Bill and Melinda Gates’ divorce announcement came as a surprise. (And we’re not surprised by much.) They seem to have it all. 3 incredible children. Massive wealth. A deeply shared mission to enable all people to live happy, productive lives. Only they know the reason behind their statement: “We no longer believe we can grow together as a couple in this next phase of our lives.”
They are a good reminder, yet again, that you really never know what’s going on in someone else’s relationship, and shouldn’t judge your own by it. But they can also help us remember something else: a marriage can have many successes, and still come to an end.
Your definition of success in a marriage doesn’t have to be defined by its longevity.
True, most of us enter into marriage believing it will be forever. And yes, that’s something worth wanting. There are many benefits to sticking it out to the golden years. But if that’s not how yours turns out, it doesn’t in any way mean it was a failure. I have a friend with a theory that marriage should really be a 10-year contract with an option to renew. 😗 People grow and change, needs evolve, and it should not be seen as any sort of “failure” if it doesn’t last forever.
You might be in the thick of it today. Maybe it’s too hard to view your marriage (or the end of it) with any hint of rose-colored glasses. But is it possible that one day you can look back at it through the lens of the accomplishments and the positive things that came from it? They don’t have to have made a worldwide impact like the Gates. Here are a few positives that could have come from your marriage:
-fun and laughter
- a nice home
-great (good? decent?) sex
-a better understanding of what you need in your next relationship
If you’re not there today, tuck this thought away for when you’re ready to consider it. And at least draw some comfort in the knowing that you are far from alone.
We don’t know what all will be involved in untangling the Gates’ financial lives. Certainly they don’t have to think about many of the unique issues that couples their age who are going through a Gray Divorce do. But we do know this: Surely their divorce will be hard emotionally, on them and their children. That can’t be understated and no amount of money or fortune can change it. But in at least some respects, their long-term partnership has been a real success.