LILY Letter 10: Bill & Melinda Gates and the Gray Divorce

June 15, 2021

Microsoft founder Bill Gates and his wife of 27 years, Melinda Gates, recently announced their divorce. This has shocked the world because the Gates seemed like the epitome of a best-friends marriage, united by three children and their joint leadership of the world's largest charitable foundation.

We don’t claim to know anything about the Gates’ divorce. We are, however, increasingly aware of a crisis point many couples reach after about 25 years of marriage when the kids are raised, careers may be winding down, and couples may look at each other and say, "Who are you?" Life can become all about the kids, the bills, the business, and other things. Couples drift apart. This phenomenon is known as the “Gray Divorce.”

Money can help take some of the worry out of life. But if the richest couple in the world is divorcing, there has to be more to making marriage work than having enough money. Here are a few suggestions:

1. Prioritize the marital relationship above all other relationships. Intentionally turn toward your partner.

2. Stay friends. With all of the busyness of life, don't forget to keep playing. If you run a business together, as the Gates did (and we don't know their circumstances), that might give you more opportunities to interact. But none of us wants everything to be about the bottom line.

3. Take time for personal development. New discoveries and growth as a person better enable you to handle the difficulties that come along, and keep things interesting for your partner. Being intelligent and educated doesn't guarantee marital bliss. However, a lifetime of commitment to personal growth and human relationships can positively impact your companionship.

4. Be intentional about maintaining passion and sexual connection. We want to love and be loved passionately and freely. Once novelty and newness have worn off, this area of life requires more purposeful attention. Don't "outgrow" passion or you may outgrow your marriage.

We can never judge another person’s divorce accurately. It is better to offer love and compassion. Sometimes divorce is the most loving choice. We can assume good intent and refuse to judge or pick sides. To learn more about “divorce stories” and how to choose a perspective that best serves you and future relationships, listen to our recent podcast.

LILY Pod Episode 12: Divorce Stories

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