Many people around the world sniggered when Gwyneth Paltrow and Chris Martin issued the announcement of their separation last week. Their statement was titled “Conscious uncoupling”, and my first response was also a dramatic eye roll.
Celebs like Gwyneth don’t even get divorced like the rest of us. They wrap it up in some new-age terminology and make it sound like a spiritual process.
Divorce is a good thing
Now, I am the first to defend divorce. It’s a difficult, heartbreaking process to go through (although I haven’t myself), but I think that it’s empowering for people – especially for women – that modern society allows us to remove ourselves from a partnership that’s making us unhappy.
I hear people carrying on about how because it’s so easy to get divorced these days, people don’t work at their marriages anymore, and I think (or sometimes say aloud, and unpopularly), so what?
Compromising your happiness to stay with someone who is driving you up the wall isn’t a positive thing. It’s starting over that’s hard, but I always admire people who free themselves from a relationship that isn’t working, rather than accepting mediocrity and unhappiness in exchange for security.
But divorce is tough. It’s hard on the couple that are uncoupling, and it’s hard on the children – and even, to a certain extent, their friends and family. Of course, no one would expect celebrity supercouple to issue a statement saying, “We hate each other a little bit right now, but we believe it’s for the best and we’re trying to put on a brave face for the kids.”
The problem with Paltrow – although I am not one of the people who think she’s the worst person on Earth – is that she exists in a little Paltrow bubble in which her perceptions of herself and her world are all that contain her. While we all exist within a world of our own experience (who else’s would we use?), she puts it out there guilelessly.
When I shared the “conscious uncoupling” link on my Facebook page with some snarky comment, two people pointed out that while her statement might be wrapped up in hippie mumbo jumbo, the sentiment is actually pretty decent. They’ve grown apart, they care for each other, and they’re trying to make it work for their kids. Best of luck to them.
Their divorce may get messy – the majority seem to – and their kids might suffer. Or perhaps they will be able to navigate a pleasant route through the treacherous emotions and create a situation that works for everyone.
While they will be able to afford the best therapy money can buy, and impediments like great geographic distances between them won’t present too much of a challenge, they’ll struggle and fall or overcome just like regular people.
So, I raise my glass to Gwyneth and Chris and to countless other couples who have taken responsibility for their positive futures by choosing to separate, and wish them all the best in creating a modern family situation that works for everyone. And I’m sorry for the eye roll.
– Georgina Guedes is a freelance writer. You can follow @georginaguedes on Twitter.