“Conscious Uncoupling” has become a punchline in social (and other) media lately and after reading about it on Gwyneth Paltrow’s blog, Goop, I’m equally as fascinated by the term as everyone else seems to be.
Obviously, yes, it’s a fancy way of saying the end of a marriage is nigh, however, the theory behind it is intriguing to me. Here’s the article in a nutshell:
“As divorce rates indicate, human beings haven’t been able to fully adapt to our skyrocketing life expectancy. Our biology and psychology aren’t set up to be with one person for four, five, or six decades.”
“From this perspective, there are no bad guys, just two people, each playing teacher and student respectively. When we understand that both are actually partners in each other’s spiritual progress, animosity dissolves much quicker and a new paradigm for conscious uncoupling emerges, replacing the traditional, contentious divorce.”
In other words, ’40 is the new dead’ and somehow we are supposed to be comforted by this because everything beyond that is just a bonus when it comes to marriage? I’m not endorsing or denying this philosophy, but it has got me thinking about what loaded labels “married” and “divorced” are, especially for women.
As it happens, this weekend is one of my favorite of the year. It’s pageant weekend, y’all! As a former Mrs. Kansas, theoretically I was a representative for married women for my entire state, which is hilarious because the fact that I was a married woman walking across a stage in Vegas with giant crown and sash while wearing 4 inch heels (at my height of 5’10”) is probably the least relatable thing about me.
Totally normal, right?
Casual lunch date with the hubby in Vegas. Just doin’ my job.
Don’t you guys all have pictures like this?
Let me be clear, I think the person I am and the work I did for charity while I held the title (and continue to do) are very relatable, but being in a pageant is a fun, “out-there” thing to do; it’s not a common experience most women share. I still keep up on Facebook with some of the ladies I competed with and without even looking, I can think of at least 4 who have divorced their husbands since they competed in 2010. I don’t know the state-by-state statistics but I’m guessing that’s relatable.
I also read Lean In by Sheryl Sandberg (for my book club) and I’m currently reading the transcript of the Arthur M. Schlesinger Jr. seven part interview with Jacqueline Kennedy. So right there, these three books represent the points of view of 19th, 20th, and 21st century women. I didn’t set out to read these three together on purpose, but it made for interesting comparison. What struck me about Pride and Prejudice is how quickly they decided to marry someone after first meeting them. According to my extensive research (googled it) the life expectancy during Jane Austen’s time was around 40 years old. Every co-ed social gathering during that era was essentially Match.com. You had to snap up your future hubby before he rode his horse to another town and was incommunicado or just died of extreme old age at 46.
Cut to the 20th century (extra smart points if you knew JFK lived until age 46.) What does it have to do with (my beloved) Jackie? I have read every Jackie Kennedy book I can get my hands on and I have always wondered what their story would look like today against the backdrop of our culture of sex tapes and Twitter picture scandals.
Would JFK’s legendary affairs have been headline news?
Would Jackie have been seen today as more of a polarizing Hillary/Huma-type for staying with her husband, rather than the classy and glamorous style icon she was?
Would Elizabeth Bennett be more of a Sheryl Sandberg-type, competing with Mr. Darcy and Mr. Bingley for equal pay in the workforce?
I’m fairly certain Lydia “Lohan” Bennett would be in rehab.
I guess my point is, I really like Gwyneth Paltrow’s 21st century, out-of-touch, new age pretentiousness. I find it very entertaining and isn’t that her job? An entertainer? I ‘get it’ that the fact that she comes across as someone who has deluded herself into thinking she’s relatable to working moms is the reason her over-the-top comments are so funny (just look here and here if you don’t know what I’m talking about.) Even if “conscious uncoupling” does sound like a pretentious way of saying “divorce,” I think the intent is to handle her separation with dignity and avoid the loaded labels of “married” and “divorced.”
I had my husband read this to get his thoughts and for the record, he thinks the term “conscious uncoupling” is “stupid.” He said you can’t go to court and get “consciously uncoupled” so it’s basically pointless.
(Side note: I just informed him Gwyneth is friends with Jay-Z and Beyonce so if anyone wants to start a Twitter rap feud he said they can send all tweets to @KuhlGuy where they will be promptly ignored. I love him.)
Every wedding ever.