When Power Couples Divorce

By Mark A. Kellner
Posted May 10, 2021

Even billionaires aren’t immune to divorce.

News services around the world blared the headline: High-tech and philanthropic power couple Bill and Melinda Gates are calling it quits after 27 years and three children: “After a great deal of thought and a lot of work on our relationship, we have made the decision to end our marriage,” The Wall Street Journal quoted the pair’s joint statement. 

Bill Gates, 65, is known as co-founder of Microsoft Corporation, one of the world’s largest computer software companies. Although he stepped away in 2014, relinquishing his last post as board chairman, he remained on the board until last year and holds a stake “worth around $26 billion,” according to the newspaper.

Melinda Gates, 56, born Melinda French, started as a product manager at Microsoft in the 1980s, meeting her future husband, at the time the firm’s CEO, shortly after. A savvy businesswoman in her own right, after marrying Gates, she spent the past two decades working on the couple’s passion project—the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation—believed to be the world’s largest charitable foundation. The group’s goals are to combat inequality, disease, and poverty. So far, it’s pledged more than $1.75 billion to help fight COVID-19, including a promise to produce 100 million doses of the virus’ vaccine for poor nations.


Big Dollars Not Enough?

Their bombshell announcement rocked media outlets among this year’s crowded pool of celebrity splits, from reality TV stars to professional athletes to, perhaps most famously, music entrepreneur Kanye West and socialite Kim Kardashian.

It also echoed another tech mogul’s 2019 divorce, that of Amazon founder Jeff Bezos from author MacKenzie Scott. Interestingly, it turns out that these billionaires have more in common than making top-10 lists. They also employed the same divorce attorneys. Scott’s attorney, Ted Billbe, is now one of Bill Gates’ lead attorneys; and Bezos was represented by Sherri Anderson, now part of the Melinda Gates legal team.

Scott’s divorce from Bezos made her one of the richest women in the world; according to a report by CNN, she has “a net worth of $59 billion.” Bezos himself recovered from the settlement to climb back up to the number one spot; he is currently the richest person in the world “with an estimated worth of $194 billion.” As for Gates, he “is ranked the world’s fourth richest person by Forbes with an estimated net worth of $130 billion.” His soon-to-be ex-wife will doubtless make the list as well.

But money, as the old saying goes, can’t buy happiness. History is rife with examples of high living that failed to prevent—and more often than not, caused—ruin. Egypt’s King Farouk, a notorious spendthrift twice divorced, lost his throne in a military coup and died in exile. The late Howard Hughes, also a two-time divorcé, was at one time the world’s richest man. But the playboy, known equally for his extravagant lifestyle and obsessive-compulsive disorder, spent the majority of his final years secluded in a Las Vegas hotel suffering from what apparently was paranoia.

And, of course, the Bible recounts the triumphs and regrets of King Solomon, reputed to have been the wealthiest individual who ever lived. “He had seven hundred wives, princesses, and three hundred concubines” (1 Kings 11:3) and “surpassed all the kings of the earth in riches and wisdom” (10:23). But at the end of his life, he realized he had chosen the so-called “good life” over the abundant life God offered him—and he bitterly repented.


The Whole Duty of Man

Solomon’s book of Ecclesiastes is a warning to those tempted to indulge in the cares of this world. In it the king offered this telling advice: “Live joyfully with the wife whom you love all the days of your vain life which He has given you under the sun, all your days of vanity; for that is your portion in life, and in the labor which you perform under the sun” (9:9).

He also stated, “He who loves silver will not be satisfied with silver; nor he who loves abundance, with increase. This also is vanity” (5:10). Notice that much of what Solomon examined he found to be “vanity.” His wealth, his achievements, his own selfish desires, all of it came to naught, “for there is no work or device or knowledge or wisdom in the grave where you are going” (9:10)—indeed, where we are all going. No bank account can change that.

 

It seems like a depressing end for a tired, fallen king. But the last passage is what makes sense of it all: “Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter” (12:13), Solomon finally divulged. “Fear God and keep His commandments, for this is man’s all,” he advised. That’s it. There aren’t any bells or whistles or billion-dollar mansions involved. We must simply love God. Loving God is what makes life worthwhile.

Keys for a Happy Marriage

Nowadays, people are wondering if lifelong marriage is even achievable—the Bible promises that it is! Not only that, but it takes you on a most beautiful journey. Our free, online study “Keys for a Happy Marriage” offers Scripture-backed principles you can use to not only turn around a marriage facing difficulty but also improve an already healthy one. 

And for what the marriage covenant represents, check out an excerpt of Pastor Doug Batchelor’s book The Bible on Marriage, Divorce, & Remarriage.

Lastly, find out how Solomon’s conclusion actually leads to the greatest gift of all—God’s gift of eternal life. Watch our free, online presentation “The Book of Life,” also by Pastor Doug. Learn how God can transform a life of vanity into the richest of treasures.

Mark Kellner
Mark A. Kellner is a staff writer for Amazing Facts International. He is a veteran journalist whose work has been published in Religion News Service, The Washington Times, and numerous computer magazines.
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