Conscious Uncoupling. Since Gwyneth Paltrow first mentioned the concept, it’s been addressed in the media with snickers and chuckles. Little wonder divorce and dysfunctional families abound in our western culture.
The concept of ending a marriage peacefully, with compassion and respect for your former partner, is being viewed with such surprise. When we hear anything about “consciousness” – which means giving thought and serious attention to something before acting on it – we’re as uncomfortable as kids in a sex-ed class.
Why is the concept of uncoupling consciously so threatening? Perhaps because it suggests having to own the part we played in the dissolution of our marriage. Perhaps because it means we can’t play the victim – venting and stewing about the horrible person we married while craving sympathy from anyone who will listen. Maybe it’s threatening because it means we have to take our children into account and step up to co-parenting maturely with the other parent that our kids also love.
No doubt, conscious uncoupling isn’t an easy path. In our culture too often parental divorce becomes a process of unconscious un-parenting. The goal in our misguided legal system is to “win” – which comes at the expense of the other parent “losing.” Parents are set up to win the allegiance of their kids … the custody battle … a greater share of child support … more time for holiday visits … the favor of the court – and the list goes on.
Even sadder are the divorce attorneys who fan the flames of the win/lose battle. After all, we’re talking about divorce. We’re in it to win. And when we win, someone has to lose – just don’t make it my client. So the battles commence, and in most cases, it’s the children who really lose. Children lose their sense of security, their trust of adults, their confidence in the world, as well as time and attention from their parents. Disconnecting from our kids or influencing your kids from loving their other parent, are forms of unconscious un-parenting. It’s about reacting rather than acting from awareness and intension.
Unconscious un-parenting justifies using spite, resentment, anger and hatred as an excuse to sever the marital relationship with acrimony while your children are left to cope with the consequences: hurt, confusion and guilt.
So here’s the wakeup call: we have choices after divorce. Choosing to uncouple with consciousness is a gift for yourself and your children. It acknowledges them as well as your responsibility to them. It gives you a reason to co-parent effectively and successfully. It fosters forgiveness and learning constructive ways to move on. Equally important, it helps you role model behavior and attitudes that teach your children how to cope with complex challenges in life with a win/win attitude. Isn’t that what being a parent Is all about?