The news of Bill and Melinda Gates’ divorce has taken the world by storm. The couple are just the latest to join the gray divorce trend where couples who are over 50 years of age seek a divorce. The most shocking thing about the divorce announcement is that no one saw it coming.
On their 26th wedding anniversary in January 1 2020, the couple could not have seemed more in love. In fact, Melinda gushed over how she loved spending her wedding anniversary with her husband.
Bill Gates and Melinda Gates attend Global Champions Tour of Monaco 2017 on June 23, 2017 in Monte-Carlo, Monaco. (Photo by fotopress/Getty Images)
Unfortunately, it appears that one year was enough to change her mind. Even as we process the news of their divorce, here are several lessons that we can learn about marriage.
Financial Stability is a sham
It is not uncommon to hear young people say that they are looking for a financially stable person to settle with. The Gates divorce has all but proven how misguided the notion of financial stability is. Very few people are as financially stable as the Gates. Together, the couple is worth over $ 130 billion yet even their wealth was not enough to keep their marriage.
Beware of the empty nest syndrome
One of the challenges that couples over 50 years of age face is the empty nest syndrome. With this syndrome comes a loss of purpose as the responsibility of raising children is now over. If not handled, the syndrome can gravely affect marriage. The Gates children are all grown; the oldest is 25 while the youngest is 18. Though we may not be able to link the Gates divorce to the empty nest syndrome, it does not nullify the fact the condition is a threat to marriage. One way to protect your marriage from the empty nest syndrome is to find common things that you both enjoy doing. Sometimes, it helps to visit a marriage counsellor to help you reignite the spark in your marriage.
The span of a marriage does not matter
For 27 years, you would think that the Gates would have gotten the hang of how marriage works and that things would not work on autopilot mode. Unfortunately, that is not the case. An hour in marriage is long enough to warrant a divorce and so is a century. The most important thing is to wake up each day determined to make your marriage work and to do everything possible to sustain it.
Support each other
In her book ‘the moment of Lift’ Melinda Gates recounts a moment in 2013 where she requested to be allowed to co-author the annual letter of the Bill and Melinda Gates foundation, a request that Bill denied leading to a fight.
In the years that followed, Melinda has been trying to establish herself in her own right by founding her own company and by positioning herself as a woman’s rights activist. Many see her actions as a journey away from her husband’s shadow that culminated in the divorce.
Again, we are not sure that being in her husband’s shadow led Melinda to seek for a divorce. However, married couples should learn to support each other and lift each other up.
It is no use when one spouse shelves their dream to support the other. No one wants to spend their whole lives in the background. Marriage should be a place of winning together.
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