What we can learn from the Bezos Divorce

Jeff and his wife MacKenzie announced their separation after 25 years of marriage and four children, amongst rumours of infidelity.  This was their joint statement:-

“We want to make people aware of a development in our lives.  As our family and close friends know, after a long period of loving exploration and trial separation, we have decided to divorce and continue our 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.  If we had known we would separate after 25 years, we would do it all again. 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.  Though the labels might be different, we remain a family, and we remain cherished friends.” 

What struck me is that in this difficult time, they were both able to focus, using carefully chosen positive language, on what their marriage had brought and hopes for the future, rather than feelings of anger.

It is easier on a separation to focus on anger and negativity because it is often the strongest emotion.  Finding a positive is incredibly difficult in times of grief.  However, the effort put into this joint vision of how they wanted their separation to be undoubtedly helped them in the financial negotiations that followed the decision to enter into a divorce process.  They used the energy created by positive emotions to navigate their way to agreeing a financial settlement within a short period of time which enabled them to move forward.  MacKenzie’s statement said:-

“Grateful to have finished the process of dissolving my marriage with Jeff with support from each other and everyone who reached out to us in kindness, and looking forward to the next phase as co-parents and friends.  Happy to be giving him all of my interests in the Washington Post and Blue Origin, and 75% of our Amazon stock plus voting control of my shares to support his continued contributions with the teams of these incredible companies.  Excited about my own plans.  Grateful for the past as I look forward to what comes next.”

Jeff described his wife as “resourceful brilliant and loving” saying that he was “grateful for her support and for her kindness in the process.”    

You may be thinking, what can I learn from this billionaire couples experience?  They have money which most people don’t have.  However, all the money in the world doesn’t take away the pain and trauma of divorce and the choice, every couple has on divorce or separation as to how they want things to end. 

Jeff and MacKenzie’s marriage ending and the emotions they each will have faced coming to terms with this are not unique to them.   What they demonstrated to the world is that, on divorce, it is possible to work together to find a solution and it is possible to walk away with positivity and control over how you may resolve your finances.  Divorce is emotionally difficult but it is possible, with the right professional, legal and emotional support to find a way forward that is respectful and works. 

This can be achieved in mediation, which routinely gives couples a confidential, neutral, safe space to work through their feelings on separation and come up with proposals which are bespoke and will work for them.  Never easy but absolutely worthwhile to be able to look back on your divorce or separation feeling that you came through it together and put the best interests of the family to move on respectfully at the heart of your discussions.   

I wish the Bezos family continued resilience and positivity in the next stage of their lives.  It is also my hope that those currently facing a divorce or separation have the strength to look for a better way.   You can find out more about my model of mediation which offers a collaborative approach to divorce and separation, putting children first by contacting me on 07944 108298 or by e-mailing me at clare@claremadelinemediation.co.uk

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