Conscious Uncoupling: What You Need To Know

Katherine Woodward Thomas

And you'll be glad to know it has nothing to do with Gwyneth Paltrow and Chris Martin.

I've spent the last five days simultaneously laughing, shaking my head and rolling my eyes at the phrase 'conscious uncoupling'. Without intending to, Paltrow and Martin doubled the coverage of their entirely pedestrian marital development by using such a ridiculous term. And for those of us who — despite liking their professional work — thought the two of them were annoying, the use of such a term went to show that, well, they were.

And so, it was with much surprise that I read an article in today's New York Times Style section about the psychotherapist who coined the term, and thought, "Wow, conscious uncoupling is a great approach to divorce".

What You Need To Know

To quote the article (and Katherine Woodward Thomas, the divorced psycotherapist responsible for the term): "It is essentially a no-drama approach to that protects the children and encourages both sides to avoid pointing fingers."

Thomas is upfront about the fact she didn't come up with the term herself; a divorcing friend of hers stumbled upon it in a conversation, and Thomas asked if she could use it. Since then, she's created an online course on how to do it, and is working on a book proposal (that will no doubt now sell for double).

While no one wants their marriage to end in divorce, you can't tell me that as far as divorce philosophies go, that doesn't sound pretty good. We've all seen how ugly divorces can get, be it up close or in the papers, and how it can drive decent people to act otherwise.

What You Don't Really Need to Know

Apparently, the no-drama approach only extends to divorce, because there's already trouble afoot. Two married doctors (one of which is Paltrow's holistic doctor) wrote an article on Paltrow's website about what 'conscious uncoupling' means, and neglected to credit, or even mention, Thomas, who coined the term, owns the URL, and knows the two doctors. Thomas doesn't know Paltrow or Martin.

For the cynics amongst us, Paltrow and Martin have ruined the term. But it's now in the vernacular, so perhaps there's hope the concept could become mainstream, too.