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Published: Friday April 4, 2014 MYT 12:00:00 AM
Updated: Friday April 4, 2014 MYT 8:21:14 AM

Celeb vocabulary: 'Conscious uncoupling'

Gwyneth Paltrow (left) and Chris Martin have called it quits after 10 years of marriage, but avoiding the 'D' word.

Gwyneth Paltrow (left) and Chris Martin have called it quits after 10 years of marriage, but avoiding the 'D' word.

Gwyneth Paltrow and Chris Martin are getting a divorce but saying theirs is different, more evolved.

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 blasé about.

These days, we give celebrity break-ups approximately the same attention as celebrities 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 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.”

Everyone clear now? No, OK, let me try and decode the jargon for you.

Basically, the message Paltrow and Martin are trying to convey in about 2,000 words is this: “We did not do anything wrong. We are still better than you.”

Like it or not, society has sort of attached the stigma of failure on the end of a marriage. Most people look at it as either as a couple having given up or having made some very bad decisions over the course of marriage.

It is a painful, messy affair that often leaves the parties involved scarred in some profound ways.

Paltrow and Martin, however, are determined not to have any of that fallout. It’s almost certain that the reason they are getting divorced is no different from the reasons other normal people get divorced, but they are determined to justify to someone, perhaps themselves, that this is different.

They are more self-actualised and evolved. They are better and more wholesome than that. Divorce is for little souls.

The operative word here is “conscious”. What they are trying to say is: “We could stay married if we wanted to and be perfectly happy. We still love each other very much. But we realised that if we were to separate it would be more in line with our human auras and global feng shui so we went ahead and did that.

“But let us be clear that this is not like one of your lousy civilian divorces where it is just two idiots who couldn’t make it work. We can, we simply consciously chose to take the enlightened path and fulfil our biological destinies. If two beautiful, successful people cannot make this work, it must mean that there is something wrong with marriage and not us. Anyone still married is not fully self-actualised or living in a loveless union.”

In other words, you know how when you screw up massively, you try and tell yourself that it really was not your fault. The circumstances at the time meant that this was the best decision for you to make and it will be better in the long run. And if you lost something you wanted, you try and convince yourself that you are better off without it and then try and convince everyone else that they shouldn’t want it either.

But maybe they have done a big favour to the institution of marriage, despite all attempts to suggest that it is flawed. With the idea now getting criticised and mocked by all and sundry, maybe more couples will be determined to stay together, lest they too get accused of consciously uncoupling. – The Straits Times, Singapore/Asia News Network

Tags / Keywords: Lifestyle, Family & Community, Conscious Uncoupling; Divorce; Gwyneth Paltrow; Chris Martin; Family

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