When megastars Gwyneth Paltrow and Chris Martin announced their breakup, they brought the term “conscious uncoupling” to our collective attention. While at first glance conscious uncoupling may seem nothing more than actor-speak for divorce, it merits closer inspection.
The concept "uncoupling" was introduced by Katherine Woodward Thomas, author of “Calling in ‘The One’” and developer of the five-week “The Art of Conscious Uncoupling” seminar. She explains on her website that her goal was “to create a map for a couple to consciously complete a relationship — to have an honorable ending.”
She adds that most of us cling to the fantasy that our marriages will last a lifetime. When they don’t, we feel like we’ve failed. In fact, the mate-for-life notion began when life expectancies were much shorter than they are today. Realistically, individuals may experience several long-term relationships that span distinct segments of their lives.
Conscious uncoupling provides couples with a strategy for gracefully moving out of a union without the acrimony and financial and emotional hardship typical of a divorce.
To achieve this, both parties agree to work together in a respectful, pleasant and constructive way.
They set aside the disappointments and differences that necessitated the split for the greater purpose of rearing their children and establishing new lives.
In the March 27 issue of the Huffington Post, relationship therapist Tammy Nelson, Ph.D., said, “It is a conscious choice to avoid adversarial attorneys, and choosing instead mediation, or a collaborative attorney.”
Of course, mediation is nothing new. Divorcing couples have successfully relied on neutral mediators to guide them through such painful decisions as child custody or spousal support.
What Paltrow and Martin are modeling is the admirable way marriages can end if both parties choose to be civil and cooperative.
Still, I wonder what would have happened if they’d put the same amount of energy into the relationship in the first place. Perhaps they wouldn’t need to uncouple after all. Just a thought.
A FEW RULES FOR CONSCIOUS UNCOUPLING
Linda Lewis Griffith is a local marriage and family therapist. For information or to contact her, visit http://lindalewisgriffith.com.