Marriage Therapists Speculate About Why a Long Term Couple Like Bill and Melinda Gates Would Divorce

Bang Media International Limited

When a couple has been married for decades with seemingly no marital issues, it’s shocking when they announce they are getting divorced. That’s why the world was stunned when Bill and Melinda Gates announced that after 27 years of marriage they were getting a divorce.

The Gateses have 3 adult children, their own foundation that’s literally changing the world, and billions of dollars. It seemed like they had it all, including love, but something must have been going wrong behind closed doors.

While there is no hint about an affair, their official statement about why they are getting divorced alludes to the fact that they tried and failed to make their marriage work. In a joint statement, the couple explained, “After a great deal of thought and a lot of work on our relationship, we have made the decision to end our marriage.” They added, “we no longer believe we can grow together as a couple in this next phase of our lives.”

When they say, “this next phase of our lives,” they may be referring to empty nest syndrome. Their youngest child is 18, and they are no longer in the child raising phase of their marriage. John Gottman runs a practice with his wife Julie and wrote the book “The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work.” He explained that when there are no longer young kids at home, “It’s a time when they reassess what the relationship holds for each of them as individuals. If part of the relationship is eroded, the romance, the passion, the collective adventure, then a lot of couples take that as a time to end the relationship amicably.”

If the Gateses found that their relationship had “eroded,” and it sounds like they did, the fact that they are so very well set financially makes getting a divorce easier than when money is tight. Scott Stanley is a research professor and co-director of the Center for Marital and Family Studies at the University of Denver. He explained, “When people have loads of alternatives, including financially, they are going to find it easier to let go when the distance has grown too large.”

The couple had $130 billion collectively, and no prenup. Bill Gates has already transferred $1.8 billion in stock to his ex-wife.

Besides empty nest syndrome and the financial means to divorce without wanting for anything, another reason the couple might have decided to call it quits it that they didn’t prioritize each other. Julie Gottman points out the fact that they are so busy with their foundation may have driven them apart. “They actually have had the courage as well as the resources to tackle the biggest problems we suffer from in humanity. How do you pull yourself away from trying to address those never-ending problems in order to just prioritize you and me?”

While we can speculate about why the Gateses called it quits, only Bill and Melinda know the truth.

Why do you think Bill and Melinda Gates decided to get a divorce? Were you surprised when they announced that they were getting divorced after 27 years of marriage? Do you know anyone who has gotten divorced after decades of marriage?