“We did not want to fail. We didn’t want to let anyone down. We desperately didn’t want to hurt our children.”
Gwyneth Paltrow is reflecting on her “conscious uncoupling” from Chris Martin six years later.
In a personal essay for British Vogue, the actress, 47, revealed the moment she knew her 11-year marriage to Martin, 43, was “over” and explained how their unconventional split in 2014 has “permeated break-up culture.”
Paltrow began her essay by recalling — in detail — a trip to the Tuscan countryside that she and Martin took for her 38th birthday. During her “dream” birthday trip, the Oscar winner realized her marriage had reached its end.
“I don’t recall when it happened, exactly. I don’t remember which day of the weekend it was or the time of day,” she wrote. “But I knew — despite long walks and longer lie-ins, big glasses of Barolo and hands held — my marriage was over.”
“What I do remember is that it felt almost involuntary, like the ring of a bell that has sounded and cannot be undone,” Paltrow continued. “The inadvertent release of a helium balloon into the sky. I tried to quell that knowing, to push it far down. I tried to convince myself it had been a fleeting thought, that marriage is complicated and ebbed and flowed. But I knew it. It was in my bones.”
Paltrow said it “would be years” until she and Martin would actually say the words out loud, but described that particular weekend as “a dam had cracked just enough to hear the unrelenting trickle of truth. And it grew louder until it was all I could hear.”
The “Iron Man” actress went on to explain why their marriage didn’t work and how they “tried everything” before making their split announcement as they “didn’t want to let anyone down,” especially their children: Apple, 16, and Moses, 14.
“My ex and I had always been friends,” Paltrow said, before listing things she and the Coldplay singer both enjoyed and had in common. “Most of all, we loved our children. We were close, though we had never fully settled into being a couple. We just didn’t quite fit together. There was always a bit of unease and unrest. But man, did we love our children.”
“Between the day that I knew and the day we finally relented to the truth, we tried everything,” she continued. “We did not want to fail. We didn’t want to let anyone down. We desperately didn’t want to hurt our children.”
“But one day, despite all our efforts, I found that I was not at a fork in the road,” she added. “I was well down a path. Almost without realizing it, we had diverged. We’d never find ourselves together in that way again.”
The Goop founder then recalled the moment they decided to announce their breakup, infamously introducing the term “conscious uncoupling,” which Paltrow has previously revealed was brought up by their therapist. According to the actress, before they “introduced the phrase to the world,” they tested it out on themselves.
“I was intrigued, less by the phrase, but by the sentiment,” she said of “conscious uncoupling.” “Was there a world where we could break up and not lose everything? Could we be a family, even though we were not a couple? We decided to try.”
“When we made a commitment to approach our separation this way, and about a year before we introduced the phrase to the world, we put it to the test,” she added. “It was hit and miss. We had great days and terrible days. Days when we couldn’t stand each other, but forced ourselves to remember what we were aiming for.”
“Conscious uncoupling/separation/divorce, whatever you want to call it, has now permeated the break-up culture. Instead of people approaching me with, ‘Why did you say that?,’ they now approach me with, ‘How do you do that?'” she added.
After noting the importance of forgiveness and learning to let go, Paltrow concluded with her “final and potentially most radical point:” why “conscious uncoupling” works.
“It’s OK to stay in love with the parts of your ex that you were always in love with. In fact, that’s what makes conscious uncoupling work,” she wrote.
“We lose all the nuance of life when we make it all bad or all good. Even when they are young, children understand that love takes multiple forms,” she concluded. “I know my ex-husband was meant to be the father of my children, and I know my current husband is meant to be the person I grow very old with. Conscious uncoupling lets us recognize those two different loves can coexist and nourish each other.”
Paltrow has previously opened up about her “conscious uncoupling” with Martin and how the public has responded. Although she now has written a lengthy essay on the subject, last year the “Shakespeare in Love” actress said she might write a book about it someday.
“Both Chris and I have made a commitment to continue to love the things about each other that we’ve always loved and to really continue to develop our friendship and to find ways to continue to communicate,” Paltrow told NBC’s Savannah Guthrie on “TODAY” in March 2019. “There’s been a long process to it, at some point maybe I’ll write a book because you really have to focus on forgiveness — and the spite that comes up you have to let it go.”
“It’s actually been really nice to see the culture embrace the idea,” she added. “You know people stop me all the time and say, ‘You know I know you took a lot of crap for that in the beginning but thank you so much for doing that because I never would have thought to pursue that line of thinking.’ So for me, that’s really impactful.”
Shortly after her split from Martin in 2014, Paltrow began dating “Glee” producer, Brad Falchuk. The couple became engaged in January 2018 and married the following September. As for Martin, he’s been in a relationship with Dakota Johnson since 2017. The two couples have famously vacationed together as well as attend joint family gatherings.
Got a story or a tip for us? Email TooFab editors at [email protected].