After more than a decade of marriage, actress Gwyneth Paltrow and husband Chris Martin have announced that they are separating. While celebrity break ups are not necessarily news, they do affect social consciousness, especially in an era where over 50% of marriages end in divorce. A sad statistic, but also a reality and one that we all hope will change as years pass and more people realize the value of choice.
Carla Lundblade, a Beverly Hills licensed clinical therapist likes to call it ‘conscientious divorce’ when referring to the term ‘conscious uncoupling’. Carla specializes in all aspect of family and private counseling and works regularly with Hollywood A Listers and celebrities. www.carlalundblade.com.
“Gone are the days where we think marriage and all that goes with it is the be-all-end-all to our adult lives,” said Carla. “You know it. I know it, and we see examples of it every day in the media. Men and Women's roles have changed drastically over recent years, as have career options, access to income and freedom from consequences for both sexes over our sex lives.”
Yet, when we look closely, the ideas and rules surrounding the ancient institution of marriage have hardly budged an inch with times, a concept that Carla thinks is unfortunate.
Another belief that unfortunately has not budged either is the idea that a marital breakup has to be full of hardship and combat or worse, as was depicted in the 1989 movie ‘War of the Roses’ wherein Michael Douglas and Kathleen Turner, a seemingly perfectly married couple, separate and end their marriage in a violently hostile and bitter divorce.
It seems from media reports that Gwyneth and Chris are a couple that are redefining their relationship by their own unique rules and needs to make each other (and their children) happy.
“The clear black and white contrast of marriage dissolution is no longer the status quo,” continued Carla. “Where uniquely creating a marriage (and dissolving one) falls on a continuum somewhere between total togetherness and total apartness.”
So, let's consider the alternative… a peaceful separation which is what Gwyneth and Chris appear to be doing. How about settling financial issues out of court? Putting the children’s feelings of well-being and emotional safety over our own or, better yet, making the children of primary importance? When you put ego and money aside, you have yourself a totally different ball game.
“Gwyneth and Chris are breaking the old accepted mold and moving all of us forward where we need to go. Something that Hollywood folks are either really good at, or really bad,” laughed Carla. “When you compare their breakup to the likes of Alec Balwin and Kim Bassinger’s very public split, or that of Burt Reynolds and Lonnie Anderson, well, need I say more?”
Carla offers ideas of what a ‘Conscientious Divorce’ provides in the way of benefits to all parties involved:
1. Privacy and dignity: working together means that your privacy and dignity are protected. The negative ripple effect that comes from publicly berating your previous soul mate mows down everyone in its wake including the children, in-laws, long-time friends. EVERYONE is spared the collateral damage that a bitter divorce can potentially create.
2. Saves mountains of money: wouldn't you rather put YOUR children through college and buy them a new car or take an exotic vacation? That's what your divorce attorney is doing with the money they make from you in a bitter divorce. Why become a financial supporter to someone that is not a part of your family? Fair guidelines are already in place in all states and can be easily followed through calmly mediating and settling your divorce.
3. Happy kids: if you don't take into consideration keeping your children happy and emotionally safe during the breakup, then you may be spending that child support or savings you have earmarked for college for them on rehab or therapists. Your kids are just going to trace it back to feeling insecure and unworthy with low self-esteem and being the fault of their parents and they would be RIGHT. Why create a problem that doesn't have to exist? Plenty of hardship in your children’s lives cannot be avoided unfortunately, but this one surely can.
4. Bright future full of possibilities: nobody should want to carry their emotional baggage around for long. It's a waste of your own life and happiness. Let go and feel the brightness of your own incredible future. That's easier to do when you don't have continual screaming phone calls from your ex and painful court dates looming in the many, many years to come. Would you want to date somebody going through that? NO. Now is the time that you can choose for yourself to define how you would like to live. This is a freedom and a wonderful time of exploration used wisely while not entrenched in a divorce battle.
“I say bravo Gwyneth and Chris,” said Carla. “While any break up always saddens me, they appear to have taken full control of their situation and are being open and honest about their future and that of their family.”