Social media networks must have flashed like emergency lights the day Gwyneth Paltrow posted a notice on her Goop.com website announcing that she and her husband of ten years, Chris Martin, were separating. Celebrity divorces and separations happen every day, but what made people notice Paltrow and Martin’s situation was the way she announced it, using the “new age,” 1960’s and 1970’s era consciousness raising type jargon, “conscious uncoupling.” If that wasn’t weird enough, Paltrow and Martin decided to vacation in the Bahamas, using the occasion as a celebratory “break-up moon.”
Understanding “conscious uncoupling”
Anyone who hears the term “conscious uncoupling,” in a context like the one in which Gwyneth Paltrow used it is likely to roll their eyes, thinking that the description is pompous or pretentious because it just sounds so ridiculous. Dr. Sonya Rhodes, the relationship writer for Huffington Post, gives her own interpretation of the phrase, saying she believes that the couple used it to show that they are looking within themselves to figure out the reasons their relationship didn’t work, and they do this, instead of blaming one another.
How the “conscious uncoupling” concept originated
Wall Street Journal’s Ben Zimmer accurately summed up the likely collective universal online response to Gwyneth Paltrow’s announcement on her website, as “huh.” He delved into the origins of the phrase as applied to this context and shows its meaning and use in psychological and sociological paradigms.
She later published a book entitled “Uncoupling: Turning Points in Intimate Relationships.” She got the idea from a mechanic who used the word in thinking of a couple breaking up as analogous to a train engine “uncoupling” from a car.
In 2006, Kathryn Clements, a New Zealand counselor, may have used the term when she delivered a research report to the counseling program at Massey University.
Her report suggested “separation rituals” might facilitate “conscious uncoupling.” In the United States, the term was first used when marriage therapist Katherine Woodland Thomas and her friend, filmmaker Kit Thomas, discussed their respective divorces.
The two wanted to find a phrase that could describe the end of a marriage or relationship, in a favorable or positive way. Once the words “conscious uncoupling” popped out of Mr. Thomas’ mouth, Ms. Thomas (no relation,) grabbed the term, intending to use it as a concept for a kind, respectful breakup. She now sells an online course where she promotes the term, and she plans to write a book about it as well.
Kabbalah Rabbi presided over beach ritual
The A-List couple is known for their weirdness about many things, including naming their daughter Apple and their son Moses. The ceremonial ritual was supposed to be a symbolic uncoupling aimed at giving the couple some badly needed spiritual healing. Along with lighting a fire on the beach, they read from the sacred Kabbalah Zohar book.
According to the British tabloid the Daily Star, they also threw pebbles into the ocean, as a symbolic representation of their “wandering spirits.” The ceremony ended with each of them blessing the other coming and going before kissing.
Couple had troubled marriage before announcing separation
People Magazine features a cover story on the couple for the April 14, 2014 edition. People reporter, Patrick Gomez, told Inside Edition that the couple did work on their marriage over the years, but it wasn’t easy because they were often working in different countries.
People also quoted an unnamed friend who said that despite their attempts to work on their marriage, the couple was “on and off for many years.” The friend, who also said “their marriage was falling apart,” suggested the couple had an open marriage.
Access Hollywood featured a lengthy story about the couple’s split, mentioning every story tabloids have published about sightings of the couple with other people, including Paltrow’s ex-husband, showing a picture of her kissing him at a baseball game, as her children sat next to her. Both Paltrow and Martin have been linked with other people, although both deny any extramarital relationships.
MSN’s CelebrityFix notes that in the past, Martin was linked with A-Listers Kate Bosworth, Kate Hudson, and even supermodel Helena Christensen. Bosworth didn’t comment, but Hudson and Christensen quickly denied the rumors. On the other side, the rumor mill has linked Paltrow with lawyer Kevin Yorn, the billionaire Jeffrey Soffer, who is now married to Elle McPherson, and Brad Falchuk, producer of popular television show, Glee. Only Yorn denied the allegations.
The couple, whose assets are substantial, haven’t started dividing anything, but once those negotiations begin, it wouldn’t be surprising if the process of deciding who gets what, not to mention, custodial arrangements for the children, that the situation quickly escalates into a typical Hollywood divorce, complete with mud-slinging and cheating allegations, all in the name of the “blame game.”