Feature

‘Conscious uncoupling’: Rebranding divorce

After sharing 11 years and two kids Gwyneth Paltrow and Chris Martin plan to—um—“consciously uncouple.”

After sharing 11 years, two kids, and “eight tons of steamed kale together,” Gwyneth Paltrow and Chris Martin are splitting up, said Jan Moir in the Daily Mail (U.K.). But the Hollywood actress and the Coldplay singer will experience no ordinary, bitter, family-smashing divorce. Oh, no. In an “irony-free chunk of classic Paltrow pretentiousness,” the self-appointed lifestyle guru announced via her website goop.com last week that she and Chris would instead “consciously uncouple.” While co-parenting their two children, Apple, 9, and Moses, 7, from the comfort of their new, $14 million Malibu home, the pair will work on spiritually separating without judgment, in the kind of holistic experience “you’d order at a well-being spa, along with the coffee enema.” Underneath that sunny, new age baloney, said Jessica Grose in Slate.com, is the message that accompanies all Goop productions: “Even Gwyneth’s separation is better than yours.”

“‘Conscious uncoupling’ is psychobabble for people who can’t say D-I-V-O-R-C-E,” said Robin Abcarian in the Los Angeles Times. Attached to the couple’s announcement was an essay by two doctors explaining that divorce is natural in an era of longer life spans, since human beings aren’t built to stay in love for 50 years. What hogwash. Most divorces occur in the first 10 years of marriage. When two rich, coddled stars can’t stay together because they’re so used to having everything they want, it’s easier to rely on some “fake sociobiology” than to admit, “Hey, we screwed it up.”

Still, beneath all the Goop-ism is an interesting idea, said Christina Pesoli in HuffingtonPost.com. Now that one in two marriages ends in divorce, maybe it’s better to split up without all the toxic acrimony and finger-pointing. And if Gwyneth and Chris can pull off a mature and supportive separation, “no one will benefit more than their kids.” So let’s cut Gwyneth some slack, said Paul Whitefield in the Los Angeles Times. “I ‘uncoupled’ once,” and it’s very hard. You build a life with someone, and then tear it all apart. You have to tell your friends, your co-workers, and most painfully of all, your kids. That hurts whether “you’re a celebrity or Mr. and Mrs. Joe Six Pack.” So if it eases the pain a bit to call it “conscious uncoupling”—“well, why not.”

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