Gwyneth Paltrow discusses her split from Chris Martin and using the phrase “conscious uncoupling” to announce their divorce in a new essay for British Vogue.
Paltrow and Martin, who share children Apple, 16, and Moses, 14, together, announced their split in 2014 before divorcing in 2016. They’d gotten married in 2003.
The Goop creator tells the magazine, “My ex and I had always been friends. We laughed at the same things, shared a funny bones humour, impressions, utter silliness. We were moved by the same qualities in music: beautiful chords, innovation, harmonies. Peter Gabriel, Chopin, Sigur Rós – though I listened for pleasure and he like he was studying for an exam. We loved walking to and from Osteria Basilico through the park for pizza, especially on those British summer nights when the sun doesn’t ever seem to set.
“We loved road trips to the New Forest or to the seaside. But 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.”
Paltrow adds of the moment she knew her marriage was over, “It was my birthday, my 38th [in 2011]. My ex-husband and I were tucked away in the Tuscan countryside, on a hill in a beautiful cottage with a view of the forest. Fall was coming; the leaves were just loosening their grip on bright green. Inside, the cottage was perfectly appointed in the way you dream of for a birthday trip: cosy living room with a fireplace, kitchen table overflowing with spoils from the farm nearby – peaches, tomatoes on the vine, basil, eggs. I don’t recall when it happened, exactly. I don’t remember which day of the weekend it was or the time of day. But I knew – despite long walks and longer lie-ins, big glasses of Barolo and hands held – my marriage was over.”
The lifestyle guru, who married Brad Falchuk in 2018, shares, “Between the day that I knew and the day we finally relented to the truth, we tried everything. We did not want to fail.
“We didn’t want to let anyone down. We desperately didn’t want to hurt our children. We didn’t want to lose our family. The questions both philosophical and tactical, seemed unfathomable: who sleeps where, how does bath time work, what do we say to the kids?
“I bent myself into every imaginable shape to avoid answering them. But one day, despite all our efforts, I found that I was not at a fork in the road. I was well down a path. Almost without realizing it, we had diverged. We’d never find ourselves together in that way again.”
Paltrow says of the term “conscious uncoupling”, “I had never heard of the phrase. Frankly, the term sounded a bit full of itself, painfully progressive and hard to swallow. It was an idea introduced to us by our therapist, the man who helped us architect our new future. I was intrigued, less by the phrase, but by the sentiment. 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?”
She then says of the public reaction to the phrase, “The public’s surprise gave way quickly to ire and derision. A strange combination of mockery and anger that I had never seen. I was already pretty tattered from what had been a tough year. Frankly, the intensity of the response saw me bury my head in the sand deeper than I ever had in my very public life.”
Read the full feature in the September issue of British Vogue available via digital download and on newsstands Friday, August 7.