There are plenty of men who have arrangements with their exes, but most don’t go around telling their wives — and Time magazine — all about it. Man, the rich really are different…
What the heck are we talking about??
Since Bill and Melinda Gates announced their divorce, the public have been hungry for deets on exactly what happened. Obviously there was some problem money couldn’t solve, that’s for sure.
While so far we’ve gotten precious few details, we do know Melinda called the marriage “irretrievably broken” in her filing. And more recently we’ve learned from a recent TMZ report that “virtually everyone in the family took Melinda’s side” because they “were furious at Bill for various things they claim he had done.” Wow, that really hints at this split being way juicier than we expected. But what kind of “things” are we talking about??
Well, in the internet’s scramble to figure that out, an old Time profile from early in their marriage has resurfaced. In the 1997 article, Bill discusses an “arrangement” he had kept with his ex-girlfriend, one Melinda ostensibly gave her blessing.
We’re talking about Ann Winblad, a software pioneer he started dating in 1984. The two reportedly split due to her desire to get married and have children; she was five years older than Gates. Their breakup was in 1987 — the year Melinda (then French) joined Microsoft.
Ann, as it turns out, remained incredibly important to him even as his relationship with Melinda got more serious. He told the magazine:
“When I was off on my own thinking about marrying Melinda, I called Ann and asked for her approval.”
So it wasn’t long before Bill was married, just to someone else — but moving on feels like the wrong way to put what was happening here. Because even a decade later Bill and Ann were still vacationing together!
As journalist Walter Isacson reported in the mag:
“Even now, Gates has an arrangement with his wife that he and Winblad can keep one vacation tradition alive. Every spring, as they have for more than a decade, Gates spends a long weekend with Winblad at her beach cottage on the Outer Banks of North Carolina, where they ride dune buggies, hang-glide and walk on the beach.”
Both openly discussed the unusual tradition, Bill saying:
“We can play putt-putt while discussing biotechnology.”
“We share our thoughts about the world and ourselves. And we marvel about how, as two young overachievers, we began a great adventure on the fringes of a little-known industry and it landed us at the center of an amazing universe.”
OK, that sounds swell and all, but… they dated. Would YOU be chill with your husband, the man you had been with for a decade, going on weekend-long getaways with his ex?
It’s unclear how long this arrangement lasted, but we do know Ann did eventually move on for real. She’s now happily married to Alex Kline, the younger brother of Oscar winner Kevin Kline. The two got married just six years ago — could the annual weekend getaways really have gone on until then? We do know for a fact Winblad’s beach cottage where they met up has been available for rent since 2016 — a “retreat” for “beach lovers” per the rental listing, according to the NY Post.
Hey, maybe this has nothing to do with the breakup. Or maybe Melinda was not so OK with it as she made it seem — and put an end to the vacays shortly after the article came out.
It certainly seems like ancient history at this point, but it is a window into what may have been an odd marriage indeed.
What do YOU think? Would you let your spouse keep this kind of arrangement?? Let us know in the comments (below)!
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