Bill-Melinda Gates divorce: Power (ex) couple Melinda and Bill Gates have called it quits after 27 years of marriage. The news of Gates’ divorce has stumped many and as it follows Jeff Bezos and MacKenzie Scott’s high profile separation, it has yet again raised questions about marriage, prosperity, love, partnership and equality. What can guarantee a successful marriage, if not wealth and prosperity? What’s the point of advocating equality in a relationship, if that cannot prevent it from falling apart?
But here’s the thing, as far as championing equality goes, it has more to do with you being a good person and a partner, than ensuring that your marriage works. Endorsement of equality can’t be rooted in the appeasement of your partner or as a safety net for your relationship. But sadly, this is the exact argument that is used to discredit the drive for equality when a seemingly progressive couple chooses to part ways.
In a joint statement, Bill and Melinda Gates said, “We continue to share a belief in that mission and will continue our work together at the foundation, but we no longer believe we can grow together as a couple in this next phase of our lives.”
We do not know why Melinda and Bill Gates chose to end their relationship. Another thing we must acknowledge now is that longevity of any relationship can not be always seen as a mark of success. Two people can be married unhappily for decades, resenting each other, or feeling nothing for their life partner. Can we call such a marriage a successful one?
Can’t a marriage be seen as a successful one, despite coming to an end, if it causes two people to grow personally and professionally if they raise a family together, be allies to one another and ensure that separation doesn’t result in hostility?
The bit about growing together as a couple from the Gates’ post announcing their separation made me look up an old statement from 2015 that I read. “He’s had to learn how to be an equal, and I’ve had to learn how to step up and be an equal,” Melinda Gates had written in a letter that was signed by her and her now-former husband.
So can we argue that while they may be going their separate ways, Bill and Melinda may have learned to be better allies to each other in this marriage?
Perhaps that’s how modern marriages work. Believing in equality is no longer seen as a sort of sacrifice of ideology you make for your partner, which in turn earns you their life-long alliance. It is a virtue that makes up for the foundation of a relationship, a quality that makes you compatible, and gives you a common goal to work on.
However, there is much more to a relationship, and not all matters of the heart can be set aside, even if you believe in same set of virtues. If two people feel stuck in a relationship, see no growth or future together then it makes no sense for them to drag it on, simply because they believe in a common goal.
Did Bill and Melinda Gates have a successful marriage, that’s a question for the estranged couple to answer. What we, who tend to project celebrity relationships in our own lives need to introspect perhaps is our understanding of equality in relationships. Equality in a marriage is every person’s right, they shouldn’t have to feel obliged to their partner when they have it. They shouldn’t even feel obliged to make a failing marriage work just because they are on the same page with their partner when it comes to equality.
So why must we still strive to ensure equality in our relationship- because that is the right thing to do. It is not an obligation, it is what good people do, without attaching any terms and conditions to it.
The views expressed are the author’s own.