‘Conscious Uncoupling’—And What It Really Means
It seems that ‘conscious uncoupling’ has become the latest relationship buzz word ever since Gywneth Paltrow and Chris Martin recently used the term to announce their separation after 10 years of marriage on Paltrow’s website GOOP.
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The public seems transfixed on what this actually means, and whether or not to buy into the concept, particularly due to Paltrow’s sometimes negative public image.
“If you had heard of ‘conscious uncoupling’ from Oprah, Dr. Phil, or maybe even Beyoncé, you would embrace the idea with an open mind, but because the term was brought to light via Gwyneth Paltrow, whom the media often portrays as spoiled and snobbish, the term has received a confused and negative connotation,” says Lisa Haisha, a relationship coach and counselor with Hollywood clientele.
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While most divorces seem to revolve around drama, ‘conscious uncoupling’ is about positivity and respect. In today’s society, “getting divorced, breaking up, and ending the marriage all have negative connotations and quickly lead to blame, fault, cheating and betrayal, with kids often used as pawns,” says Allana Pratt, a relationship coach and intimacy expert.
However, “conscious uncoupling means to be in acceptance that the partnership no longer is a contribution to both parties and to release one another without blame, anger or judgment, (thereby) creating peace for the kids,” Pratt adds.
Pratt said she likes the concept of conscious uncoupling and that of ‘Spiritual Divorce,”’ which was put into practice years ago by the late Debbie Ford to help couples going through a separation learn to regain their power and create the life of their dreams. Ultimately, “it’s (about making) a choice to live a consciously delicious life,” she says. “I applaud Paltrow and Martin for showing us that words have power. Conscious uncoupling invites the best in us to show up when completing a relationship.”
Haisha is also glad Paltrow’s news has been generating awareness of the concept. Despite what people may think of her, “we need to give Gwyneth a little credit for bringing up a positive terminology to relationships and showing us how to end something so sad in such a graceful manner.”
Can Conscious Uncoupling Work for You?
The terminology was actually developed several years ago by Katherine Woodward Thomas, MA, MFT, who has since created a therapy program based around the concept, explains Haisha. “I have often implemented (the program) into my own practice to usher couples through the emotional roller coaster that is a breakup.”
Prior to the creation of the conscious uncoupling program, “a married couple’s breakup could end only one way—in the metaphorical pit of hell called divorce,” says Haisha. “The term divorce often brings to mind ideas of bitterness, anger, resentment, disappointment and emotional pain.”
During counseling sessions, she reminds clients that once you marry someone, you marry them for life—even if you’re separated and especially when children are involved. “Because of this, it’s in each other’s best interest to make peace — most especially with ourselves,” she advises. “Conscious uncoupling is a process that invokes the practitioners to focus on their own healing and well-being which, in turn, allows them to make peace with their ex and their relationship.”
The program can also help children who are struggling with their parent’s divorce. “Conscious uncoupling allows parents to ease their children into the change that lies before them when their parents are altering the way they relate to each other,” explains Haisha. “It’s a terrific tool that promotes a sense of stability in a time of potential upheaval.”
Having been through a divorce herself, Pratt knows it can be difficult. “I’m currently in a custody battle, and I know firsthand the pain caused by holding onto anger. Thus I’m an advocate for people completing relationships with honor and grace for the kids.”
“Conscious uncoupling offers a positive and much-needed spin to the dissolution of a relationship…and in an era where divorce is more common than successful marriages, there must be a good amount of divorces that end gracefully and with mutual respect,” says Haisha. “It’s high time that we brought this new term into our cultural lexicon.”
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