How to Avoid Conscious Uncoupling

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By Marla Keller

Yep, “conscious uncoupling” has become quite the table-top conversation over the past few weeks. “Why?” you may ask, if you have been living under a rock lately, or aren’t   s l i g h t l y  preoccupied with People magazine (like I can be at times). 

Well, in case you missed it, a month ago Gwyneth Paltrow announced on her website Goop that she and Coldplay’s front-man, Chris Martin, had decided to separate. Here is the direct quote from the letter they released together:


“We have always conducted our relationship privately, and we hope that as we consciously uncouple and co-parent, we will be able to continue in the same manner.” 

Hmmmmmmmm…Conscious Uncoupling.

This got me thinking. Fourteen years and 3 months ago I had a painful decision to make; to consciously uncouple from the love of my life, or to journey through the muck, the mire, the desperate heartbreak, and the deepest pain I had ever experienced and hope for healing between us. My soulmate came to me with the devastating news of infidelity. Everyone told me to leave. Everyone supported the assumed decisions that I should make for myself and our daughters. 

His betrayal. My approval addiction. Our unworthiness. Ultimately, he broke our commitment to monogamy, to love and cherish, to honor. And I was expected to Consciously Uncouple (and had the reasons to do so) by every support system I had.

I could have “easily” chosen Conscious Uncoupling. But instead I chose us; I chose Conscious Coupling. (Tweet This) 

So what does it take to Consciously Couple? Here are the 5 most important things that I learned to heal through the pain, and stay conscious in ourcoupleship:

1.    Don’t blame everything on your partner.

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It would have been very easy for me to play the victim. The words, “It was, in fact, Jami who chose a path that hurt ME directly, our young daughters indirectly, and our community broadly” that kept running through my head when the pain hit me like a just-tossed grenade. “How could he do this to us?” But guess what? It takes two. 

Both partners have their shame in the game. (Tweet This)

I had already done a lot of personal work on my control issues, so it was fairly clear to me how my decisions to control LITERALLY everything about my environment affected Jami. My control was toxic. Not that I pushed him to cheat, but that my issues contributed to our Control/Abandonment cycle (bookmark this blog to check in Saturday for our follow up blog on How to Avoid Your Control/Abandonment Cycle).

And, instead of blaming, shaming and Consciously Uncoupling, I chose personal accountability in my part of our dysfunctional cycle. 

2.    You choose to forgive and move forward in your individual healing, and in your healing as a couple.

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Forgiveness is always a choice before it’s a feeling. (Tweet This)

Forgiveness is for you, not for the other person. Forgiveness is not letting go of boundaries and letting someone hurt you over and over again; it allows you to establish your truth that gives you the ability to have the best healthy boundaries you have ever had. 

Jami knew that if he betrayed me again I most definitely would choose divorce. Profound forgiveness in my heart allowed me to express this boundary and mean it. I had said it before, but didn’t have the personal worthiness to keep it. 

I found myself, and my worthiness, in the middle of the pain. And through that pain I have ended up in joy. Go figure.

3.    You don’t hold on to the belief that your partner “owes you” or that you “deserve better”.

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It’s as simple as this: let it go (forgive), and then when you are tempted to use your partner’s faults or past against them, or that you deserve better, remember that you have forgiven and release it again. And again. And again. Or, if it’s a new pain, considerlearning how to write a forgiveness letter

Jami was miserable and extravagantly repentant on his own. I didn’t need to remind him of it to keep him “in line.” He was doing that himself. For him, that meantHe committing himself to a rehab facility in Northern Arizona to put an end to his behavior once and for all.

It was a truly beautiful moment when I walked up to embrace him outside of the rehab facility and looking at this amazing, transformed, humble man. It was real. He was forever changed. And I am eternally grateful for all of his hard work then, and his continued work to this day.

4.    You realize that your partner is not your “everything” or your “savior”.

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5. You communicate from your heart instead of repeating the same story, and you choose to really live in the moment. 

When Jami and I got married I really did believe that he would fulfill all of my needs, my desires, my wants, my dreams. Rude. Awakening. 

It is impossible for anyone to do this, and it’s not healthy or realistic to expect it. It is also unhealthy inside of a relationship to be so fiercely independent that you cannot connect soul to soul for fear of losing yourself. 

There is a large spectrum. On one side, you look at your partner as your savior who will bring you all the things you have always desired. On the other, you’re super(wo)man and you are your own savior in the coupleship.

It’s your job to figure out where you fall on the spectrum. Balance brings the most long-term satisfaction. 

If you are remotely spiritual, you can discover how to be interdependent (not codependent, constantly meeting other people’s needs and not your own, and not independent to the point of disconnection) through spirituality and prayer/meditation. 

If you’re not spiritual (or define your inner-peace as such), what do you do to experience joy, empowerment (humility) and peace consistently? To 

get a jump-start, we recommend reading anything from Brene Brown, journaling about what you’ve read, then meditating. It works. Promise.

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Over 14 years ago Jami and I were given an incredible tool for our recovery called “check-in” that we have used almost daily since that time. And we teach it to all of our clients because we know it is the best tool for being heard, and for listening actively. Email me if you’d like more information on this tool. 

A simple start to communicating effectively from your heart is to say, “When this even happened, I felt ______, ______, and _______” (using 3 feelings from the Feeling Wheel). When you express yourself in this way, in humility, you can only grow and connect.

One of the most difficult things for me to learn was to stay present in the present moment. It was so easy for me to disconnect from the people around me even when I was involved in conversation with them. How, you ask? By thinking about all of the tasks I needed to accomplish that day, or that week, or that month, etc. 

I valued my ability to multitask so much that I couldn’t see how it was hurting my ability to connect with Jami (and everyone else). Understandably, there are times that multitasking is important, but never when it comes to being present and connecting with those you love.

If you are on the verge of consciously uncoupling, try the tools above and see what happens, or call us for a free strategy session. You can have a passionate conscious coupleships.

Are you ready to choose a conscious coupleship?

*If you would like more information on where the phrase “Conscious Uncoupling” began, click HERE

3 thoughts on “How to Avoid Conscious Uncoupling

  1. Awesome blog! You have such a gift of sharing!! Your journey to healing is an incredible blessing to so many! Thank you!

  2. Fantastic post Marla. Really gets straight to the heart of it and keeps me remembering what all of this hard work is for!
    xoxo

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