Gwyneth Paltrow Recalls ‘Mockery and Anger’ After Labeling Her Divorce ‘Conscious Uncoupling’

Oscar winner Gwyneth Paltrow continues to co-parent her two children – Apple, 16, and Moses, 14 – with her ex-husband, Coldplay frontman Chris Martin. Now married to Brad Falchuk, Paltrow and Martin still spend holidays and vacations together to provide stability for their children.

Rather than using words like “divorce,” “separation,” or “breakup,” Martin and the Goop founder unveiled a new term that was met with public backlash.

Gwyneth Paltrow attends the 77th Annual Golden Globe Awards
Gwyneth Paltrow | Axelle/Bauer-Griffin/FilmMagic

‘Iron Man’ star gets real in Vogue

In a candid essay for Vogue UK, Paltrow provides deeply personal details on the dissolution of her marriage to Martin. The two tied the knot in 2003 and divorced in 2014. Apparently the Shakespeare in Love star had been feeling their distance growing long before they went their separate ways until she finally had to face the inevitable.

“I don’t recall when it happened, exactly. … But I knew – despite long walks and longer lie-ins, big glasses of Barolo and hands held – my marriage was over,” Paltrow wrote. “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.”

Despite her best efforts to just plow through, Paltrow knew her marriage was no longer viable.

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“At first, I was moderately successful at turning the volume down on that knowledge. It would be years until we said the words aloud,” the Goop owner revealed. “But, that weekend, a dam had cracked just enough to hear the unrelenting trickle of truth. And it grew louder until it was all I could hear.” 

Gwyneth Paltrow and Chris Martin start the process

Despite their deep affection for each other, Paltrow revealed that she and Martin were a bit off from the start.

“My ex and I had always been friends. We laughed at the same things, shared a funny bones humor … were moved by the same qualities in music … loved road trips to the New Forest or to the seaside,” she wrote. “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.”

When the two finally decided to split, they latched onto the idea of “conscious uncoupling,” which they learned about in counseling.

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“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,” Paltrow described of the term. “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.”

‘Conscious uncoupling’ takes a turn

The Avengers star recalled making the announcement with Martin only to be ambushed by the public response.

“The day came. With a plan in place, we published a newsletter on Goop, simply called ‘conscious uncoupling.’ It was our announcement to the public that we were ending our marriage,” Paltrow shared in the article. “I never could have anticipated what came next. The public’s surprise gave way quickly to ire and derision. A strange combination of mockery and anger that I had never seen. … Frankly, the intensity of the response saw me bury my head in the sand deeper than I ever had in my very public life.”

Yet Paltrow began to see a shift in public perception, where instead of criticism she was eventually met with curiosity.

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WFH with some moral support

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“Conscious uncoupling/separation/divorce, whatever you want to call it, has now permeated the break-up culture,” she shared. “Instead of people approaching me with, ‘Why did you say that?,’ they now approach me with, ‘How do you do that?’” 

After all the tumult, Paltrow is clearly in a good place with her family in tact. “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,” she wrote. “Conscious uncoupling lets us recognize those two different loves can coexist and nourish each other.”