When Gwyneth Paltrow announced that she was “consciously uncoupling” from Chris Martin several months ago, I heard the whoosh of a small intentional practice launch into the mainstream. And in turn, suddenly get sexy.
The Martin/Paltrow family is highlighting a transformation in our culture, away from the polarized litigated divorce where one parent wins and the other loses and the children lose all cohesiveness. In our traditional system, personal transgressions are aired for a judge (and the rest of the world) to pick apart. It attempts to fit the complexity of human error and responsive error into the neat boxes of right and wrong. It operates as though it is in the best interest of the children to live with the least wrong parent and visit the most wrong parent, rather than to continue to see both parents in a positive light. Since it is virtually impossible to restore decent working relations after a litigated fight, kids live in the scorched earth left behind. We have loads of research and cultural belief about the negative effect of divorce in this context, but virtually no information about the impact on children when the divorce is handled with grace.
Gwyneth and Chris have (ostensibly) chosen to prioritize their children’s well-being over their bank accounts and pride. They are opting to work together to raise them as a family, even though they are ending their romantic relationship. This approach doesn’t take celebritydom or spiritual advancement. It’s a natural choice, one that many normal people take every day. Gwyneth just gave it a cool name.
In many ways, nothing is more natural than continuing to prioritize our children after we end our relationship, but our culture has fallen into a habit of prioritizing personal pride and financial gain when we divorce. In part this is due to our fascination with the drama, exemplified by far too many high-profile divorces. As a nation, we’re fascinated by our celebrities. We want them to both entertain and inspire us. We want to be just like them and we want them to be FABULOUS! So when a pair as famous as these two decide to make a public statement about divorce, all eyes are upon them.
With this situation as inspiration, I have joined with two stellar attorneys, Katherine Langley and Eva Clement, to offer a free class on Conscious Uncoupling for the everyday person. Most of us don’t know where to begin the process of separating our lives from a partner, dividing assets and liabilities, making plans for our children and making it all legal. The 1 ½ hour class will offer a road-map to allow participants to choose the path that is right for them, with an emphasis on doing it with the least amount of scorched earth. The class is for men and women, married and unmarried, gay and straight, with children and without. We also welcome therapists, clergy and others who offer assistance. It will be on Thursday, June 18 at 5:30 p.m. at 149 S. Lexington in Asheville NC. Here’s more information.