Most of us are pretty familiar with the painful process of ending a relationship that’s been significant – the pain of loss, hurt feelings, anger, perhaps even thoughts of revenge.

So when a couple like actress Gwyneth Paltrow and Coldplay’s Chris Martin who’ve been in the public eye throughout their 10 year marriage broke the news of their separation about 12 days ago by calling it a Conscious Uncoupling, the initial reaction of many was confusion.

Online responses ranged from a puzzled ‘huh?’ all the way to derision – of Ms Paltrow’s experience in particular, and of the notion that there might be a different way to navigate a break up than the one we’re most familiar with.

In part the text on Ms Paltrow’s website said “It is with hearts full of sadness that we have decided to separate. We have been working hard for well over a year, some of it together, some of it separated, to see what might have been possible between us, and we have come to the conclusion that while we love each other very much we will remain separate. We are, however, and always will be a family, and in many ways we are closer than we have ever been.”

British and North American press was filled with articles poking fun at this ‘New Age mumbo jumbo’. One in New York magazine joked that Ms Paltrow’s description of conscious uncoupling “will make you want to get married, only so that you can divorce, only so that you can become a truly realized person.”

When relationships …
Image courtesy of Exsodus –


… break up …
Image courtesy of smarnad

The confusion’s not surprising, really, psychotherapist and transformational teacher Katherine Woodward Thomas only coined the phrase when she created the Conscious Uncoupling program in 2011, and she’s still in the process of writing her book about it.

So though over 1000 people have taken the online course, and Katherine trained and certified around 50 of us as Conscious Uncoupling Coaches in 2012, the notion that the end of a relationship could be more than a painful, sometimes shattering, experience is NOT one frequently spoken of, or commonly held.

The principles and practices Katherine invites us into in Conscious Uncoupling support us in ending our relationships – changing the form of them – with love and kindness, and in a way that honours what we’ve shared. Still, the idea that we could evolve the way we experience the break up of a relationship, and do so with integrity and honour is far from mainstream.

Each of our situations is unique, but what we’re really doing in engaging this process, is deepening our relationship with ourselves in a way that takes this experience we’ve allstruggled with, and uses it as a catalyst to create new patterns of standing in our power in our relationships – first with ourselves, then with others.

As we move through the process, without shaming or blaming either ourselves or our partner, we come to see the ways our patterns of relating have (often covertly) contributed to the relationship in less than healthy ways. We may well have been poorly treated by our partners, but that’s not where we want to focus our attention.

Though it can be painful to recognize the way(s) we’ve stepped over ourselves or our knowing, the shift from seeing ourselves as helpless victims, to seeing we are creators with power not only to navigate through this painful experience, but to use it as a springboard for creating lives with greater freedom than we’ve ever before experienced, is life changing.

… transforming bleakness …
Image courtesy of Evgeni Dinev

… into possibility …
Image courtesy of Idea go

As Katherine says this work is an invitation to “release the trauma of a breakup, reclaim your power, and reinvent your life.” I have seen all this happen – in myself and in my clients.

Though I’ve not spoken much about the Conscious Uncoupling program in this eNews, if you’re a regular reader, and certainly if you’ve ever participated in At Home with Maralyn & Friends calls, the Relationship Treasures program, or if I’ve ever partnered you as Coach, you’ll see why I’m so passionate about this work.

For those of us who can feel in our bones there’s more possible in RICH Relationships, and those who, like me, have as one of our big ‘yesses’ the freedom that comes from expanding our capacity to choose our responses to life, will see and feel the  resonance I have with the Conscious Uncoupling process.

If you, or someone you care for has experienced a break up (whether the impact of this experience has been shattering, more typically painful, or mild) and you’re wondering about whether this program might be helpful, below are some links to further information:


Nurturing juicy co-creative partnerships
…with ourselves, others & life!