Is Conscious Uncoupling a Better Way to Break Up?
While plenty of people still embrace the pint-of-ice-cream-and-a-movie method for dealing with heartache, a growing movement called conscious uncoupling looks at how to separate in a more positive way.
Divorces and breakups are known to cause the same kind of pain and stress as the death of a loved one, moving, or losing a job. Today a growing movement of people are choosing conscious uncoupling to bring more mindfulness and peace to ending their relationships.
The term has received more notoriety recently, thanks to Gwyneth Paltrow’s announcement about her separation from husband Chris Martin. In fact, the announcement generated so much traffic that it crashed her website. But the buzz was not about the breakup itself. It was about their decision to act consciously as they end their union and continue to co-parent their kids.
“Proceeding through divorce in a mindful manner only requires willingness, and the gentle fierceness that forms when your gut and heart are aligned in vision,” wrote Ellen Kellner in a Huffington Post article.
Katherine Woodward Thomas originally coined the term. “I recognized the value of putting those two words together immediately to describe the new paradigm for breaking up in kind, cooperative, and respectful ways,” she told the Wall Street Journal.
Most people take about five years to heal from a breakup, according to Thomas. In her Conscious Uncoupling workshops, she helps people deal with unresolved feelings and reclaim their power so they can both heal and open up to new love again.
So, how do you know if you are ready to separate? A completed relationship is when the original commitment has fulfilled its purpose, according to Jac Patrissi. She says you can ask yourself, "Do I feel stronger, smarter, and more insightful in my relationship?"
“Relationships are supposed to make life easier; they aren’t always easy, but they should enrich your life,” Patrissi said. “You get to share the burdens and share the joys together.” But if you get to the point where you are repeatedly wounding one another, then it’s time to take an honest look at the relationship.
“Love reveals what needs to be healed,” she said. “And it’s not your partner’s job to heal you.”
It’s important to note that while conscious uncoupling is a beautiful concept, it’s not always possible in all relationships.
“Given that I specialize in working with women whose partners are struggling with addiction, chronic immaturity, unresolved mental health issues, and abusive attitudes, to me, conscious uncoupling can miss its intended mark entirely,” Patrissi said. “There are universally helpful aspects to it and there are trapdoors through which many people could fall.”
Watch out for abusive or bullying partners who have “caught onto the conscious uncoupling bandwagon,” she said. “They seek to hide their responsibility in [theories] like this that tell you everyone plays an equal part.”
But for most people, bringing more consciousness to all relationships can help ease both getting into relationships and getting out of them.
“Embracing the concept of ‘completed’ relationships—fully mining them for all the insights that they bring without taking on any responsibility for destructive or oppressive behavior—will make our relationships the deep fountain of our wisdom,” Patrissi said.