Not a bitter parting

Published Mar 28, 2014, 4:34 am IST
Updated Apr 8, 2019, 8:44 am IST
The new terminology can be looked at in variety of ways in a couple's separation
Gwyneth Paltrow and Chris Martin  -  Image- AP
 Gwyneth Paltrow and Chris Martin - Image- AP

They’re not calling it a split, a separation or a divorce. Instead, when Chris Martin and Gwyneth Paltrow announced to their fans that they were parting ways after 10 years of marriage, they used the phrase “conscious uncoupling”.

Under a post on her website Goop, titled ‘Unconscious Coupling’, Gwyn and Chris wrote: “It is with hearts full of sadness that we have decided to separate. We have been working hard for well over a year, some of it together, some of it separated, to see what might have been possible between us, and we have come to the conclusion that while we love each other very much we will remain separate. We are, however, and always will be a family, and in many ways we are closer than we have ever been. We are parents first and foremost, to two incredibly wonderful children and we ask for their and our space and privacy to be respected at this difficult time. We have always conducted our relationship privately, and we hope that as we consciously uncouple and co-parent, we will be able to continue in the same manner.”


The phrase seems to have the Internet in a tizzy, with many analysing just what it means. Apparently a term coined by Dr Habib Sadeghi and Dr Sherry Sami (a couple who’ve been described as Gwyn’s spiritual advisers), it encompasses the decision of two individuals to stop being a couple, but still continue with other joint relationships, such as parenting children if any, in the most amicable way possible.

The new terminology can be looked at in a wide variety of ways within the context of a couple’s separation. Image consultant Chetna Mehrotra points out that the names we give relationships are themselves “labels”, so using a new label to describe a break-up is perfectly all right.  


“The whole idea of creating a label or giving a tag to a relationship is to enjoy the benefits that come with that tag. So when you use a label like this, you’re avoiding the negativity that is associated with ‘divorce’ or ‘break-up’,” Chetna explains.

She adds that as long as the label works for a particular couple (in this instance, Gwyneth and Chris), and helps them handle their split well and in a mature manner, that is what matters.

Using a label that is devoid of negativity serves to soften the blow. “I guess when a couple doesn’t want to make their parting sound so severe, you can use a phrase like this,” opines actress Vidushi Mehra. “Each to his own. If being apart is the best decision for you and your family, then so be it.” She points out, however, that a separation by any other name is still a separation.


Dr Sadeghi and Dr Sami feel that the concept of divorce itself needs a rethink. “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,” they said, on Gwyneth’s website.

There are those who’ve already voiced support of the new concept. Actor Ashmit Patel feels it aptly describes the “conscious effort both parties have to make to part at the level of the body and the mind” once they’ve decided to pursue different paths. “The legal, societal and other obligations after all, can be handled by advisers,” he says.