The chances are you’ll have seen last week’s media coverage of Gwyneth Paltrow and Chris Martin’s impending divorce or ‘conscious uncoupling,’ as Gwyneth Paltrow put it.
This break-up looks likely to be very different to some of the celebrity divorces that we’ve seen in the past as ‘with hearts full of sadness’, one of the most famous couples in the world go their own way after eleven years of marriage.
Paltrow’s lifestyle website published a statement from the couple, saying that they are planning on co-parenting their children and was accompanied by a manifesto written by Dr Habib Sadeghi, the founder of an ‘integrative health centre’ in Los Angeles, and his wife, Dr Sherry Sami, a paediatric dentist, explaining the concept of ‘conscious uncoupling.’ To the uninitiated here in the UK this all sounds a little unusual to say the least, but in California it seems to be the latest way to divorce.
Dr Sadeghi and Dr Sami explain the concept and begin by pointing out that the human lifespan is considerably longer than it once was and that our long lives must signal an end to our ‘happily ever after’ idea of marriage. In analysing a typical marriage, the Doctors say that newlyweds tend to idolise their spouse and that when reality finally hits home, it hits that much harder. Rather than projecting positive qualities onto our partners, we begin to project the negative, leading to a distressing ‘boomerang effect.’ They also add that a mistake that many people make is to put up an external shield, rather like the exoskeleton of an insect, and that this shield can become ‘a form of self-imprisonment that locks us inside a life that repeats the same mistakes over and over again.’
According to Dr Sadeghi and Dr Sami, life should instead be seen as a spiritual evolution, from exoskeleton through to endoskeleton and that we should accept our vulnerability and exploit our flexibility to help us absorb outside blows. In their article they write that: “To change the concept of divorce, we need to release the belief structures we have around marriage that create rigidity in our thought process.
“The belief structure is the all-or-nothing idea that when we marry, it’s for life. The truth is the only thing any of us have is today. Beyond that there are no guarantees. The idea of being married to one person for life is too much pressure for anyone. In fact, it would be interesting to see how much easier couples might commit to each other by thinking of their relationship in terms of daily renewal instead of a lifetime investment.
“This is probably the reason why so many people say their long-term relationships changed overnight, once they got married. The people didn’t change, but the expectation did.”
The answer, according to Dr Sadeghi and Dr Sami, is to see the end of a marriage in an altogether different way and for both partners in a relationship that is failing to accept the other as their teacher: “By choosing to handle your coupling in a conscious way, regardless of what’s happening with your spouse, you’ll see that although it looks like everything is coming apart; it’s actually all coming back together.”
Things haven’t always been plain sailing for Paltrow and Martin and Vanity Fair magazine were said to be investigating a piece on an alleged fair between Paltrow and a Miami billionaire. Paltrow denied the rumours but in September last year she admitted that her marriage hadn’t always been easy and that she and Martin had had ‘big ups and downs.’ In an interview for Glamour magazine, Paltrow said: “It’s hard being married. You go through great times, you go through terrible times. We’re the same as any couples. I asked my dad once, ‘How did you and Mum stay married for 33 years?’ and he said, ‘Well, we never wanted to get divorced at the same time.’ And I think that’s what happens. When two people throw in the towel at the same time, then you break up, but one person’s saying, ‘come on, we can do this,’ you carry on.”