“Conscious Uncoupling”

If you spend any amount of time online, you may be aware that there is a new trend in divorce called “conscious uncoupling.” Gwyneth Paltrow coined the term when she announced her split from her husband of ten years, Chris Martin. Her message stank of superiority. She concocted an image to appear as if this decision came after long discussions over eco-friendly glasses of red wine. Forget the passé divorces with hostility and hurt feelings, this is just a mutual decision to no longer exclusively be with one another. Just this morning, Jewel echoed this sentiment with the, “tender undoing,” of her own marriage. I take great offense to this new wave of happy dissolutions, and I am worried that there are not more people outraged by this. My problem is not that I don’t believe that they are telling the truth either–it’s that I believe they are.

What does it mean if we can now leave a marriage, not when we have hit rock bottom, but when we are bored? Both of these highlighted instances shine a light on an epidemic in our culture that we no longer believe anything worth having is worth fighting for. We now have admiration for couples who say, “It wasn’t that bad, we are still good friends and will continue to be in each others’ lives. We are simply choosing not to protect the one thing we took vows to protect.” Poof, it’s over. And what message does that send to their children? It says to me and most likely others who hear it that there is nothing sacred about marriage anymore. It says that when things are hard, don’t do them. What was once entered into after consideration, is now the reverse. We have unconscious coupling because there is no consequence to the exit. I am not anti-divorce, but I am anti-not trying. I often tell the couples I work with that my bias is for the marriage. I have yet to see a problem insurmountable, as long as each individual is willing to take responsibility for his or her own role in the problems. If you are still civil enough to “remain best friends,” (a quote from Hilary Duff’s press release regarding her divorce), why can you not be civil enough to look inward and find a way to consciously stay together for better or for worse?

4 thoughts on ““Conscious Uncoupling””

  1. I recently wrote a post on this very same topic; however, I have the opposite point of view. Every story is different and unique. When two people are so unhappy for so long (maybe years of fighting, screaming, crying, resentment, and truly giving it their all time and time again), there can come a point when they both simply surrender to what it is…and that is, it’s just not working. I don’t feel the words, “conscious divorce” evoke a sense of ease in the process of divorce, but rather a mutual understanding between two people who want to remain human to one another out of respect and for the well-being of their children. I don’t feel couples need to be bitter and brutal to one another to be “worthy” of divorce. We don’t know these people’s entire story. I don’t think consciously divorcing implies someone did not try. I think it implies, someone is divorcing smart. If divorce is eminent, why not make it the best it can be?
    Nothing will stop divorce completely. We have the power to help people who want to try and work on staying married (we all deserve to be happy) and we have the power to be civil human beings when divorce is the ultimate decision. I do understand your point of view and I respect it. I am sure many people don’t try. In the end, it is a personal choice no matter what and that must be respected. It is a very difficult topic to discuss as a whole.

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    1. I appreciate your reply. I think we both read very differently into the term and should we make the assumption that there may have been a lot of work going on behind the scenes without resolution, then I agree deciding to separate in a civil way is best for everyone.

      However I still think the press releases, quotes and sound bytes we get from the media gloss over the work, and could give others the impression that if it is not easy, just walk away.

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      1. Agreed. Maybe the key is to not make assumptions either way, but to simply take the good from a situation and perpetuate that. No matter how these people got to where they are, I feel their intentions are only to promote civil dissolution’s of marriage. Again, that is making another assumption 🙂

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