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Bill and Melinda Gates say this wedding gift from Bill's parents helps them not fight

In their 10th Annual Letter, billionaire philanthropists Bill and Melinda Gates answer the 10 toughest questions they get asked, from how President Trump's policies affect their foundation's work to whether or not it's fair that they have so much wealth.

They also answered more personal questions, including, "What happens when the two of you disagree?"

"Working together as well as raising a family together, there's a certain intensity to that," Bill said during a Q&A with Melinda and Lin-Manuel Miranda in New York City last week. "But we're very lucky because we mostly see things the same way. The goals are very much the same."

That's something the couple is reminded of everyday, thanks to a wedding gift from Bill's parents: A sculpture of two birds side by side.

Lin-Manuel Miranda, Melinda Gates and Bill Gates speak during a panel at Hunter College in New York City
John Lamparski | Getty Images
Lin-Manuel Miranda, Melinda Gates and Bill Gates speak during a panel at Hunter College in New York City

"What we love about it so much is that it's these two birds who are looking forward together," says Melinda. "What it reminds us is, these two birds, who presumably are mates, have a shared view out into the world."

It's been 24 years since the two got married and the sculpture is still in front of their house, Melinda writes in the Annual Letter: "I think of it all the time, because fundamentally we're looking in the same direction."

Though they generally align as co-parents and as close colleagues, sharing a vision on the big issues doesn't mean they're always on the same page.

"There's definitely some tactical day-to-day pieces where you may not always agree," Melinda said during the Q&A. "But I would say this: Neither of us are afraid of a little bit of grist in the system, neither in business nor in our marriage. That's how you actually grow. And so we will have tough conversations."

The key is to have those tough conversations in private, she adds: "It's just like a family, with your kids. You show up as a united front. And so in business, we show up as a united front."

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