Bill and Melinda Gates announced they were divorcing on 3 May after almost three decades together – but prior to getting married Bill made a “pros and cons list” about the decision.
In a joint statement issued on Monday, the couple said “after a great deal of thought” and “a lot of work” they had made the decision to end their marriage of 27 years.
“We no longer believe we can grow together as a couple in the next phase of our lives. We ask for space and privacy for our family as we begin to navigate this new life,” they wrote.
Bill Gates and Melinda French married in 1994 in Hawaii.
Following the announcement, people have been sharing a story from early on in the couple’s relationship.
The 2019 Netflix series, Inside Bill’s Brain, focused on the billionaire Microsoft co-founder and featured appearances from his philanthropist wife, with whom he created the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation in 2000.
In one scene, prior to their marriage, Melinda recalls walking into Bill’s bedroom where he was creating a pros and cons list for getting hitched. “He had to make a decision,” she recalls.
“I took the idea of marriage very seriously,” replies Bill in the documentary footage.
Bill “wanted to be married, but he didn’t know whether he could actually commit to it and [run] Microsoft”, Melinda continued.
Bill explained that they had reached a crossroads in their relationship: “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.”
However, the couple did not detail what was on the list.
Bill and Melinda Gates met shortly after she joined Microsoft as a product manager in 1987 when they sat next to each other at a business dinner in New York.
The couple have three children together; Jennifer, 25, Rory, 21, and Phoebe, 19.
In the Netflix show, Bill described his wife, who is nine years younger, as “a lot like me in that she is optimistic and she is interested in science. She is better with people than I am”.
In 2013, Melinda told the Seattle Times: “I met Bill when we were both still young. I was 23 and he was 32, and he was still building the company. I saw what that took.
“So while the media would talk about him in one way, that wasn’t the person I knew…so we grew during those times together.”