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Key Words: Melinda Gates: Being married to Bill Gates is ‘incredibly hard’ sometimes

Gates also reveals that the Microsoft co-founder “needs a little training” in work-life balance. Read More...

It takes patience being married to the second richest man in the world.

Melinda Gates celebrated her 25th wedding anniversary with billionaire Microsoft MSFT, +0.78% co-founder Bill Gates on New Year’s Day, and she revealed in a recent interview with The Sunday Times that their marriage has been “incredibly hard” sometimes.

“We’ve just gotten to a point in life where Bill and I can both laugh about more things. And, believe me, I can remember some days that were so incredibly hard in our marriage where you thought, ‘Can I do this?’”

Melinda Gates

One recurring problem was Bill’s struggle to find work-life balance. She recalled being angry with him years ago because the voracious reader was paging through a book about Winston Churchill instead of helping her get their three children ready to go out, or packing up the car.

She said that being patient helped them both weather the ups and downs. In fact, work-life balance was an issue before they even tied the knot. He reportedly worked 16-hour days for five years. “‘When he was having trouble making the decision about getting married, he was incredibly clear that it was not about me, it was about ‘Can I get the balance right between work and family life?”’ she said.

“He needs a little training, and he’d tell you that too.”

Melinda Gates

Melinda, 54, who is No. 6 on the Forbes list of power women (and named “the most powerful woman in philanthropy” as co-chair of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation) spoke while promoting her new book, “The Moment of Lift: How Empowering Women Changes the World.” The book also shares tidbits from her personal life, such as how she won Bill over by beating him at a math game when she began working at Microsoft.

“Look, I wasn’t going for a certain type, obviously, when I fell in love with Bill, right? But I think I was a little bit predisposed because I’m a computer science major, so when I was in college the people I spent a lot of time with were young men and a lot of them were geeky.”

Melinda Gates

And it has been important to Melinda to raise their three children to live as “normal” lives as possible. Melinda left Microsoft to raise them as outside of the spotlight as possible, for example, and enrolled them in school under her maiden name. And even though Bill’s worth just recently surpassed $100 billion, their three children — Jennifer, 22; Rory, 19; and Phoebe, 16 — will inherit “just” $10 million each, she explained.

See: Bill Gates: Being free from worry about financial things is a real blessing

And that can be pretty intimidating for the younger Gates’ dates. Melinda also dished that when their grown children now bring home new boyfriends or girlfriends for the first time, it can get awkward.

“Yes, we try to break the ice, but it’s not the easiest,” she said, recalling one memorable incident when one of their daughters brought a boy home. Turns out, the Gates family has a tradition of going around the table before dinner to share one thing that they are each thankful for. They do this while holding hands — and this new beau was seated next to tech titan Bill. And he had to go last.

“I thought, ‘Oh my God, this boy is going to pass out,’” Melinda said.

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