There’s a new term floating around the airwaves. Conscious uncoupling has been in the news a lot because of the recent announcement by Gwyneth Paltrow and Chris Martin that they are choosing to end their 10 year marriage. Having successfully navigated a very mutual and amicable ending of a 22 year marriage in recent years by setting very clear intentions together with my ex-wife, I commend Paltrow and Martin on the way it appears they plan to make this journey together. Yes, even in separating, it’s a journey they will make individually and as a couple. There has been a lot of media attention, not just on the fact that they are a high profile couple, but also on the phrase they’ve coined to describe the process of ending their marriage. However, while the pairing of those two words to describe the process may be new, the concept really isn’t.
To me, conscious uncoupling is simply putting mindful intention in to practice. Perhaps simply doesn’t belong there because the truth is there is nothing simple about mindful intention, other than it’s simplicity. Add in the stress and emotion that is undeniably tied to ending a 10 year marriage, or any relationship for that matter, and setting the mindful intention to do so peacefully and with the least amount of harm for all involved is any thing but simple. But, it starts with setting the intention.
According to the Neuropsychologist Rick Hanson, PhD, any time we are faced with a potentially stressful interpersonal interaction, the simple act of setting a clear intention of acceptance, empathy, authenticity and openness serves to activate the prefrontal cortex, priming the neural networks that relate to those qualities. What does that mean? Said differently, by setting clear intentions you create a neurophysiological milieu that makes the realization of those intentions more likely.
While I’m not an expert on the science behind this, here’s my take on it. And, quite honestly, my experience of how it worked during my divorce.
When you set the intention, you gain a clarity of direction as well as a vehicle to get there. Tweet That!
Just like I rarely do a century ride without the clarity of direction of where I want to go and my bicycle, of course, setting your intention gives you the direction you want to go and the vehicle to measure, or evaluate, your actions in the present moment. Is this going to have the intended purpose of moving me closer to my goal(s)? Certainly during our divorce there were contentious issues and moments. But, without fail, at least one of us brought the discussion back to our intention…which choice is going to allow us to travel this journey in a way that does the least damage to our family and those close to us, including each other. If conscious uncoupling brings the discussion of mindfulness to the forefront, I have no problem embracing the term. These words are a powerful choice for Paltrow and Martin to set their intentions . . . a great start to keeping them on their chosen path.