Ina Garten has made a lasting name for herself in the world of food. She’s owned a successful specialty food store, written several cookbooks, and become a well-known television personality on the Food Network.
And through it all, she’s had a very important person by her side: her husband of 52 years, Jeffrey. Their relationship started when they were both quite young and Jeffrey caught a glimpse of her, and he had a thought he just couldn’t shake.
Ina Garten and Jeffrey’s love story
In 1966, Jeffrey was a student at Dartmouth College. Today reports that Ina was still a high school student when she came to visit her brother on campus. She caught Jeffrey’s eye, and it seems that he was smitten from the start.
“He saw me walking around the campus, and he said to his roommate, ‘I wonder who that girl is,’” Ina explained.
He couldn’t get her out of his head, so he sent her a letter, including a picture of himself. She loved the gesture, and six months later the two went out on their first date. They continued to date steadily for the next few years, even as Ina graduated from high school and went off to college at Syracuse University.
In 1968, they were married. But although their life together had just begun, their time apart wasn’t over.
Ina Garten’s long-distance relationship
According to People, shortly after the wedding, Jeffrey was sent on an Army deployment to Thailand. It was hard for the couple to be apart so soon after tying the knot, but he worked hard to maintain their connection.
He wrote to her every day of their year-long separation. Ina saved every letter he wrote, and she still re-reads them occasionally. This special way of staying close would come in handy over the years because it wouldn’t be the last time their life would keep them apart.
In the ’80s, Jeffrey’s job moved him to Japan. Ina had recently opened her specialty food store The Barefoot Contessa, so she couldn’t pick up everything and leave with him. They spent as much time as possible traveling to see each other, but again letters were a big part of how they stayed connected. Jeffrey faxed Ina notes every morning, so she didn’t have to wait for the mail.
Even today, Jeffrey’s work takes him away from their home in the Hamptons a few days each week. Fortunately, modern technology makes it easier for them to stay in contact.
“When we’re not together, I’ll send her five or six texts per day,” Jeffrey explains. “I love looking at her schedule. I can envision where she is and what she’s doing, and it doesn’t feel like we’re apart. If I could be with her seven days a week, 24 hours a day, that would be my ideal.”
Their marriage is perfect for them
Clearly, the couple has done something right to still be so smitten with each other after more than 52 years.
One of the choices they’ve made is not to have children, which gave them the freedom to focus on their careers and each other. Ina has said that she feels content with this decision, saying they wouldn’t have been able to have the life they do if they had kids.
Another special thing about their marriage goes back to all those letters Jeffrey wrote to his bride. In one, he told her that he wanted to take her to Paris someday. He lived up to that promise, and they’ve spent a great deal of time in the romantic city. In fact, they celebrate their anniversary there every year.
Over five decades ago, Jeffrey caught sight of Ina, and he just had to know who she was. All these years and letters later, it seems that he still finds her fascinating.
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