March 28, 2014

Conscious Uncoupling – a sensible attitude to divorce?

Such is the world of celebrity that Ms Paltrow felt compelled to share the news of her marriage breakdown to the Coldplay frontman through an online essay of some 2,000 words. Given the pressures of that kind of lifestyle, it is perhaps a minor triumph that the couple’s relationship difficulties and their attempts to resolve them over the last year have remained private, until now.

Gwyneth’s ‘conscious uncoupling’ news could be down to a lack of self- awareness on her part or perhaps it was a clever attempt to deflect attention away from a potentially far more painful analysis of the couple’s difficulties by the world’s press. The choice of language has simply offered a far more interesting discussion.

The concept has been greeted with derision and contempt  in most quarters and will no doubt be appropriated by satirists for many months to come, but I think that to dismiss the idea as simply another example of ‘psycho babble’ is to miss a rather important point.

Let’s turn it on its head. Whether you choose to marry or cohabit, most people would say they are making a ‘conscious’ choice to share their life with another. In my view ‘conscious coupling’ should include consideration as to the division of assets and the care of any children, should the relationship should break down at a later date. Pre-nuptial agreements can avoid damaging and costly confrontational court battles, should the worst happen, as it sometimes does.

It may be too soon to know how Ms Paltrow and Mr Martin will conduct their divorce. They are both wealthy and successful people in their own right but if they carry through their stated desire for ‘conscious uncoupling’ to mean putting the welfare and happiness of their two young children first, then I wholeheartedly applaud their approach.

Relationship breakdown is always sad and from Ms Paltrow’s own account the decision to separate has not been taken lightly nor has it happened hastily. Seeking help and trying to resolve the difficulties as a couple, rather than apportioning blame sounds measured, thoughtful and caring – of each other – and of the family they have made together.

In my view ‘conscious uncoupling’ is another way of describing collaborative divorce – a smooth and civilised process for couples to achieve an amicable separation.  If, in the months to come this particular couple achieve this, they will not only be protecting their children’s interests, they will also deny the detractors the celebrity slanging match they are so keen to see. That really would be a victory for ‘conscious uncoupling.’

You can follow us on Twitter @helpwithdivorce