Bill and Melinda Gates have recently announced their divorce after being married for 27 years. This has inevitably drawn much media attention around divorce and separation caused by pressures of the pandemic.
The couple announced their divorce via Twitter, stating:
"We no longer believe we can grow together as a couple".
"After a great deal of thought and a lot of work on our relationship, we have made the decision to end our marriage".
Bill Gates, the co-founder of Microsoft, is the fourth wealthiest person in the world, worth roughly around £89bn. He and Melinda have three children and together jointly run the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
The media frenzy around the Gates' divorce highlights the undercurrent of separations arising as a result of the extraordinary circumstances of the past year. Divorce applications have reportedly increased both in the UK and globally.
Lockdown created unprecedented strains on relationships, as people faced stark changes in the dynamics within their relationship. Spending vast quantities of concentrated time together was found to make partners habits increasingly irritable, which was compounded by many other factors, including general feelings of stress caused by health, finances or job security. The shifts in household dynamics and increased stresses arguably were inevitably due to cause hurdles to many couples.
The charity Relate conducted a survey in July 2020 which found that 8% of people said lockdown had made them wish to end their relationship; however, more positively, 43% said lockdown had brought them closer.
The extract of the statement from the Gates' that they "no longer believe they can grow together" is perhaps a statement that will resonate with a number of people who find themselves no longer feeling fulfilled by their relationship with their partner. The pressure-cooker environment caused by the pandemic may have unfortunately acted as a catalyst for couples, who are now deciding to draw their relationship to a close.