Category: Psychological Topics of Interest

In defense of “conscious uncoupling.”

Posted on August 3, 2015

Gwyneth Paltrow is in the celebrity news cycle again regarding her divorce from Coldplay frontman Chris Martin. This time she is setting the record straight that she was not author of the infamous term “conscious uncoupling.” She now credits the editor of her blog where she first made her divorce public.

But this time she is no longer backing away from the term as she first did after a hail of negativity following her initial announcement.

I haven’t formally cataloged the hew and cry over Conscious Uncoupling, but let me see if I can tap into why it became a furious object of derision.

Describing a divorce as a conscious uncoupling comes off as a little precious. Many people with complicated, angry, spiteful divorces might think, “I am barely surviving and these people sound as if they splitting up because they got a little bored with each other. Save your sympathy!”
In the court of public opinion celebraties often get a pass for all sorts of behaviour or else are judged twice as harsh. Here again envy could be at play. If someone can sound so civil about separating, shouldn’t they work harder at staying together?
Who does one root for in a conscious uncoupling? We are given no indication of who the bad guy is (let alone the bad actor, well maybe some have opinions on this topic). Judge Judy would lose all her ratings if she had to preside over cases like this.
For people from the East Coast there is a certain New Agey quality to the term that qualifies for a smug smack down. See The New Yorker March 26, 2014 for example of this line of attack.