Gwyneth Paltrow put the term "conscious uncoupling" on the map when she and her then husband, Chris Martin, divorced. The media grabbed onto the term and even made fun of Paltrow, believing that she simply made it up.
Would it surprise you to know that the Macmillan dictionary actually includes the phrase? Its definition acknowledges the fact that many couples agree that their lives would improve if they were no longer married and that divorce is a positive step for them. It implies that couples want to remain friendly in order to maintain an amicable co-parenting relationship for the sake of their children.
It may not be entirely what you think
The term also implies that both parties are aware that the relationship is not working. Unfortunately, that often isn't the case, at least not right away. Eventually, both parties may get there, but it often begins with a nagging -- and unconscious -- feeling on the part of one half of the couple. If this is you, then you may go through the following before bringing the problem to the attention of your spouse:
- You begin making more decisions for yourself and not for the two of you.
- You find more happiness in hobbies, kids, friendships or even a lover than you do in your marriage.
- You either indirectly or directly attempt to correct what you perceived to be flaws in your spouse.
- You begin thinking negatively about your relationship.
- You begin distancing yourself from your spouse. In some ways, you literally start moving away from him or her, and in other ways, you psychologically distance yourself.
- You find someone outside your marriage to confide in regarding your doubts about the relationship and your desire for a divorce.
By this point, your spouse may suspect that the relationship is on the rocks. At some point, you need to put a voice to your concerns, especially if you have children. You may be able to part as friends if you address the situation sooner rather than later. Perhaps your spouse also feels the same way you do, but you never realized it.
The fact is that some people are just better off friends than spouses. If this is you, then conscious uncoupling may be the way to go. If that's the case, then you could probably negotiate your own divorce settlement, which allows you and your spouse to maintain control over what your post-divorce life will look like. This can be particularly beneficial for the children since you can create a parenting plan that truly reflects the needs of your family, which could make the upcoming changes easier for everyone.