Recently a celebrity couple, uncoupled. Consciously. The media was aflutter with questions about what it all meant. In England, the questions were peppered with cynicism; "Conscious uncoupling sounds a bit heartless." " Surely there's not much love there if they're being so clinical."
Aye. There's the rub.
Our lives are so stuffed with soap opera dramas and celebrity magazines demonstrating intimate relationships as a battleground that we assume anything more peaceful must be lacking in love. We're conditioned to believe that love must contain fight, jealousy and drama, in order to be love. Not just through our televisions, movie screens, novels and newspapers; many of us live it in our homes.
An emotionally intelligent way to look at this constant drama is that it's a part of us calling to be healed. That part must make itself known by causing a painful trigger. Only in seeing what's inside can we begin to make conscious choices about how we'll deal with the dynamic rather than allowing ourselves to be driven by a painful emotional state that dates back to long before this 'loved one' pushed the button.
Jealousy, for example, is often seen as a marker for how much one partner 'loves' another. However, jealousy is simply the feeling of devastation when one's 'dreams' are shattered. It's a form of heartbreak. Whether excess work hours, a sexual encounter, or a favourite hobby are to blame, heartbreak is when our very young psyche rebels against 'what is'. I want it like this. I hate it like that. And most all of us are still using the original strategy of our very young psyche to deal with that pain; we throw a tantrum.
We've formed an illogical connection between love, and anger, fear and drama. Our minds believe that less demonstrative behavior means we love each other less. Yet, when partners behave without fighting and jealousy, it speaks of their own self-love and security in the relationship.
The essence and truth of love is actually acceptance, compassion, understanding, nurturing, support and joy. If you've 'fallen in love' you've had the experience of this; feeling expanded, more generous and more capable than before. Everything is possible, especially happiness. We want to give whatever we can to insure they have the best in their lives. We encourage and support their plans and their dreams. We treat them as lovable and valuable.
Conscious uncoupling, a term coined by Katherine Woodward Thomas, author of Calling in "The One", speaks of an attitude towards this loved one, which has those same loving qualities, regardless of where their plans and dreams take them on their life journey. Consistently being a partner in their personal evolution. Being in a state of love with them. Allowing the relationship to remain filled with love rather than filled with demands, duties and preconceived restrictions.
Indeed, the reason this is so very difficult is that we all believe that our expectations of our marriage partners are realistic. This was the case in my own marriage. We'd agreed I'd work at home with the kids and household, providing the emotional framework for the family and he'd work in the world, providing the financial framework for the family.
To me that meant I'd be free to explore all of the ways to offer artistic, culturally, intellectually and emotionally stimulating experiences to my children. I'd take up herbal studies, photography, pottery and nutrition, creating myself as a treasure trove of inspiration and offering this to my family.
His definition was aligned with his mothers behavior; slaving away in the home, cooking, cleaning, catering to the demands of the family without time for her own interests and expression. And accepting her husbands' choices, regardless of what she wanted, rather than creating a life together, that included everyone.
Very different expectations.
His idea of love was that I would free him up to do as he pleased and my idea of love was that he would free me up to do as I pleased. Love, in truth, is empty of expectations, unconditional. Expectations are demands. They lack trust, creativity and partnering. Expectations put us on different teams. Most divorces, which end up in a fight, do so because the attention has long ago shifted from the love that they started with, to the expectations that haven't been fulfilled.
Conscious uncoupling puts attention on love. It's the act of maintaining a state of love, value and respect for each other while choosing to set off on differ paths in your life's journey.
I applaud this courageous choice. I believe they'll succeed in honouring each other, providing the least damaging life change for their children by doing so. We need more positive role models for non-violent relationships. And I hope GOOP will continue to share the results of these steps as they're taken.