Cut Gwyneth some slack: ‘Divorcing’ or ‘uncoupling,’ it still hurts

In January, Gwyneth Paltrow and her husband Chris Martin attended a benefit for Haiti in Beverly Hills.
In January, Gwyneth Paltrow and her husband Chris Martin attended a benefit for Haiti in Beverly Hills.
(Colin Young-Wolff / Invision / AP)

So Gwyneth Paltrow and her hubby have chosen to do a little “conscious uncoupling,” and now everyone is bangin’ on her like she’s Miley Cyrus. What, don’t you guys remember that it didn’t work out for her in “Shakespeare in Love” either?

On Tuesday, the actress and her rocker husband Chris Martin announced they were calling it quits, marriage-wise, after 10 years and two kids. Being celebrities, they couldn’t just tell the bartender, or a couple of friends, or put it on Facebook or Instagram like the rest of us. No, they posted a missive on Paltrow’s website, Goop.

“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.”

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OK, so it’s not Hemingway; I mean “hearts full of sadness”? Get me rewrite!

But the real sin came from the post’s catchy title: “Conscious Uncoupling.” By Wednesday, that little phrase was threatening Malaysia Airlines Flight 370’s stranglehold on our attention.

“Paltrow-Martin ‘conscious uncoupling’ has heads spinning” trumpeted USA Today. “What Gwyneth Paltrow Really Means by ‘Conscious Uncoupling’ ” wrote Charlotte Alter in Time. “What celebrity divorces like Gwyneth Paltrow’s tell us about ‘having it all’ ” wrote Alyssa Rosenberg in the Washington Post. “How Gwyneth Paltrow is ruining America” by Ted Cruz in — OK, just kidding, I made that one up.

(Though there was also this, uh, practical though jingoistic take from Tom Cowell in Britain’s Telegraph: “Gwyneth Paltrow and Chris Martin split: The pitfalls of marrying an American woman.” I say, old chap, bit of a low blow, what!)

Anyway, most of America is now conscious of “conscious uncoupling.” (Hint for those playing at home: It has nothing to do with freight trains.)

Now, if you have an hour, trundle on over to YouTube, where “transformational teacher” Katherine Woodward Thomas will bore you to tears with an explanation. (Sorry, no cute cats, or a dog playing a piano.) It might even save you having to pony up the 400 bucks for the five-week course on “uncoupling.”

Or you can take my word for it: Paltrow and Martin are just … getting divorced. They’re untying the knot. They’re pulling the plug. Going their separate ways. “Irreconcilable differences,” you know.

Speaking of which, wasn’t it more interesting back in the day when you actually had to give a reason for wanting a divorce? Like: “He’s a lying, cheating bastard, your honor”; or: “I came home and found her fondling my margarita machine … and the pool boy, judge.”

But I digress.

The bottom line: Yes, Paltrow is being pretentious. But really, can you blame her?

I “uncoupled” once. And I’m far from alone in this world. It isn’t easy. You have to tell your friends, your parents, your co-workers and yes (if you have them) sadly and most painfully of all, your kids. You have to say publicly, in essence: I failed. We failed. I was wrong. I loved this person, and now I don’t. I built a life with them, and now I’ve got to tear it apart.

It isn’t the movies. It’s not glamorous. It’s a real as life gets. It hurts. And it hurts whether you’re a celebrity, or Mr. and Mrs. Joe Six Pack.

So if it hurts a little less to call it “conscious uncoupling” — well, you know what I say? Why not.


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