Bill Gates And Melinda Gates Announce They Are Getting Divorced — What We Know About Why & What’s Next

Photo: Bill Gates' YouTube
Melinda and Bill Gates

Bill and Melinda Gates announced on Monday that they’re getting a divorce.

The two released a shared message via their respective Twitter accounts.

The message states, in part, that they “no longer believe we can grow together as a couple.” 

The pair has been married for 27 years and together they run the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. They also have three children. As of right now, they plan to continue to work together at the foundation. 

Why are Bill and Melinda Gates getting divorced?

From wild rumors to the handiwork of internet super sleuths backtracking through every quote and circumstance, social media is buzzing with thoughts on the pair’s separation. 

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In 2019, after Jeff Bezos finalized his own divorce, Melinda told Fox Business the secrets to her lasting marriage to Bill. “We’ve just gotten to a point in life where Bill and I can both laugh about more things,” she said at the time. 

She admitted then that sometimes things were “incredibly hard,” and that she occasionally had the thought: “Can I do this?” 

The takeaway, back then, was that patience was key, and overlooking the minor issues you have with your partner is the secret to lasting success. It’s very possible that those issues either weren’t so minor or could no longer be overlooked. 

Melinda Gates was once in an abusive relationship.

In her book, “The Moment of Lift: How Empowering Women Changes the World,” Gates wrote about the abusive relationship she found herself in before meeting Bill.

She revealed certain things about the relationship that affected her for a long time after. “It killed my voice and my self-esteem for years,” she said of her experience. In her role as a public figure and philanthropist, she wanted to spread awareness of abuse and the fact that it can happen to anyone at any time. 

Because of her experience, which she shares with one-third of all women, she insisted on being an equal partner in her marriage with Bill. 

Bill Gates has become an increasingly popular internet meme in the past year.

Rumors about Bill Gates generally spread around the web like wildfire. Most recently, conspiracy theorists began pushing the completely unsubstantiated claim that Gates was behind the Covid-19 vaccines, and he was using them to implant tracking devices into the population. 

Many wealthy individuals on the political left are targets of conspiracies that involve global cabals of socialist baby-eaters, or similar fears. Whether it’s their celebrity status, their wealth, the world views, or some combination of those things, Gates has always been a favored target among them. 

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A question on the website Quora from several years ago poses the idea that Gates may have forged a deal with his wife that allowed him to see his mistress in exchange for his go-ahead to run the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

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Not only does the query provide no evidence of impropriety, but they also seem to imply that Melinda Gates couldn’t possibly run a foundation without her husband’s help, which is an extremely problematic viewpoint, and one that she worked hard to squash from the start. 

The Gates's divorce is what's known as a "gray divorce," a term for couples divorcing later in life.

Couples who form lasting relationships over a long period of time are less likely to divorce. Those over the age of 50 have seen their rate of divorce double in the last few decades, but it’s still much lower than average. 

By 2015, the divorce rate in couples over 50 was 10 in 1,000, compared to 24 in 1,000 for couples aged 25-39. Bill is 65, and Melinda is 56. 

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Investing in relationships over time can be challenging. Couples grow apart, discover new identities over time, and are constantly presented with new distractions, challenges, and opportunities. Sometimes children leaving the house can remind parents that they have to figure out how to get along again. Other bumps in the road like retirement or loss of romance can cause the strongest relationships to redefine themselves or crumble. 

What's next for Bill and Melinda Gates?

The couple hasn’t released many details just yet. They’ll have to sift through their $130 billion net worth and divide out assets that each possesses. Like any divorce, it’s going to be a painful and tedious process. In the case of gray divorces, that process involves untangling an entire lifetime spent together.

Divorcing after such a long time with another person by your side can have traumatic effects on various aspects of your life. It can negatively impact your relationships with your children, relatives, and friends. In Bill and Melinda’s case, the finances are likely not going to be an issue, but the personal relationships might.

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Kevin Lankes, MFA, is an editor and author. His fiction and nonfiction have appeared in Here Comes Everyone, Pigeon Pages, Owl Hollow Press, The Huffington Post, The Riverdale Press, and more.