Gwyneth Paltrow and Chris Martin are separating, or according to Gwen’s post, pursuing “conscious uncoupling.” Often, celebrities bring new or unknown concepts to the public’s attention. As such, this is the first time I have heard of “conscious uncoupling.” The term was coined by Los Angeles therapist Katherine Woodward Thomas, who offers a five-week online course to “release the trauma of a breakup, reclaim your power and reinvent your life.”
Gwen explains that marriage and divorce is the manner in which a person can be a “fully realized person.” “Unconscious uncoupling” is that process. The end of a marriage has less to do with the other’s spouse’s fault, but an opportunity for interpersonal growth. In other words, you look to yourself to find out what you did wrong in the marriage and how you could mature as a person. This does not result in the couple reconciling, but moving on as single “newly realized person.”
Moments of crisis definitely give us an opportunity to grow interpersonally, emotionally and spiritually. Divorce certainly is one of these times. However, “unconscious uncoupling” ignores the pain, betrayal, and confusion of divorce. Before true interpersonal growth can happen, couples should have an opportunity to be angry, grieve, and separate from their marriage, both emotionally and physically.
I’m also very curious how “unconscious uncoupling” works when one partner has had an affair, an addiction, or there’s been domestic violence, abuse, or criminal activity. Should the injured party (or in some of these situations, the victim) assume fault for the ended marriage for his or her interpersonal growth? How could these situations fall within “unconscious uncoupling?” These marriage-ending situations have little to do with the couple’s desire, or lack thereof, to be married to the other for life. Instead, one spouse has participated in dangerous external activities that have wreaked havoc on their marriage. How can we say that these marriages ended because the injured spouse was immature or was not a “fully realized person?” The injured spouse would have to completely ignore his or her suffering because the other spouse betrayed him or her.
On Gwen’s blog, her mentors further express that “unconscious uncoupling” understands the reality that long-term marriage are an outdated concept better suited to a time when human life expectancy was closer to 30 than 80. They argue that a lifetime commitment might be too much pressure for a person. This actually contradicts research. The research shows that elderly couples in long-term marriages have more satisfying and longer lives than their unmarried or divorced counterparts.
We probably can all agree marriage is difficult. However, instead of waiting for a divorce to become a “fully realized” person, reach out to your spouse now to find areas you could improve. Put in time and awareness into your marriage now so it lasts. And remember to tell them thank you for the little things they do!