The challenge of coping with divorce can be like putting a puzzle back together

What the Hell’s Wrong with Conscious Uncoupling?

We all made fun when Gwyneth Paltrow and Chris Martin first announced their Conscious Uncoupling.  The UK Guardian called it “deluded tosh.”  The Daily News said it’s a “pretentious break-up phrase”. And individuals around the world chimed in with scathing comments and mocking tweets and ranting posts. But now with the news suggesting that Gwyneth and Chris have reconciled, can we consciously uncouple them from the conversation we should be having?

Regardless of your moral stance or your marital status, you need only look around to see that divorce is a social phenomenon with tragic consequences, and that the word “divorce” carries a social stigma, a stain of shame as much as it is a legal term for coming-apart. It’s not a pretty word, and it encases an even uglier experience. But we’ve grown used to the word, begrudgingly.  It’s the word that is used.  It’s the medal that marks us as losers.

I admit I have not listened to the five Conscious Uncoupling videos created by Katherine Woodward Thomas, the LA-based therapist and author who has suggested we look at break ups in a less destructive manner.  I have listened to her online seminar as way of entrée in, however.  And I was jolted.   Not because Woodward Thomas seemed shallow, or so ethereally new age-y as to be totally dismissed as gobbly “GOOP”; or that her five videos are priced at a remarkable $297 total, and thus not only for the rich and truffle-eating; but because Thomas’ words make perfect sense.  If only our culture were different.

Conscious Uncoupling asks that we reconsider how we break up and how we move forward.  For a lot of people this sounds radical for coping with divorce is supposed to mean blame and anger.  We are usually hell bent that the Other is to blame and as a result, this experience can only mean that it will be ugly. It may be litigious. We should hate our Ex and the time spent with him/her.  We should hate ourselves for having made the decision to couple up. We should regret.  We should self-loathe. Mea culpa, mea culpa.

But what Katherine Woodward Thomas begs us to recognize is a reality: “relationships have changed more in the past 50 years than in the past 50,000.  What we need and want from relationships is different from before. Due to our higher life expectancies, most of us are destined to go through 2 to 3 break ups during a life time.”

And that is precisely why it’s important to avoid mistakes as we separate and evolve the way we are breaking up. We need to develop ourselves so we never experience this kind of suffering again and to find a way to joy, to heal, and for restoring our lives and those of our loved ones.

Accepting that separations are an unavoidable reality of modern living allows us to develop the capacity for navigating through them and for finding the power within ourselves to move forward, to live more thoughtfully and to thrive because of all our hard-won wisdom.

We encourage you who are going through divorce to know that by jumping off the cliff and getting divorced, by some measures, you are already going against our cultural norms of “appropriate behavior.”  If you own that you are already flying in the face of convention, that your daring to live otherwise has you somewhere outside the box, then why would you buy into what others say you must do?  Why accept how others say you must behave, or how others say you must resolve your break up?  Dig deep and consider what is right for you and your family. Look into various means of getting through. What will be the healthiest journey for arriving on the Other Side? The real damage comes from ending and repeating the same mistakes that sabotage our own power to take hold of our lives.

We need to begin to challenge the idea that the end of a relationship is a defeat, a loss, a moral collapse; or that the 20th anniversary of marriage signifies some kind of morally-superior, seal of personal success. We need to accept that with people living longer than ever before, we evolve and grow; and that sometimes for people to thrive, to live life to the fullest, we must grow apart.  Sometimes, we must separate to live.


How will you consciously move forward? We offer free consultations so that you can ask questions and find out more about how we can support you — a woman who is looking to cope with divorce the healthiest way possible. Contact us to schedule your free consultation (in person or via telephone) today.

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