Remember that time Academy Award-winning actress Gwyneth Paltrow and Coldplay front man Chris Martin got divorced? Wait, I’m sorry—did I say divorced? I meant consciously uncoupled—remember that time Gwyneth Paltrow and Chris Martin got… consciously uncoupled?
A joint-statement was released on Paltrow’s webpage, Goop, on March 25th: “It is with hearts full of sadness that we have decided to separate. We have been working hard for well over a year…and we have come to the conclusion that while we love each other very much we will remain separate… We have always conducted our relationship privately, and we hope that as we consciously uncouple and coparent, we will be able to continue in the same manner.” The couple were married for 10 years and have two children together—Apple, 9, and Moses, 8.
So now for the obvious question: What is “conscious uncoupling” (other than a kind of pretentious way to say “divorce”)? For starters, it’s apparently an actual thing (I thought for sure Gwyneth made it up, but she didn’t). Conscious uncoupling is the act of taking time and thought over a break-up, attempting self-reflection rather than playing the blame game. It’s making the decision to walk away peacefully from a relationship. For Paltrow and Martin, it is, in a nutshell, two people deciding they can no longer function as a couple, but need to continue functioning as a family.
While marriage should be ’til death do us part, I commend the couple for their maturity in a less than ideal situation. But I mourn the fact that we don’t put as much thought into consciously coupling as we do consciously uncoupling. We take time and effort to break up intentionally, but we’re still alright with “falling in love.”
Shouldn’t it be the other way around? Shouldn’t love be a conscious choice, not a random occurrence? Shouldn’t we take time and effort to plan a life with somebody, and even more time and effort to live a life with somebody? Modern marriage might look very different if we did.