Strange things about Joe Biden's marriage

Former Vice President Joe Biden and his wife, Dr. Jill Biden (née Jacobs), tied the knot in June 1977. It was five years after the politician's first wife, Neilia Biden, and their 13-month-old daughter, Naomi, tragically died in a car crash. While Joe's union with Jill, a longtime educator, was preceded by unimaginable heartache, the couple's marriage has also been marked by many happy moments, including the birth of their daughter, Ashley, in 1981.

However, like most pairings, this relationship isn't without its flukes. In fact, there are plenty of curious facts concerning this partnership, including some questionable details about their engagement. We don't want to spill all of the tea right away, but what was supposed to be a romantic moment involved a major ultimatum from the Democratic presidential hopeful. We'll also delve into the odd ways in which Joe's political career has shaped the duo's relationshipReady to dig deep into this intriguing romance? Take a seat as we uncover all of the strange things about Joe and Jill Biden's marriage.

It all started at the airport

Whether it's a chance encounter or blind date, couples meet through a myriad of ways. As for how Joe Biden found longtime love Jill Biden? Well, it wasn't your average meet-cute. Look no further than the airport in Wilmington, Del. — and before you get all sappy on us with images of stolen glances at the baggage carousel, you should know that this isn't the most lovey-dovey story out there. 

According to her 2019 memoir, Where the Light Enters, Jill had posed in an ad campaign for New Castle County's Parks and Recreation division. That advertisement wound up at said airport in the mid-'70s. Joe, who traveled frequently at the time, was apparently enamored with this woman in the photos and told his brother, Frankie, that the mysterious model was his dream date. We guess this is what they call love at first sight? In a random yet fortuitous twist, Frankie knew a mutual friend of Jill's and was able to get her phone number, which was notably unlisted at the time. Just one day after Joe procured Jill's digits, he called his future wife up for a date in March 1975. When she asked how he'd gotten her number, the politician's answer was oddly curt. In her book, Jill recalled Joe saying, "My brother Frank gave it to me. I just got back into town and was wondering — are you free tonight?" 

Nope, not strange at all.

Joe wasn't Jill's type ... like, at all

When Jill Biden met Joe Biden, he was just three years into his run as Delaware's longest-serving senator. The prestigious title might have drawn other potential dates to the dashing politician like moth to a flame, but this wasn't the case for his future wife. In fact, then-college student Jill initially didn't want anything to do with Joe. "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,'" she told Vogue in 2016. "He was nine years older than I am!" (Age difference aside — loafers? How could you, Joe?)

Despite her reservations, the single dad with two young sons (Hunter and Beau) eventually won Jill over with his chivalrous ways. "But we went out to see A Man and a Woman at the movie theater in Philadelphia, and we really hit it off," she recalled. "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.'" 

Phew! Nice save, Joe. We're glad to hear this blossoming romance worked out despite the then-senator's questionable taste in footwear.

The rocky road to engagement

When Joe Biden proposed to Jill Biden, it wasn't actually a one-time deal. In a surprising and arguably odd twist, he had to ask for her hand in marriage a whopping five times before she said "yes." Talk about persistence. Jill had some understandable reasons to hesitate on getting hitched, including a failed first marriage, a budding career, and plans for graduate school. "I knew that if I married Joe, I'd have to give up my apartment, the only space that was just for me," she wrote in Where the Light Enters (via Time). "I'd have to quit my job for the boys' sake … And I'd have to become Jill Biden, senator's wife. It was all too much."

After her initial rejection, Joe popped the question three more times, before giving Jill a stern ultimatum in 1977. "'I've been as patient as I know how to be, but this has got my Irish up. Either you decide to marry me, or that's it — I'm out. I'm not asking again,'" she recalled in her memoir. "His blue eyes, normally alight, seemed clouded with gray. 'I'm too much in love with you to just be friends,'" he told her. Of course, she eventually agreed to his proposal, and the rest is history. 

Jill's chance encounter with Joe's late wife

Joe Biden tragically lost his first wife, Neilia Biden, and their 1-year-old daughter, Naomi, to a fatal car accident in December 1972. According to The New York Times, the couple's sons, Hunter and Beau, also suffered serious injuries when a tractor-trailer struck the family's station wagon when the family was on its way to buy a Christmas tree. While the politician wasn't familiar with Jill Biden at the time, his future wife reportedly had a chance encounter with Neilia just weeks preceding her death. 

The fleeting moment occurred at a 1972 victory party celebrating Joe's first senate win. Jill spotted Neilia in the crowd. "She had an easy, natural beauty that made her look almost out of place in the frantic crowd," Jill wrote in Where the Light Enters. "From across the room, you could see how happy she was — happy, and incredibly proud." For whatever reason, Jill decided to say hello. "On the spur of the moment. I walked up to her, held out my hand, and said, 'Congratulations on your win,'" Jill recalled. "She took my hand, smiled graciously, and said, 'Thank you so much.'" 

While this seems to be an eerie coincidence, it is comforting to know that Jill shared a warm moment with Hunter and Beau's late mother.

Jill's awkward role defending her husband's actions

Jill Biden has found herself in the awkward position of defending Joe Biden against his alleged history of touching women inappropriately. In March 2019, former Nevada State Assemblywoman Lucy Flores claimed that the then-vice president sniffed her hair and planted a "big slow kiss" on the back of her head at a rally in 2014. "My brain couldn't process what was happening," Flores wrote in an essay for New York magazine. "I was embarrassed. I was shocked." Joe stated that he never meant to make Flores feel uncomfortable and pledged to "listen respectfully" to women in the future. 

Jill also addressed the controversy on Good Morning America. "I think what you don't realize is how many people approach Joe," she said. "Men and women, looking for comfort or empathy. But going forward, I think he's gonna have to judge — be a better judge — of when people approach him, how he's going to react. That he maybe shouldn't approach them." While Jill isn't the first politician's wife forced to deal with these types of allegations, that doesn't make her plight any less uncomfortable. 

Is Joe ignoring Jill's wishes?

Jill Biden has been forthright about her disinterest in becoming a first lady. She touched on this sentiment in Where the Light Enters, comparing her situation to former first lady Michelle Obama. "Like me, she had a career of her own — the title of First Lady wasn't one she was seeking, but she believed deeply in Barack's leadership and did everything she could to support him," she wrote. In another excerpt, Jill explains that she's more comfortable teaching. "I was grateful to be Second Lady. It was an incredible honor. But the role I have always felt most at home is being 'Dr. B.' — working with first-generation college students, teaching them to write essays."

Her continued disinterest in the prospective title certainly hasn't been lost in the news. In February 2019, The Washington Post published a piece titled, "Jill Biden has never wanted to be first lady, but Joe can't win the White House without her." Given her outspoken reservations, it's fair to wonder why former Vice President Joe Biden entered the 2020 presidential race at all. While it's all a little odd, it should be noted that the longtime teacher is still "excited and proud" of her husband's decision to run for the highest political office in the United States.