Thrive Takes//

This Detail from Jeff Bezos’s Divorce Announcement Deserves Way More Attention Than It’s Getting

Everyone is focusing on their assets, but here's the more interesting thing.

attends the 2018 Vanity Fair Oscar Party hosted by Radhika Jones at Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts on March 4, 2018 in Beverly Hills, California.
attends the 2018 Vanity Fair Oscar Party hosted by Radhika Jones at Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts on March 4, 2018 in Beverly Hills, California.

The world’s richest couple are taking a page out of the amicable breakup playbooks of Gwyneth Paltrow and Chris Martin, Jennifer Lopez and Marc Anthony, and Lenny Kravitz and Lisa Bonet. Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos and his wife of 25 years, novelist MacKenzie Bezos, shared a joint statement on Twitter revealing that they are divorcing while remaining friends “after a long period of loving exploration and trial separation.”

Perhaps the most poignant line in their announcement is this: “If we had known we would separate after 25 years, we would do it all again.” The surprising statement highlights an important point we should all consider. That the end of a relationship does not equal failure.

“It’s natural that people may feel a sense of failure and wonder what they could have done better,” Don Cole, Clinical Director of the Gottman Institute, tells Thrive. “The ones who are able to move on constructively shift the focus to the new possibilities for the future after the divorce. They make plans for reconnecting with old friends or family, pursuing career, business or educational opportunities that might have been set aside for years,” he says. “People need to be be intentional about this process.”

According to Bezos and MacKenzie, the two will “continue [their] shared lives as friends.” “We feel incredibly lucky to have found each other and deeply grateful for every one of the years we have been married to each other,” they write.

Even though they’re divorcing, Bezos and Mackenzie will keep working together on projects. “We’ve had such a great life together as a married couple, and we also see wonderful futures ahead, as parents, friends, partners in ventures and projects, and as individuals pursuing ventures and adventures,” they revealed. “Though the labels might be different, we remain a family, and we remain cherished friends.”

Yes, there is a lot at stake in divorce, and perhaps even more so for Bezos, the world’s richest man as of 2018, per Forbes. It’s unknown if the couple signed a prenup when they married in 1993, but MacKenzie was with Bezos before he started Amazon out of their garage (after which she worked for the company as an accountant). There’s also the fact that in Washington, where they currently reside, assets are split 50-50 because it’s a community property state. Mackenzie could be legally entitled to half of Bezos’ Amazon earnings, since he made it during their marriage. If that’s the case, then Bezos would no longer be the world’s richest man (Bill Gates would be) and MacKenzie would become the world’s richest woman, per Vox.

Either way, remaining amicable is key in their divorce — as it is in any other one. Achieving that, however, isn’t as easy as it sounds. In one way, staying amicable with your ex is a lot like staying married: it hinges upon mutual respect, as well as “admiration and affection,” Cole says. “Successful couples are good friends, they manage conflict well, they share a sense of meaning, they build trust and they are committed to the relationship.”

Even if some or all of those systems fade and two people cease being a couple, it’s still possible to bounce back into a respectful, and even a friendly partnership throughout divorce, Cole says, adding these three essentials to maintaining a thriving relationship despite a split

1. Give up any need to assign blame to your former partner.

2. Speak respectfully to and about you ex.

3. Focus on common goals you still share, such as raising children (The Bezos’s share 4).

This notable couple seems to already have these down.

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