all that’s transpired in the week that’s followed got a much-needed dose of humor via The Skimm. In their daily morning newsletter, they circulated a link to a photo of “Young Joe Biden,” saying: “A picture of Vice President Joe Biden. When he was younger. And really, really, really, ridiculously good looking. And when ‘malarkey’ might have worked in a pick-up line.”

Amen, was my first thought after clicking over to a Huffington Post piece and finding two images of strapping, college-aged Biden along with a series of hilarious Instagrams and tweets like “Young Biden had the sauce,” and “I would text young Joe Biden at 1:27 a.m.” This and the viral memes of President Barack Obama and Biden’s private conversations have literally given me life recently.

Between the arms in the young Biden shots and the witty repartee in those memes, it’s clear the VP is a catch, and I couldn’t help but wonder about the other strong partnership in his life: the one he’s had with his wife Dr. Jill Biden for 39 years. Their love story hasn’t been a straightforward fairytale romance, and at times he’s suffered from unthinkable tragedy, but they’ve made a beautiful life together despite the heartbreak.

Joe Biden lost his first wife, college sweetheart Neilia Biden, and his 1-year-old daughter, Naomi, when a tractor-trailer slammed into their station wagon in 1972. In a Yale commencement speech, Biden said, “Six weeks after my election [as senator of Delaware], my whole world was altered forever. While I was in Washington hiring staff, I got a phone call. My wife and three children were Christmas shopping, a tractor-trailer broadsided them and killed my wife and killed my daughter. And they weren’t sure that my [two] sons would live.” The boys spent months in the hospital, and Biden was sworn in there. He goes on to say: “The incredible bond I have with my children is the gift I’m not sure I would have had, had I not been through what I went through. . . . But by focusing on my sons, I found my redemption.”

Three years later, the vice president’s brother introduced him to Jill Jacobs—Biden has said that he thinks somehow Neilia brought them together. The couple went on their first date when Jill, who had also been married before, was still in college. Jill told Vogue: “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.’ 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 we came home . . . he shook my hand good night . . . I went upstairs and called my mother at 1:00 a.m. and said, ‘Mom, I finally met a gentleman.’ ”

Joe Biden proposed five times before Jill finally accepted, telling Vogue: “I said, ‘Not yet. Not yet. Not yet.’ 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.” Joe remembers giving Jill an ultimatum, saying, “ ‘Look, this is the last time I’m asking you. I don’t care when we get married. But I want a commitment.’ And she said okay. But it took that!”

The two married on June 17, 1977, in New York City at the United Nations chapel by a Catholic priest. The ceremony was attended by about 40 of their family members and closest friends, and Biden’s sons, Beau and Hunter, stood by the couple’s side at the altar. Afterward, there was a reception lunch at the Sign of the Dove. The family of four then embarked on a honeymoon together because according to Joe and Jill, they were all marrying each other, which is pretty much the nicest thought ever. Here, a look back at Joe and Jill Biden’s love story.

This story originally appeared on Vogue.

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This story originally appeared on Vogue.

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