Melinda Gates has spoken about how “painful” her divorce from ex-husband Bill Gates was.
The couple got married in 1994 and announced their separation in May 2001, an experience Melinda says was “extremely painful.”
“I had some reasons I just couldn’t stay in that marriage anymore,” she explained in a new interview with Fortune. “But the odd thing about COVID is that it gave me the privacy to do what I needed to do.”
“It’s unbelievably painful, in innumerable ways, but I had the privacy to get through it.”
The couple has 3 children together – Jennifer, 25, Rory, 23, and Phoebe, 19.
They also founded the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation together in 2000, and even after going their separate ways, the former couple continued to run the foundation together – which Melinda said helped her get through it.
“I kept working with the person I was moving away from, and I needed to show up and be my best self every single day,” she continued.
“So even though I might be crying at 9 am and then have to be on a video conference at 10 am with the person I’m leaving, I have to show up and be my best.”
She added that COVID also helped her find strength: “I learned as a leader that I could do it. It reminded me that the foundation calls me to be my best.”
“We work with unbelievable partners around the world who were also struggling during COVID. I was on a video call with a woman who had lost her father, and a week later she’s on a call with me, right?”
‘I certainly believe in forgiveness, so I thought we had worked through some of that,’ she told CBS Mornings back in March, in response to if the divorce was caused by allegations of Bill’s infidelity.
“It wasn’t one moment or one specific thing that happened. There just came a point in time where there was enough there that I realized it just wasn’t healthy, and I couldn’t trust what we had.”