THE CURIOUS CASE OF THE CONSCIOUS UNCOUPLING
When I first read about Gwyneth Paltrow and Chris Martin’s “Conscious Uncoupling,” I guess I wasn’t surprised. The Paul Newman/Joanne Woodward long-haul marriages seem the absolute exception to the Hollywood rule. Most every celebrity coupling today seems to have a shelf life of about one or two kids.
No doubt, like so many of life’s meaningful experiences, (riding the Ferris Wheel, listening to the Bee Gees, getting colonics) things eventually get old. And there has to be some serious anxiety and competition in one of these mega-marriages over topics like who makes more per picture, or who has more twitter followers. Marriages between demi-Gods are destined to be fraught with insecurity. Then you add to that the attractive people throwing themselves at your husband or wife at urinals or hot dog stands. It’s like those walking dead zombies that you can flatten with a school bus and they just keep coming.
There are the nanosecond celebrity marriages; the Katy Perry and Russell what’s-his-name with the choppers and the heroin addiction, or Pamela Anderson and Kid Rock. Remember Michael Jackson and Lisa Marie Presley? I’m not sure why these individuals thought they had to tie the knot during what, for most of the rest of us, would be considered either a bender or an “experimentation phase.” You know, like when we grew bangs, got shag haircuts or when we tried glitter eye shadow and hung out in hip hugger elephant bells? I am grateful that these Kodak moments in my life happened pre-instagram.
It’s lucky for those quickie celebs that their “Tabloid Uncouplings,” were over and done before kids could be born. These marriages are more like head fakes. They don’t really count—like when people get marriages annulled by the Catholic Church and we have to pretend that we never spent hard-earned money on the world’s ugliest bridesmaid dress and dye-able shoes.
But – conscious uncoupling? Geez Louise, I thought to myself when I read that limp wristed phrase, can’t we call a spade a spade? The kids are going to see through that euphemism as soon as Daddy stops showing up at the dinner table or his new “special friend” is planning sleepovers in Frederick’s of Hollywood type cover ups.
I’m not convinced we need to take so much care to make the word “divorce” sound all new-agey and eco-friendly; as if it were just more a minor inconvenience for the children. It’s a little more impactful than finding out the zoo is closed or that Wal-mart is out of stock on a particular Disney princess.
Who am I to judge what goes down in someone else’s marriage? I imagine if you’re married to a celebrity, you have the same complications and annoyances the rest of us might, just with a whole hell of a lot more money, houses and staff. Then again, it occurs to me that some of that may be the root of the problem.
Celebrities might not fight about who takes out the garbage, but they probably still get steamed when someone leaves the toilet seat up or drops their shoes exactly where you’ll trip on them in the dark, on the way to falling into the toilet without a seat. In the end, we are all just people. We mess up, we have annoying habits, we fall out of love. We put our pants on one leg at a time.
But Gwyneth’s goopily worded announcement (pun intended) got me thinking about all the things I’d like to just consciously uncouple from in my life. In no particular order, I’d start with “break-the chain-and- you’ll-die” emails, toxic people, mouth breathers, personal space invaders. I’d move on to weekend morning leaf blowers, and junk mail, airlines that lie about mechanical problems and people who won’t recycle. There are a lot of situations from which I’d also like to uncouple. These would include being asked to donate to anything with an “athon” at the end, telemarketers who don’t speak the language, filling out insurance forms and trying to keep track of the last time everyone in my family got their teeth cleaned. And that’s just the tip of my uncoupling iceberg!
Okay. So maybe putting divorce in the same degree of difficulty category as, say, stain removal, isn’t fair. But as I consciously ponder the idea of uncoupling from cooking dinner tonight, I’m raising a glass to Gwyneth and Chris. Maybe they will be the ones to show us all how it can be done—with smiles and air kisses, with handshakes and knowing, enlightened looks.
Who knows, maybe this new way of uncoupling will be painless—no lawyers or rancor, no bloodletting or mudslinging, everyone’s bank accounts intact and the children—blissfully unaware. May they levitate out onto some hotel balcony, in matching white yoga suits, sipping kale juice, to announce that at last they are “happily consciously uncoupled.” And may the force be with them.