Thursday, March 27, 2014

Conscious Uncoupling

So, yeah, Gwyneth Paltrow and her husband, Chris Martin are getting a divorce.
Now I gotta tell you, I don't give one good damn about those people in any sort of real-life way. Ms. Paltrow never struck me as one of the most talented of actresses, although I could be wrong in my opinion and I just this very second went and checked out her lifestyle blog, for the first time and it's about what I thought it would be, all New-Agey and just chock full of great advice on how to live and shop and eat and exercise and be a parent, blah, blah, blah, although of course, all of that advice would mostly be valuable if you lived on the same planet she does, which I do not.
I think she's a sincere and lovely woman, though, and I know nothing at all about her husband except that he's a musician from Great Britain.
So why do I care that they're getting a divorce?
Well, it's this whole phrase of "conscious uncoupling" which they're choosing to call what they're doing and it freaks me out divorce really supposed to be like that?
Conscious uncoupling?
As if they were two train cars that are now just going to be uncoupled and sent on their merry ways to travel different rails? After ten years and two children together?

I've been divorced. And although my ex-husband and I are now on the very best of terms imaginable and I consider him and his wife to be very good friends, it was not ever thus. We had to consciously (yes) work very, very hard to get over the emotional train wreck that divorce was for us. I had grown up without a father and he had too and I knew how much children needed a father who was present in their lives. And by god, we had to swallow a lot of anger and we had to get past a hell of a lot of hurt and it took years for us to achieve what we have achieved.
And yet- still- when I think back on what it felt like to tear my little family asunder, even now, knowing as I do know that it was the right decision for everyone involved, my heart still quakes.
And we're talking thirty-four years now.
I will never get over the trauma of that and I doubt my kids will either, no matter what they say.

And so when I hear that Paltrow and Martin are blithely announcing this conscious uncoupling thing and claiming to still love each other so very much, and acting as if all were just a joyful little change in living arrangements, I think that either (a) they must be lying their fucking heads off, (b) they are very, very shallow people, or (c) they really and truly are way more evolved and cool and spiritual than I ever dreamed of being.

And if it's (c), well then good for them and maybe the world is changing and facing the reality that many, many couples do not stay married forever.
But somehow, I just don't believe that.
Humans are humans. Two people who still love each other tremendously don't just up and decide to get divorced. Especially if they have kids. Something happened or a lot of somethings happened and the things that happen which make people decide to get divorced are usually far more hurtful and deep than "he never puts his clothes in the laundry hamper," or "she doesn't spend enough time with me."

And it's none of my business what happened and quite frankly I do not care. But what I do care about is this very false image that divorce can just be a small bump in the road, a furthering along of the spiritual and material path of two people and their children. It strikes me as ridiculous and silly word-play. It strikes me as a lie.

And about as helpful as the tips on Goop about how best to live.

But you know, maybe on the planet these people live on, divorce can be so very different than what it's like for us down here in the trenches. We don't fly first class, we don't spray active silver around us on flights to keep the germs at bay, we don't eat kale at every meal and we don't have Tracy Anderson as our personal friends and trainers. We also don't have Oprah or world famous spiritual leaders on speed dial to help us through the rough patches nor do we have all the money in the world to spend on buying the moving-out spouse another mansion within walking distance so that co-parenting can be a breeze.

We ain't got none of that.

So we do the best we can with what we do have and sometimes all that consists of is grit and determination and an overwhelming desire to make sure our children feel safe and loved even as their worlds are torn apart.

And there's nothing fun or lighthearted or blithe in that at all.
There wasn't in my experience, anyway.

Instead, there were years of nights of tears and self-recrimination and bitterness and deep, dark depression and anger and guilt and hard, hard work to rebuild myself, my life, my children's lives.
And there had to be grace and love on the part of not only me and my ex-husband but on the part of his wife and my husband. There had to be acceptance and sacrifice.
And not one damn bit of it came about through magical thinking or magical labeling.

Maybe I'm wrong. Maybe divorce doesn't have to be that way.

What do you think? I'd like to know.

Love...Ms. Moon


  1. Honey-I'll never stop feeling guilty that I got divorced because it hurt the kids so much. upended their world. And now they're grown and we talk about it and my daughter is getting divorced and their son is pissed off, really pissed off. My parents weren't great parents and who knows what I'd have been like if they had split up but they didn't and here I am, in the soup. Gweneth and her ilk don't live where we do. Money doesn't heal anything but sometimes it sure helps. Yours. B

  2. The way it was put up on Goop is a prime example of why everyone hates Gwyneth (I do not, but I am a HUGE Coldplay fan so does that make me "team Chris?") she's just so damn smug and wordy.
    Personally, for me, I've never believed in divorce. For me. Mostly because I knew I had a good one and I'd do what I could to keep him (he feels the same, lest anyone think it's one sided.) I do believe in divorce though. Some people just aren't meant to be together for a long time and that's okay. I think the sooner in life that people are happy, the better.
    I think it should be harder to get married. Or we should do away with the whole ceremony of it all and people should just be with who they want. Life is too short to be miserable with the wrong person.
    Is that a ridiculous way to think?

  3. It's been about 25 years since my parents got divorced when I was six. I can say without one single doubt that then, and now, it has brought my greatest inconveniences, my biggest sources of drama (stepfamilies) and tore me into tiny pieces in alot of ways.

    It has simultaneously handed me my biggest blessings in my entire life. This only child went to an aunt ten times over with 3 sisters and a brother.'s been wonderful but also undoubtedly been hard. On me, on my parents (well, my mother) and the guilt I felt that my mother felt bad. It is a vicious cycle but it just is what it fucking is. If I could go back and do it all over again, I don't think any of us would regret any of it. But it was and continues to be a long and winding road.

  4. Lisa- Thanks for the FB share! I really appreciate that.

    Beth- I believe that sometimes divorce is the best thing. Sometimes it is the only thing. Doesn't make it one fucking bit easier. Not one.
    And if my mother had divorced my stepfather, I think I would have felt completely different about her. In a very good way.
    And yes- I think there are a lot of people who would be infinitely better off getting divorced but just cannot afford it and that is wrong too.

    heartinhand- No. I don't think that's a ridiculous way to think at all. In some ways, marriage is such a weird and artificial cultural thing. I do love being married to my husband now. But it's not for everyone by any means. And yes- I agree- it's a little too darn easy to get married. If you want to marry someone of the opposite sex, at least.

    SJ- Yes. It is a reality and as with most things, blessings and curses fall from it.
    I love you that you can see both sides.
    I wish that there was some switch that people could turn on when they got married that would ensure that they would love each other fully and joyfully for the rest of their lives.
    There sure ain't, though.

  5. No, your are not wrong. Divorce is devastating and renaming it isn't going to take away the collateral damage. My ex and I will be ameniable with each other when we need to, but it is more of a political move than a friendship. I still get angry when I see the damage that is permantently done to my children, especially my daughter.

  6. Yeah, I read that...and nearly "gooped" on my shoes.

  7. I am feeling very, very bored by the whole Gwyneth Paltrow story except for your interpretation. And that's all I'll say about that.

  8. I have to tell you, and I am speaking honestly here, I haven't got a shred of trauma or bad feeling about you and dad getting divorced. None. I feel that it was a blessing in all ways. Double holidays, amazing step-parents, more siblings, a great template on how to stay close with exes - hell, if y'all had stayed married I would never have had a grandfather. Instead, I had two and they were truly great men to have in my life. So many of the best things I have ever known came from you and dad breaking up and being adults about it. Thank you for getting divorced, working to stay friends, and then marrying my Glen dad. From the bottom, most honest part of my heart.

  9. I got a divorce from my high school sweetheart 33 years ago. Luckily, there were no kids whose lives we would have upended. My dear hubby, on the other hand, had two small kids when his ex announced that she wanted to be married to someone else. My hubby, to this day, has never said anything bad about her to their kids (they're now 35 and 38). Dear mom, on the other hand, said horrible things about him, then me when I showed up. I actually went to counseling to learn how to be a good step-parent. It was a rough road, but I've got two kids that call me Mama C, and six grandkids that are the light of my life. Oh, and Gwyneth Paltrow is NUTS! You can 'uncouple' all you want, but your kids are going through a divorce!

  10. Oh, and what Mr. Downtown said is SO sweet! See, you done good!

  11. Lisa- Keep being polite. Keep keeping it amiable. Look at what my son said a few comments down. It pays off. It truly does.

    Denise- Me too.

    Elizabeth- I don't care about her either but I just had to say something about the terms being used in this divorce. I mean...really?

    Mr. Downtown- How did I get so lucky as to be your mama? I swear. But you are exactly right about the grand dads. You got two of the finest ones that ever walked the earth. Both completely different and yet- such good, great men. I love you so much. You've made me cry and it's not even 8:30 in the morning.

    Catrina- We can't control how others act, can we? But we can control (mostly) how we act, react. Be proud that you did all you could to be a good stepmama. Hardest job in the world.

  12. I think it depends on what world you live in and obviously GP's world is totally different and my imagination says that they both probably have already moved on.

    I've been married three times and I look at each marriage as a different segment of my life that needed different kinds of people. My first husband was when we were 18 and we divorced at 25 when we began to view life differently and wanted different things. Same with the others and now that I'm 66 I'm very happy with living alone. Being alone fits this part of my life.

    However, I am not religious person nor a traditionalist by any means and never did look at marriage as a life long commitment. It was more like this is good now and for how ever long it lasts. Also, I think kids can be much worse off in a marriage in which the people are unhappy with each other.

  13. Well, there's a book called the Good Divorce that talks about how to do it in less self-conscious terms than 'conscious uncoupling' and it's pretty well respected. I got it, haven't read it yet as I don't have the stones or the money to actually uncouple fully.

    I think it's too easy for everyone to piss on this particular celeb couple for splitting up. Sounds better than the alternative divorce to me. They're not going to be a couple anymore, but they're going to extricate their lives from each other's with good faith and awareness and love, and presumably keep parenting together with good intent even if they're no longer a couple. I'm all for it, even if they may find it harder than they think. Given the wealth they have, it'll probably be easy enough, though - if I could affford two mansions side by side connected by a walkway, as I do in my wildest dreams, I'd be in there in a heart beat.

  14. I haven't read Gwyneth's "conscious uncoupling" post but I'm kind of surprised at how much everyone rails against her. I always kind of liked her. But I haven't read her web site -- maybe that's why.

    Anyway, I'm sure it's easier to contain the practical life-wreckage and perhaps even the emotional wreckage of divorce when you're wealthy and you have "people" to help you through it all. My mom STILL isn't over my parents' divorce, and that was in 1974!

  15. Love Hank's comment. It's good to see.

  16. I like conscious coupling myself--it feels so good. Seriously, having been married to the same woman now for years, I can't imagine life without her. We have had many ups and downs but we still love each other. Now for some coupling.....


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