Conscious uncoupling: it’s not just for Gwyneth Paltrow and Chris Martin.
Starting this month, Schenectady residents will be taking up the practice too.
From punchline to practice, there’s been a lot of back and forth about the idea. It originated in 2011, with Katherine Woodward Thomas, who coined the term. She teaches courses and seminars on the practice and has written books about it.
Shortly after Martin and Paltrow announced they were going through conscious uncoupling (after the Tweets and witty or not-so-witty articles were published in reaction) the term seemed to die out of pop culture.
But Reverend Ronald Hunt is bringing it to Schenectady on Monday.
Hunt is a Life Cycle Celebrant, which means he can conduct any ceremony from birth to death in a non-religion-specific manner. Hunt opened Blessings Wedding Chapel and Ceremony Space on Jay Street last year, where he officiates weddings, leads divorce ceremonies, and other occasions, support groups, and teaches seminars.
This will be the first time he’s taught a conscious uncoupling class and he’s predicting that he might see people actually start to “couple” through the process.
“I’m thinking we’re going to have people connect through this,” Hunt said.
According to Hunt, there are several stages to the process, which he’ll be teaching in two seminars, starting with identification.
“It’s almost like everything else: we have to identify that there’s a problem,” Hunt said.
That might mean acknowledging the grief, anger, or pain that both partners might be going through. Part of the reason why people who are separating tend to have difficult separations is that people like to assign blame to everyone but themselves, according to Hunt.
“There’s always fault on both sides,” Hunt said.
Then, the next stage is being open to one another and trying to relate to one another in a new way. It could mean talking to each other in a different way or simply looking at the situation with new eyes. The next step looks at purpose, singleness and sexuality. Each couple has to define the purpose of the relationship and their boundaries as far as sexuality. The last stage is freedom. He’ll be teaching the seminars the third and fourth Monday of every month, starting on May 21.
As Paltrow and Martin remained friends through their separation (or seem to be on social media), many use conscious uncoupling to try and stay together without “drama.” However, some critics say that it doesn’t give people the sort of clean break that they might need to fully grieve the loss of romantic relationship.
In the last few years, some couples who have children are opting to simply parent platonically, going through an uncoupling ceremony and trying to simply stay together as a family.
“It’s a very complicated process,” Hunt said. Conscious uncoupling won’t work for everyone, just like platonic parenting doesn’t work for everyone.
But he argues that there’s a benefit to going about the separation process in a very logical way, though he’s not sure if everyone is going to make it through both sessions he’ll be teaching each month: either because they’ll decide it’s just too hard or because they decide that they’d rather not try an unconventional method of separation.
And that’s okay.
According to Hunt, classes and seminars like this are just important to offer. Although divorce rates have been going down over the years, it’s still something that many have to face.
Hunt is offering the conscious uncoupling sessions free of charge. He just asks that those who are interested register, so that he can keep the class size to 20 people or less. The sessions run from 7 to 8:30 p.m. on the third and fourth Mondays of each month at 34 Jay St., Schenectady. There's also a divorce support group meeting before the conscious uncoupling class, starting at 6 p.m. To register, check MeetUp.com or email Hunt at firstname.lastname@example.org.