Gweneth Paltrow recently announced her "conscious uncoupling" from Chris Martin. The pair escaped to an island in the Bahamas, clearly to avoid the media frenzy that would follow the announcement.
As word got out, you could hear the cries of "what the hell is a Conscious Uncoupling?" and what does it mean? After all, we are bombarded daily with news of viscious celebrity splits and the ensuing war of words. He said and she said melts down into a tabloid rush if who can win the prize for the worst mud slinging and name calling.
Gweneth and Chris clearly decided to go a different direction, swimming against the stream and actually make healthy choices when it came to ending their marriage. Finally, adults who can behave like adults and approach the ending of their marriage with dignity.
Divorce is never easy. Clearly, adults don't enter into marriage with the plan on having a knock down and drag it out attack on each other's character and integrity. We jump in believing in the fairytale and planning to live happily ever after. Along come children and the pressures and stress of raising a family and couples question their compatability.
Numerous studies show that having children puts incredible stress on a couples' relationship. Increasing arguements and disagreements over things that didn't seem to cause problems before the kids.
Studies show 4 in 10 marriages end in divorce before the 8th year of marriage. That's a lot of marriages that struggle and find no resolution in remaining married.
So, what does a "conscious uncoupling" mean for the average couple?
1. Decide what matters most: Couples who make a conscious choice to put the welfare of their children first on their list of concers will find they have an easier time making the big decisions. Choices regarding shared custody, living arrangements, extracurricular activites and so much more become easier as you ensure the peace and happiness of your children is maintained.
2. Divorce does not mean war: Just because you no longer desire to be a couple does not dictate you must hate each other. Yes, there are bitter divorces and situations that can not be amicably resolved. It's unfortunate when marriages end in divorce and even more so when they end bitterly. Making the conscious decision to NOT allow the ending of your marriage to boil down into a war is a much healthier way to go.
3. The only thing you can control about the situation is how you feel and how you react: You can not force someone to behave or feel the way you want them to. Take control of how you will behave and the legacy you will leave your children after the marriage ends. Be conscious in your choice of how you will behave post divorce.
4. Your children do not need to know the details: As much as we want to be right or justified in our position relating to the divorce, your children do not need to know the gory details about how the marriage ending. A conscious uncoupling puts your child's emotional and mental health ahead of the adults need to be right. Keep the details for your lawyer or therapist.
5. If your life was made into a movie, would you be proud of the role you played: Consider that every single thing you say and do during and after the divorce is splashed across the big screen. Would you proudly star in that movie? Be conscious of your words and behavior. This isn't about hiding how you feel, but making the conscious choice to be the best you can be, in spite of the challenges.
6. Put first things first: Your children come first. They must be the central driving factor in the decisions you make. You want to give them every opportunity to reach adulthood with a healthy view of marriage and relationships, even when your marriage did not last. Give them the knowledge and assurance that it was a conscious choice you and your spouse made to ensure that life was better for everyone, not just the adults.
I hope the term "conscious uncoupling" becomes more prominent when we speak about divorce. Children never have any say in a marriage ending, so giving them every opportunity to grow and maintain a healthy relationship with both parents should be the central goal of couples who consciously decide to end their marriage.