Bill, 65, and Melinda Gates, 56, is one of the world’s famous couples for three decades and they have always been truthful about how their relationship worked.
After 27 years of marriage, the couple has announced their divorce in a statement on social media, saying they “no longer believe we can grow together as a couple in this next phase of our lives” but “will continue our work together” at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
Court documents showed that Melinda filed for a divorce and stated in the appeal that their marriage was “irretrievably broken”. The documents also showed that the Gateses do not have a prenuptial agreement in place, but will divide their assets instead according to a separation agreement.
It will not be an easy task as Bill and Melinda’s lives have been strongly connected since the beginning of their relationship.
Here are some of the surprising details of their journey together.
Bill took annual vacations with his ex-girlfriend Winblad. Before he met Melinda after she joined Microsoft as a product manager in 1987, Bill had been dating Ann Winblad, a software entrepreneur, and venture capitalist, according to Time.
He developed a strong bond with Winblad that Bill made sure to keep her in his life after they split in 1987.
Walter Isaacson reported in his 1997 Time story on Bill’s life and career saying:
“Even now, Gates has an arrangement with his wife that he and Winblad can keep one vacation tradition alive, every spring, as they have for more than a decade, Gates spends a long weekend with Winblad at her beach cottage on the Outer Banks of North Carolina, where they ride dune buggies, hang-glide and walk on the beach.”
“We share our thoughts about the world and ourselves,” Winblad also added to Time. “And we marvel about how, as two young overachievers, we began a great adventure on the fringes of a little-known industry and it landed us at the center of an amazing universe.”
Bill may be one of the most successful men on the planet, but Melinda turned him down when he first asked her on a date. Melinda said she was less than impressed when the Microsoft billionaire asked her out.
Melinda recalled in a Facebook post from 2015: “When Bill first asked me out, he said, ‘I was thinking maybe we could go out two weeks from tonight, I told him he wasn’t spontaneous enough for me.”
“He called me an hour later to suggest we get together that night, he asked: ‘Is that spontaneous enough for you?” Melinda wrote in the post.
It turned out to be enough for Melinda who joked in a 2019 Instagram post that Bill had since “gotten a little more spontaneous over the years.”
Melinda revealed in the 2019 Netflix Series Inside Bill’s Brain that she walked in on Bill making a list of pros and cons about whether to marry her.
“I took the idea of marriage very seriously, you know, we cared a lot for each other and there were only two possibilities: Either, we were going to break up or we were going to get married,” Bill explained in the documentary.
“Bill wanted to be married, but he didn’t know whether he could actually commit to it and have Microsoft,” Melinda added.
“When he was having trouble making the decision about getting married, he was incredibly clear that it was not about me. It was about, ‘Can I get the balance right between work and family life?” Melinda told The Sunday Times in April 2019, noting that Bill was upfront about his thought process.
Bill also asked her ex-girlfriend, Winblad’s approval before proposing to Melinda. He recalled to Time in the 1997 story saying: “When I was off on my own thinking about marrying Melinda, I called Ann and asked for her approval.”
After tying the knot on the Hawaiian island of Lanai on Jan. 1, 1994, Bill and Melinda went on to have three kids: son Rory John, 21, and daughters Phoebe Adele, 18, and Jennifer Katharine, 25.
Melinda then chose to be a stay-at-home mom while Bill remained CEO of Microsoft and made sure to have an equal partnership.
“He was surprised, he was definitely surprised. But I said to him, ‘You know, it just doesn’t make sense. You can’t be the CEO and go as hard as you’re going, and somebody has to be at home, right?” Melinda said. “We didn’t want our children raised by somebody else. I said, ‘You know, if we want them to have the values we have, somebody has to be home.”
“It’s absolutely a partnership of equals, It’s important to both of us that the world understands that we are running this place together. This is our joint values being played out in the world.” She added.
And according to Bill, the partnership includes dividing the household chores.
During a 2014 Reddit Ask Me Anything, the billionaire was asked, “What is something you enjoy doing that you think no one would expect from you?”
Bill revealed, “I do the dishes every night. Other people volunteer, but I like the way I do it.”
In a 2019 Instagram video, Melinda revealed that she knew she would likely meet Bill at Microsoft, but she never thought things would go further.
“When I moved to Seattle to take the job at Microsoft… I knew I would meet Bill because the company was small.
But I certainly had no idea that I would fall in love with Bill or that we would get married.” She said. “Even when we were dating early on, I never thought we would get married, that’s definitely been a big surprise. ”
“That’s been one of the best surprises of my life,” Melinda added in the caption of the post.