As the wealthiest person in the history of the world, Jeff Bezos can make news just by switching his preferred brand of morning coffee. However, the news of his impending divorce (and immediate attachment to another partner) seems to be significant in a different kind of way.
It’s not just that Jeff is super-rich and also is getting divorced. It’s that he is super-rich and yet is getting divorced. Not that most people would assume that wealthy people are necessarily successful spouses; rather, the point is that it underscores what it really takes to succeed at life, and what success even means.
I should point out here that I am in no way judging Jeff Bezos. I don’t know what happened in his marriage, what they tried or didn’t try to remedy things, whether his wife was a saint or a scoundrel. None of us will ever know, and it’s not our business. But the point is that neither Jeff nor his ex-wife can be happy about how things have turned out. Perhaps they are happier to be splitting than they would be to remain together, but it’s safe to say they did not get married with the intent of enjoying a few decades together then parting ways. That wasn’t the initial plan, I would wager.
So there is a loss here. And it’s a big one. Research has shown that the single greatest factor in a person’s happiness and well-being is the quality of their relationships. If the relationship between Jeff and his ex-wife was deficient enough to lead them to bail on it, it’s clear that it wasn’t bringing them the happiness it potentially could. We’ve seen plenty of miserable Hollywood celebrities hopping in and out of marriages, and we know that being rich isn’t the same as being happy. Yet I think this episode brings home the point even more strongly. This isn’t just another wealthy the celebrity. It’s the guy at the very top of the totem pole, and even he was unable to maintain a successful relationship. (Again, this is not to say that he is or is not at fault – it just means that even billions of dollars are not valid currency for a happy marriage.)
Although we all know in our heads that money can’t buy love, too many of us still end up spending more of our time, energy, and focus on our jobs and our financial success than on our families, our marriages, and our relationship success. The Bezos divorce ought to serve as a wakeup call for all of us: you can amass literally more money than anyone has ever possessed and still miss out on the greatest thing life has to offer: a deep, meaningful, lasting relationship.