Decoding a conscious uncoupling

Decoding a conscious uncoupling

Every once in a while, something comes along that is so jaw-droppingly awesome that it changes everything. Last week, we got exactly that in the separation of former People's Magazine most beautiful woman in the world Gwyneth Paltrow and brooding rock star Chris Martin of Coldplay.

Celebrity marriages ending are something we have all seen before and have, honestly, become a little blase about.

These days, we give celebrity break-ups approximately the same attention as a celebrity gaining or losing weight. That means women have now condensed their opinions on such matters down to about 10 seconds ("Oh, what a pity" or "I knew it would never last"), while men have maintained their interest in this topic at a steady zero ("They were together?").

It is often more shocking to learn that a celebrity couple have been together for a long time. Women are able to sustain a conversation on this for way longer, dissecting whether there are any trends to be gleaned from it ("It feels like comedians seem to have longer marriages"), while men may be able to rouse a little interest depending on how attractive the woman is ("She is together with who?"). Paltrow and Martin's break-up changed all that because they didn't get a divorce like everyone else. They engaged in a "conscious uncoupling".

What is that, you ask? And does it imply it is possible to unconsciously uncouple as well as consciously or unconsciously couple? If I have a drunken one night stand, can I tell my friends the next day that I unconsciously coupled?

Nobody knows the answer.

That is why when the two posted an announcement of their "conscious uncoupling" online, they accompanied it with a post from a pair of New Age-type therapists explaining what it was. They also included a loving picture of them together, which really gave the whole divorce announcement the feel of a wedding invite.

Most of the time, the explanations for divorce are fairly brief - "the scumbag cheated on me with my best friend's sister", "We just hated each other's guts and could no longer tolerate to be in the same room" or "the smell was very strong".

This one had hundreds and hundreds of words that included statistics about a human lifespan.

I am going to quote just a few bits of it to you because if you attempt to read the whole thing, you might gouge your eyes out.

It starts with the classic words everyone expects when about to read an explanation for divorce: "During the upper Paleolithic period of human history (roughly 50,000BC to 10,000BC) the average human life expectancy at birth was 33".

The unsaid implication being that it is unnatural to stay committed to someone beyond your early 30s.

It should come as no surprise that this explanation includes footnotes.

Several hundred words later, we get to the part where the therapists get down to the business of explaining conscious uncoupling: "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. Because present events always trigger pain from a past event, it's never the current situation that needs the real fixing."

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