Fact Check

Did Jill Biden Agree to Marry Joe Biden After Five Proposals?

Jill Biden reportedly took her time in deciding whether or not she wanted to marry the then-senator from Delaware.

Published May 1, 2021

 (Office of United States Senator Joe Biden (D - Delaware)/Wikimedia Commons)
Image Via Office of United States Senator Joe Biden (D - Delaware)/Wikimedia Commons
First lady Jill Biden said she did not agree to marry U.S. President Joe Biden until his fifth proposal.

First lady Jill Biden and U.S. President Joe Biden have been together for more than four decades, but reports across the internet claimed it took up to five proposal attempts before Jill Biden agreed to marry the then-senator from Delaware. And those reports appear to be true.

According to an excerpt from Jill Biden’s book, “Where the Light Enters: Building a Family, Discovering Myself,” published in Time magazine, Biden describes the moments that led to her finally agreeing to marry the future president.

In the excerpt titled, "Why Joe Had to Propose 5 Times Before I Said Yes—And What Finally Changed My Mind," she describes how she rejected his proposal four times before finally agreeing after his fifth attempt. Why was she so hesitant? She wrote:

I was launching my career and planning for graduate school — and then I had staff calling to schedule dates with my boyfriend around his insane Senate schedule. I was being pulled in so many directions. I knew that if I married Joe, I’d have to give up my apartment, the only space that was just for me. I’d have to quit my job for the boys’ sake, to give them the time to acclimate to having someone new in the house every day and not just on weekends. And I’d have to become Jill Biden, senator’s wife. It was all too much.

Joe Biden proposed again and again over two years of dating. Before the fifth try, Jill Biden said he finally set an ultimatum before leaving for a trip to South Africa in 1977:

“Look,” he said. “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.” His blue eyes, normally alight, seemed clouded with gray. “I’m too much in love with you to just be friends.”

I had known this moment would come. He’d first proposed almost two years before. Of course he wouldn’t wait forever. We stood for a moment looking at each other, and I nodded.

“When I come back,” he said, “I need an answer, yes or no. You don’t have to tell me when. You just have to tell me if.”

“Okay,” I told him. And then he was gone.
The evening Joe got back from South Africa, he didn’t drive home from the airport but came straight to my apartment. [...] I invited him in, but even after the long flight, he had no intention of relaxing for a moment. He stood firm in my foyer and fixed his eyes on me. “I want to know your answer,” he said.

I could see that he didn’t want to lose me, but he would walk away for his boys. There was concern in the corners of his eyes, a sternness, and I wondered if the fears that were still nagging at the back of my mind were as visible. But even in the tension of that small entryway, I could feel his love, and I knew it was forever, unconditional. I knew that he and the boys had my heart, and we were too intertwined now to protect ourselves from each other. Marriage license or not, we were already a family.

I looked at him and quietly said, “Yes.”

Given that this account of the proposals comes directly from Jill Biden’s book, we rate this claim as “True.”

Nur Nasreen Ibrahim is a reporter with experience working in television, international news coverage, fact checking, and creative writing.

Article Tags