"I really couldn't stay in that marriage," said Melinda Gates.

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Melinda French Gates is talking publicly for the first time about her "unbelievably traumatic" divorce from Bill Gates.

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Melinda Gates

I simply couldn't continue in that marriage for a number of reasons.

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The strange thing about COVID, though, is that it afforded me the seclusion I needed to get the job done.

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Melinda Gates

Although it is really difficult in several ways, I was able to go through it because of my solitude.

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Melinda, 66, and Bill, who were married in 1994, were separated in May 2021 after 27 years of marriage. Jennifer, 25, Rory, 23, and Phoebe, 19,

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the couple's three children, were always Melinda's "primary worry" during the split.

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The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, which was established by the ex-couple in 2000 and is being administered by them

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today, was essential in French Gates' ability to cope with her feelings, according to French Gates.

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Melinda Gates

I continued to work with the person I was trying to avoid, so I had to come in each day and give it my all.

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Melinda Gates

So even though I could be in tears at 9 in the morning and have to be on a video conference with the person I'm leaving at 10 in the morning,

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I have to go in and give it my all.

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Melinda Gates

I discovered that I could do it as a leader. It served as a reminder that the foundation expects my best effort.

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Though it's unknown how much French Gates was aware of this activity at the time,

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it was revealed in 2021 that Bill had a protracted romance with a Microsoft employee in 2000 and that he apparently asked out numerous women in the company while he was married.

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