Who wears the trousers in your relationship?

According to Melinda Gates, the secret to a happy marriage is that both parties wear a snug pair of 501s.

Now you might wonder why you should take advice from Melinda Gates; who is she to you, right?

Well, frankly, having been happily married to Microsoft founder, Bill Gates, for twenty-five years, as well as founding the world's largest charity organization, I'd argue that if you're going to seek marriage advice from anyone, it should be this lady.

It's all about balance.

via: Getty Images.

According to Melinda Gates, the secret to a happy relationship is establishing a balance in your partnership. One of the ways in which Bill and Melinda, the billionaire philanthropists, ensure a balance in their relationship is by sharing the responsibility of doing the dishes.

So does owning a dishwasher spell divorce?

According to Melinda, something that might sound trivial, like washing dishes, is actually part of a much bigger endgame. Speaking to Business Insider's Alyson Shontel this week, Melinda imparted this pearl of marriage wisdom and much more. The interview was given to discuss her new book: The Moment of Lift: How Empowering Women Changes the World. One way that Melinda believes that women can become empowered is by destabilizing pre-established gender roles within the marital home.

There's nothing trivial about gender politics.

Explaining the reason that she and Billionaire Bill share the task of doing the dishes, Melinda said: "It might sound trivial, but splitting this kind of 'unpaid' household work, which takes a lot of time and traditionally falls on women more than men, is key to helping solve gender inequality, improving poverty, and boosting the overall economy."

Melinda is passionate about improving the lives of women around the world.

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Melinda Gates started 2018 by declaring, "it’s time for a new era for women."

Melinda put her money where her mouth is.

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In 2018, The Melinda and Bill Gates Foundation announced plans to spend $170 million dollars over the course of the next four years to support women around the world to exercise their economic power.

How will the money be spent?

It's all very well to say that the Gates Foundation intends to pump money into reversing gender inequality against women, but how do you go about blasting down these age-old sexist walls? In an op-ed for Quartz, Bill wrote: "Simply put when money flows into the hands of women who have the authority to use it, everything changes."

Should I be waiting on a cheque from the Gates' then?

It's not quite that simple and the funds that the Foundation has put aside are really aimed at supporting women in places of poverty. Melinda outlined the plans in the same Quartz op-ed explaining: "One in three married women in the poorest countries have no say over major household purchases." The effect of reversing this, by giving women bank accounts, can make all the difference. Melinda goes on to say that "a recent study in India found that merely owning and using a bank account led women to work outside the home more. As a result, they earned more money, but they also changed men’s perception of them. By defying a social norm that confined them inside, they started to change it."

From splitting household chores to sharing economic responsibility, it's all about equality.

It's clear that Melinda doesn't separate her social politics and her home life. And good on her, live what you preach, I say.

Equality starts at home.

Melinda recognizes that sharing the "unpaid" work necessary to running a family home drastically redefines female productivity in the outer world. Speaking to Business Insider, she explains: "If women are able to lower their weekly unpaid work from seven hours per week down to five, their workforce productivity is boosted about 20%."

We'll never take over the world pairing up socks and wiping runny noses.

Melinda has seen first-hand how detrimental falling into the domesticated sphere can be to a woman's sense of self and her relationship with her partner if that's not where she wants to be.

Every marriage takes work, even Bill and Melinda's.

Discussing the hard times in her marriage in her book, Melinda details how she experienced a sense of loneliness while pregnant with the Gates' first child, Jenifer. This had less to do with Bill being an inadequate partner, and more to do with the dynamics of the relationship. With Bill consumed with his work at Microsoft, traveling the world, and running the company, Melinda struggled to find her place within the marriage.

Melinda recognized in herself how easily women fall into the role of homemaker.

It's the little things that lead women to lose their agency in a marriage. One of those things is, in fact, the curse of the dishes. Melinda detailed this in her interview with the Business Insider, saying: "One night we stood up after dinner and people in the family started to melt away, like, off they go upstairs. So hand on my hips, I'm, like, 'Nobody leaves the kitchen until I leave the kitchen!'" According to Melinda, after her outburst that night, her family noticed the gendered expectations that they had put on her shoulders. Now the Gates family share the responsibility of cleaning up after dinner. Melinda calls it a "Gates tradition."

To abolish oppressive traditions we have to create new ones.

Melinda believes that the only way in which we can achieve an equal and balanced society is through "address[ing] the systematic way that women and girls are undervalued." And as silly as you might think it sounds, this starts with throwing the dishcloth at your confused, and hopefully abiding, partner.

Melinda Gates is no homemaker, she's a world changer.

Melinda's vision is clear, but no one can accuse her of choosing an easy fight. That isn't going to stop her though. Ms. Gates is one billionaire who wants to change the world for the better. Outlining the crux of her mission, she said: "We aim to help tear down the barriers that keep half the world from leading a full life."

Where did Melinda (neé French) Gates come from? Did she fall from heaven?

Melinda was actually born in Dallas, Texas and, being of high intelligence even from a young age, it's understandable that Melinda was much more eager to follow in her father's footsteps, rather than her mother's. Melinda's father, Raymond, was an aerospace engineer and her mother, Elaine, was a "homemaker."

Melinda delves deeper into what her parent's relationship taught her in her book.

Although Melinda's mother, Elaine, is widely cited as being a "homemaker," in the book, Elaine supported her husband, Raymond, through college. Melinda explains that her mother worked as "an executive assistant at a bottled water company — while also working nights and weekends as Ray's lab assistant."

PhT- "Putting Hubby Through."

Melinda recalls that The Stanford Women's Club (Ray was studying at Stanford) was so impressed with how much Elaine managed to take on that they awarded her "an engraved certificate that read "PhT" for "Putting Hubby Through." Once Ray graduated from Stanford, the family moved to Dallas. This was when he took up a job as an aerospace engineer and Elaine took on the full-time responsibility of raising four children. Melinda explains that the duo also juggled a real-estate business to put their four kids through college.

"My mother taught me to set my own agenda."

It's clear that Melinda Gates cites her mother's influence as one of the main driving forces for her success. Not one to fall into the prescribed notion of gender roles that existed at the time, Melinda recalls that her mom loved that she had big dreams for herself, adding: "She also gave me a piece of advice I've carried in my heart ever since: 'If you don’t set your own agenda, someone else will.'"

Strong women raise strong women.

Melinda isn't saying that equality means that women ought to relinquish all shackles of raising a family and taking on domestic responsibilities - I don't think that Melinda thinks that living like a slob and avoiding motherhood is any way for women to take over the world. I don't even think that she believes that women need to take over the world. I think that Melinda Gates understands that living outside of gender expectations isn't about avoiding cliches, but about setting personal targets and goals, whatever they may be.

Becoming a goal-setter.

Melinda Gates wants women around the world to know that they can have it all if they want it. Using her own experience as an example, and boy, what an example she has set, Melinda explains that investing in yourself and mapping out your future gives you control.

Melinda Gates mapped out her life-plan in a notebook.

Melinda recalls: "I decided that I was going to graduate high school as valedictorian so I could get accepted by a top-tier college, earn a degree in computer science, and work at a software company. (I still have the piece of notebook paper I used to map this plan out.) I also knew I wanted to have kids and be a great mom, just like mine."

Bridging the equality gap at home and at work.

Melinda Gates is passionate about fixing the gender divide within the field of computer science. In another piece that the philanthropist wrote for Quartz, Melinda outlined her agenda to reconfigure how women view pursuing a career in computer science. Melinda sees the preconditioned notions that people have of the field that prevent women from entering the game. She stated, "Stereotypes can discourage young women and people of color from pursuing tech in the first place."

The next Bill Gates won't look like the last one.

If anyone can make a statement like that without sounding like a Gates-hater, it is Melinda Gates. She explained the sentiment, saying:

"With such a lack of diversity in the field, we might start to assume there’s something natural about white guys dominating tech. But the tech field looks the way it does because we made it that way."

Melinda Gates believes that you can change the world by changing perceptions.

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In an interview with GeekWire, Melinda acknowledges that, once we perceive all of the barriers that are in the way of women across the world, we can make the necessary steps towards dissolving said barriers and bringing about balance. Melinda has faith in this plan, mapping it out just as she did with her own individual successes. She explains: "If we’d recognize the barriers and lift those barriers, and then we invest in women, then women invest in everybody else and it changes our societies all over the world."

Balance is a subject that has loomed over the Gates marriage.

For Melinda, the importance of gender balance in her heart meant that marrying and Bill and having his children left her feeling pretty lonely. Melinda revealed in an interview, though, that Bill almost didn't marry her because he was concerned that he wouldn't be able to balance work-life and family-life successfully.

Bill Gates didn't want to be an absent father.

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Speaking to The Independent, Melinda stated: "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?’"

Twenty-five years married, I think that Bill and Melinda might have cracked it.

Melinda isn't one to sugarcoat anything and she has been very open about the ups and downs of married life. Speaking to The Sunday Times, she said, "Believe me, I can remember some days that were so incredibly hard in our marriage where you thought: ‘Can I do this?’"

What's their secret?

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Melinda admits that the couple’s initial relationship required "lots of patience on her part." It seems that things got easier for the Gates couple as they grew older. Regarding the current state of her marriage to Bill, Melinda said, “We’ve just gotten to a point where Bill and I can both laugh about more things."

The Gates duo has admittedly more to laugh about than most.

via: Getty Images.

Bill and Melinda, despite their incredibly generous philanthropy, having given $45 billion to charity, do live a very comfortable life. The couple, who married in 1994, live in a rather nice mansion that overlooks Lake Washington, which reportedly cost a cool $127 million dollars. The mansion has seven bedrooms and 18.75(?) bathrooms.

Perhaps the secret to a long-lasting happy marriage is having a crazy amount of bathrooms?

There's no chance of this pair arguing about who left the toilet seat up, eh?