Since The New I Do is very much about coupling consciously, we took particular interest in the recent announcement that actress Gwyneth Paltrow and Coldplay front man Chris Martin are splitting, or as they put it “consciously uncoupling.”
In a joint statement, the couple that married in 2003 said:
“We are parents first and foremost, to two incredibly wonderful children and we ask for their and our space and privacy to be respected at this difficult time. We have always conducted our relationship privately, and we hope that as we consciously uncouple and co-parent, we will be able to continue in the same manner.”
So what’s conscious uncoupling? According to Paltrow’s lifestyle guru Dr. Habib Sadeghi:
“A conscious uncoupling is the ability to understand that every irritation and argument was a signal to look inside ourselves and identify a negative internal object that needed healing … From this perspective, there are no bad guys, just two people, each playing teacher and student respectively.”
Doesn’t that sound healthy? Instead of finger-pointing, it’s a way to be mindful about how you acted and what you felt in your relationship. Don’t we hunger for that self-awareness? Wouldn’t that make us be better people and partners in future relationships?
Despite everyone pegging — or blaming — it on Paltrow, it wasn’t her idea or her husband’s or even Sadeghi’s; it’s the brainchild of psychotherapist Katherine Woodward Thomas, who says we need to rethink the heartbreak we feel when a romance ends:
“The problem is that we’ve all been taught to end our relationships in ways that often guarantee just these kinds of painful results. … The end of your relationship doesn’t need to be a painful ‘breakup.’ It can simply be a completion, and it can also be a wonderful transition into the next stage of your life . . . and your next relationship.”
Few would say that divorce is “wonderful,” but it’s true that it can lead to a happier, healthier life. After all, many men marry again successfully and many women focus on nurturing themselves after years of care-taking kids and husbands and find new partners as well. There shouldn’t be any shame or sense of failure for turning an ending into a new beginning.
While it’s always hard to divorce when there are young kids, Paltrow’s and Martin’s emphasis on being good co-parents is also essential, and it’s much, much easier to do that if you can be kind and respectful to your former spouse. And it looks like that’s how they’re handling it.
One of the marital models we outline in The New I Do is a Parenting Marriage, which emphasizes similar concepts — being kind and respectful to a partner, even if you are not romantic partners, while you co-parent the kids. All you want to do is give your kids the stability, love and attention they need.
Of course, lots of people are already making fun of their conscious uncoupling — people often cannot wrap their head around new ways of coupling and uncoupling. That is their loss. We believe the old paradigms for coupling and uncoupling don’t work anymore. Let’s try something new.