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Gwyneth Paltrow Finally Explains Why She Described Her Divorce As "Conscious Uncoupling"

"It was so hard and I was so worried about my kids.”

In 2014, Gwyneth Paltrow caused quite a stir when she announced that she and her husband of 10 years, Coldplay frontman Chris Martin, were "consciously uncoupling." At the time, she was ridiculed for not just calling it "divorce" like everyone else, and people saw it as a sign of just how overly New Age-y she had become. 

In a recent interview with Dax Shepard on his podcast Armchair Expert, she opened up about how difficult all of the backlash was to take—and why she decided to use the term in the first place.

"It had been coined in the '70s, I think," she said. "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. 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."

She went on to explain that, having done research on the subject, she didn't want her children to suffer from the negative impact that the decision has made on so many other people.

"The most common wound that I heard from children of divorce was, 'My parents couldn't be in the same room and couldn't be friends. It took three years, it took 18 years, it took—God forbid—the death of a close family member for them to sit at the same table,'" Paltrow said. "I just thought, 'I wonder if there's a way to circumvent that and go directly to the point where we're friends and we remember what we loved about each other, and constantly acknowledge that we created these incredible human beings together… We're a family, that's it. We can pretend we're not, and hate each other … or, [we can] try to reinvent this for ourselves."


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Feelin' the love today #luckymama

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As one would expect, achieving this goal wasn't easy.

"I think at the time, I was in a lot of pain," she said. "It felt like such a failure to me. It was so hard and I was so worried about my kids."


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HAPPY 40th BIRTHDAY to the best daddy in the world!!! We 💖you so much!

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And the backlash didn't help.

"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,'" she said. "It was brutal. I already felt like I had no skin on."

But they made it work. In November 2017, Paltrow posted a very casual photo of a Sunday brunch she was sharing with her ex-husband and her then-new fiancé with the hashtag #modernfamily.


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Sunday brunch #modernfamily

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And when they married in September, Martin even joined them on their honeymoon in the Maldives.

"So, my new husband and his children, my children, my ex-husband, our best family friends [all went]. It was a very modern honeymoon," she said on Live with Kelly and Ryan in January.

In an interview with the London's Evening Standard that same month, she explained why the term "conscious uncoupling" still meant so much to her.

"Family structure can be reinvented and divorce doesn't have to be devastating," she said. "It doesn't have to be the end of your relationship with somebody… I think Chris and I were meant to be together and have our kids. But our relationship is much better like this: friends and co-parents and family."

In the last five years, the idea that divorce doesn't have to get ugly and messy has really taken on. At present, there are over 3,000 posts on Instagram with the hashtag #consciousuncoupling, and the rise of the #divorceselfie indicates their intention of making divorce seem like a good thing seems to have worked.


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Happy Birthday CAJM. This is a special one. We love you so much. #42

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And for more on how divorce can actually positively impact your kids, check out The One Major Upside of Divorce That No One Ever Expects.

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Diana Bruk
Diana is a senior editor who writes about sex and relationships, modern dating trends, and health and wellness. Read more