26 October 2022

Leeton's Iannellis celebrate a 30-year marriage of never being apart

| Oliver Jacques
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Joe and Maria Iannelli start in front of garage.

Joe and Maria Iannelli hate being apart. Photo: Oliver Jacques.

To be married to someone for 30 years is an achievement in itself – but to do so when you’ve spent 24 hours a day living, working and sleeping together is something truly unique. That’s 262,080 consecutive hours with the same person, minus only the occasional day or two apart.

Leeton’s Joe and Maria Iannelli celebrated their pearl wedding anniversary this month, on 4 October. For their entire marriage, the couple have worked side by side at Ianelli’s Tractors and Parts, the family business.

“There was one time she went away for the weekend and I went crazy, I kept saying, ‘When is she coming back?’ – we try and do everything together,” Joe said.

“People always ask how we manage to do it – but for us it’s normal. My parents grew up together, Dad had an orchard farm and Mum was always with him.”

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It was in the late 1980s that Joe fell in love with Maria’s voice, even though he didn’t see her in the flesh until years later. Running his trucking parts business, he often spoke on the phone to Maria Patane, a young woman who worked for a supplier in Griffith.

“I liked her, but always assumed she was married to the business owner, so I never did anything. But after two years I found out she was single, so I pretended I was out of brake fluid just so I had an excuse to go to Griffith to meet her. When I did, I was like ‘wow’. A friend told me anyone who marries her is a very lucky bloke, and he was right,” Joe said.

“We weren’t allowed to date, because our parents were strict Italians. But we did sneak around to manage to see each other.”

After getting married at the Yoogali Club in 1992, the couple had three daughters: Gabriella, Alexandria and Bianca. Their business has since endured some tough times, including three major droughts, floods and a pandemic.

Photo of their children

The three children, Gabby, Alex and Bianca. Photo: Supplied.

“The Millennium Drought was really tough but we got through it … I hear people [talk about tough times] and they say, ‘It took a toll on our marriage’. I never understood that, it’s not how it’s supposed to be. Difficult times always brought us closer together,” Joe said.

According to Maria and Joe, the secret to marriage longevity can be summed up in one word: communication.

“We always talk about everything, we never have any secrets. We set aside time to talk, with each other and with the kids,” Maria said.

Joe said it’s important to never hold a grudge.

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“I can’t remember our last argument. Yeah, we have the odd biff. But we just get over it. Life is too short.

“I agree that communication is important too. Every day when the kids came home from school, I would ask them to tell me about their day. Every single day. Before long, they would tell me all about it without me asking about it. Sometimes I’d have to punish them and I’d hate that. Afterwards, they’d run to one corner crying, and I would run to the other, also balling my eyes out.”

When asked the best thing about Maria, he says: “Everything. Best cook. Best cleaner. Best office keeper. She is my minister for finance and defence.”

Joe and Maria are preparing for a holiday to Tasmania, an anniversary present from their three daughters.

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