Gwenyth Paltrow and Coldplay singer Chris Martin took a lot of heat in 2014 when they announced that they were ending their decade-long marriage via “conscious uncoupling.” The gentle-sounding alternative to a contentious divorce was widely mocked for its touchy-feelyness, but, as Paltrow explained to Dax Shepard on his popular Armchair Expert podcast on Monday (March 18), there was a very good reason why the parents of two then-young children tried to keep things civil.
Paltrow explained that she had nothing to do with making up the crunchy term, which she believes was actually coined in the 1970s. “It’s such a beautiful concept. You’re staring down the barrel of a divorce, the worst outcome possible. My parents were married until my dad died,” she said. “All my best friends, all their parents were married, they all married their college or high school person, they’re still married. I just didn’t come from a world where there was a lot of divorce.”
The idea, she said, was to skip past all the acrimony and anger and get to the point where she and Martin could be friends and help each other raise their kids. They seem to have achieved that détente, as evidenced by stories and pictures of the pair spending holidays together along with their significant others. “We have always conducted our relationship priavately, and we hope that as we consciously uncouple and co-parent, we will be able to continue in the same manner,” the couple said at the time.
The actress explained that “the most common wound” she heard from children of divorce was that their parents couldn’t be in the same room without fighting, or couldn’t be friends and that it took years, sometimes decades — or the death of a family member — for them to even be able to sit at a table together. “I just thought, ‘I wonder if there’s a way to circumvent that and just go directly to the point where we’re friends‘ and we remember what we loved about each other,” she said. “We’re family, that’s it. So we can pretend we’re not and hate each other and drop a kid at the end of the driveway and not come in or let’s try to reinvent this for ourselves.”
At the time of their uncoupling, Goop boss Paltrow, 46 — who married American Horror Story co-creator Brad Falchuk in September — said she was in a lot of pain and felt like a failure for splitting from Martin, 42. “It was so hard and I was so worried about my kids. It felt like a layer of the world turning on us about saying, essentially, ‘We just want to be nice to each other and stay a family.’ It was brutal. I already felt like I had no skin on,” she said.
How well has the “uncoupling” gone? Martin went on her honeymoon with Falchuk in the Maldives over the Christmas holiday.
Listen to Paltrow on Expert below (the “uncoupling” talk begins at 15:35).