When Gwyneth Paltrow and Chris Martin announced their divorce in 2014 by saying they had decided to “consciously uncouple,” they inspired a meme. But nearly a decade later, the Goop founder is glad she and her ex popularized the term. On April 28, she opened up about her experience with the phrase during an Instagram question-and-answer session on her Instagram Story.
“I definitely did not coin the phrase, but I feel despite us taking quite a lot of sh*t for it when we first announced that all these years ago, I feel very proud that we were able to, maybe, make some divorces a little bit easier, happier,” she shared.
Paltrow and Martin announced their split in a post on the “Iron Man” actor’s Goop website. Their use of the term “conscious uncoupling” led to an increased interest in the phrase, which was originally coined by marriage and family therapist Katherine Woodward Thomas. In fact, Goop published a follow-up essay further explaining how reframing the idea of divorce can lead to a healthier transition for families.
The essay read in part, “Naturally, divorce is much easier if both parties choose to have a conscious uncoupling. However, your experience and personal growth isn’t conditional on whether or not your spouse chooses to participate. You can still receive the lessons he or she has to give you, resist being baited into dramatic arguments, and stand firm in your internal, spiritual support system. By choosing to handle your uncoupling 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.”
For Paltrow and Martin, the idea helped them continue to provide a strong foundation for their children, Apple and Moses. In a 2019 appearance on Dax Shepard’s “Armchair Expert,” Paltrow opened up about what consciously uncoupling meant for her family, as well as how people’s negative reaction to the term made an already difficult time more difficult.
She explained that it felt like a “layer of the world turning on us about saying, essentially, we just want to be nice to each other and stay a family.” Paltrow added, “It was brutal. I already felt like I had no skin on.”
Ultimately, the public’s reaction to the term didn’t change the fact that the concept made her and Martin’s divorce easier to navigate. “The most common wound that I heard from children of divorce was, ‘My parents couldn’t be in the same room and couldn’t be friends,” she explained. “I just thought, ‘I wonder if there’s a way to circumvent that and go directly to the point where we’re friends and we remember what we loved about each other, and constantly acknowledge that we created these incredible human beings together.'”
She continued, “We’re a family, that’s it. We can pretend we’re not and hate each other . . . or, [we can] try to reinvent this for ourselves.”