I don’t know about you, but I would be a little concerned if my husband were to spend a long weekend once a year with an ex-girlfriend.
Americans were surprised to hear Monday that power couple Bill and Melinda Gates had decided to call it quits after 27 years of marriage.
— Bill Gates (@BillGates) May 3, 2021
We’ll likely never know the reason for the split, nor should we.
But a new report in the Daily Mail discusses a rather unconventional arrangement between them that dates back to the beginning of their marriage: The tech billionaire reserved the right to spend one long weekend every year with his former girlfriend, venture capitalist Ann Winblad, at her beach house on the Outer Banks of North Carolina.
Winblad is also married; her husband is San Francisco private investigator Edward Alex Kline, according to the Daily Mail.
I’m not suggesting that an understanding that had been agreed to decades earlier suddenly became so intolerable to Melinda Gates that she filed for divorce. But it is a rather odd arrangement, isn’t it?
Bill Gates, 65, met Winblad, now 70, at a Ben Rosen-Esther Dyson computer conference in 1984. The couple broke up in 1987, but they’ve maintained a friendship ever since. Winblad was ready for marriage, but Gates, consumed with building his empire, was not, the Daily Mail reported.
Gates met Melinda French in 1987, although it would be seven more years until he was ready for the altar.
In an interview with Time magazine in 1997, Gates said, “When I was off on my own thinking about marrying Melinda, I called Ann and asked for her approval.”
According to the Daily Mail, Melinda Gates, now 56, has said in previous interviews that during his decision-making process, he “even made a list of pros and cons for marriage on a whiteboard.”
The Time article went into some detail about Gates’ relationship with Winblad. “They were kindred minds as well as spirits,” it said. “On a vacation to Brazil, he took James Watson’s 1,100-page textbook, Molecular Biology of the Gene, and they studied bioengineering together.
“On another vacation, to a Santa Barbara, California, ranch, she took tapes of Richard Feynman’s lectures at Cornell, and they studied physics.”
He told Time, “We can play putt-putt while discussing biotechnology.” Sounds romantic, huh?
Winblad was also interviewed for the article. She said she had told Gates that “Melinda would be a good match for him because she had intellectual stamina.”
In 1999, Bill Gates “partnered with Ann on Hummer Winblad Venture Partners,” the Daily Mail reported.
— Daily Mail US (@DailyMail) May 4, 2021
When he married Melinda in 1994, there was no prenuptial agreement, even though Gates had already made his first billion dollars before they met.
Demanding to spend one weekend every year with your ex-girlfriend is a big ask, especially coming from a man who tries to promote himself as such a righteous person.
Clearly, this is not the type of thing Christian spouses should do. It could give the appearance of evil even if nothing improper is going on.
The Western Journal reached out to Gates Foundation for comment but did not immediately receive a response.
The Gateses have three children: Jennifer, 24, Rory, 21, and Phoebe, 18.
The eldest referred to the family’s “challenging stretch” on Instagram, writing, “By now many of you have heard the news that my parents are separating. It’s been a challenging stretch of time for our whole family. I’m still learning how to best support my own process and emotions as well as family members at this time, and am grateful for the space to do so.”
Jennifer Gates added that she “won’t personally comment further on anything around the separation. Thank you for understanding our desire for privacy.”
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