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President Joe Biden and First Lady Dr. Jill Biden have been married 43 years

By Virginia Chamlee
February 14, 2021 07:15 PM
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President Joe Biden and Dr. Jill Biden
From left: First Lady Dr. Jill Biden and President Joe Biden photographed for PEOPLE on Jan. 27 in the White House Blue Room
| Credit: Celeste Sloman

President Joe Biden and First Lady Jill Biden celebrated their first Valentine's Day after moving into the White House.

"The love of my life and the life of my love. Happy Valentine's Day, Jilly," the president, 78, tweeted on Sunday, along with a photo of him embracing her shortly before his Jan. 20 inauguration ceremony.

On Friday, the couple — along with their two German Shepherds, Champ and Major — made an unannounced stop on the White House North Lawn, to tour the heart-themed decorations meant as Valentines for the American people.

The pop-up decorations — which were comprised of oversized pink, white and red hearts with words such as "healing," "strength," and "unity" printed on them — were meant to provide "a little joy, a little hope," the first lady told reporters.

During Friday's tour, the president held off on disclosing what he would be gifting his wife for Valentine's Day, though, saying it was still too early to share. "It's not Valentine's Day, I'm not telling you," he joked about his gift plans.

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Joe and Jill Biden
Credit: Steve Liss/The LIFE Images Collection via Getty

The couple, who has been married for 43 years, often shares their love story, and has spoken of the importance of tradition in their relationship.

The Bidens recently told PEOPLE in a sit-down interview that the president began gifting Mrs. Biden, 69, a corsage for Valentine's Day decades ago — and that the tradition has continued even now.

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

On Jan. 20, Dr. Biden could be seen wearing a wrist corsage for the small family dance party held in the White House Blue Room in lieu of the traditional inaugural balls (which were halted by the administration due to the ongoing novel coronavirus pandemic).

"Every single special occasion," the president explained to PEOPLE about the corsages. "It's important to, and Jill does the same thing, let each other know that, no matter how much time goes by … she goes down the steps and—"

Continuing, Biden put his hand over his heart, tapping: "It still goes a little boom, boom, boom, boom. For real."

The president has long been open about what he calls "a great love affair" with his beloved, whom he married in 1977, five years after he lost his first wife, Neilia, and their baby daughter, Naomi, in a car wreck.

At the time, the young senator was a grieving single dad to two young sons. His wife, who he met in college, went on to become a teacher.

"Jill came along at a really important point and put my family back together," he told PEOPLE in the couple's recent sit-down. "She's the glue that held it together."