What About “Unconscious Coupling?”

I have to say, I’m ecstatic about Gwyneth Paltrow and Chris Martin’s “conscious uncoupling”.  While the public reactions are mixed, the general buzz is wonderful.  As a culture, we NEED to talk more about this stuff.  Let’s keep it rolling please.  Let’s bring divorce out of the shadows and continue to discuss and dissect it.  It is, after all, a fact of life for millions.

…But with all the existing coverage of the topic, I didn’t sit down today to write about conscious uncoupling (which is really just a fancy way of saying GOOD Divorce™).  Quite the opposite, in fact.  Since my first encounter with the word pairing, I’ve regarded it as a bit of a tongue twister which has put the phrase “unconscious coupling” in my head.

To quote Zig Ziglar, “Many people spend more time planning the wedding than the marriage.”  This is a symptom of “unconscious coupling,” and it’s a problem.  In my opinion, it’s a problem that strongly impacts the divorce rate.

I touched on this topic when I wrote about love lessons from yoga:

We find ourselves drawn to another and rush toward the object of our affections, fully opening our hearts and dancing wildly to the beat of a new emotion.  It’s easy to get caught up in the intensity as we flow together in thoughtless bliss.  We just want to be there.  We just want to do that.  All other aspects of life and self, be damned.

In other words, we pour ourselves into new relationships without complete awareness of the larger picture.  Blinded by love, we overeat, undersleep and neglect to fully consider the impact that our new partnership will have on other relationships and areas of our lives.

As time marches on, we regain consciousness.  It happens when we suffer consequences of our actions or inactions.  It happens when we become annoyed by our partner’s less-attractive habits.  It happens when we look to the future and envision a different path than what our partner would prefer.

The waking process is uncomfortable and so, naturally, we attempt to keep the blinders on.  We do this with flowers and vacations and wedding planning.  We blame the discomfort on stress.  We sever ties with those we love when their dose of reality conflicts with our desire to dissolve in the flames of love (Did I just write that?).

I am guilty of all of the above.

Why do we do this?  Is it the fairy tales we were raised on?  Is it our biologically-programmed desire to maximize pleasure and minimize pain?  Is it because we have a natural tendency to think in terms of “if only…”?

Probably all of the above, of course.  And what do we do about it?  I’m not proposing we all harden our hearts and stop falling in love.  I suppose I’m merely suggesting that we surrender to the greater awareness when it begins to happen.  Face the problems and make the hard decisions early on, instead of hanging on.

A million-dollar ceremony, a lavish vacation and a baby won’t mend conflicting philosophies about religion, politics and childrearing.  Let’s harness our self-awareness and make more conscious decisions about the future of our romantic partnerships.  Let’s apply the brakes and inventory the landscape instead of rushing to the altar.

By remaining conscious in the earlier part of a relationship, we can make better decisions about marriage.




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    • Thanks! I hope this approach opens new doors… even if the phrasing doesn’t stick, the message should.

  1. I totally agree. In fact I think there’s something to be said for doing everything in our lives more consciously. I feel that I’ve drifted into many of my life choices (including my marriage) without fully considering the bigger picture. Now I’m taking time out to really think about what I want and hope to be able to make more conscious decisions in the future.

    This is my blog post about conscious uncoupling: http://freespiritinlondon.blogspot.co.uk/2014/03/why-so-much-cynicism-about-conscious.html?m=1

    • “Consciousness” takes time… but I think it’s worth the effort. Better awareness goes a long way in relationships- especially relationships that are changing through divorce.

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