In 2014, Gwyneth Paltrow and Chris Martin announced to the world they were “consciously uncoupling” or, in other words, ending their marriage. For years, the term — along with the exes’ post-split relationship — has confounded the public. However, in an essay published in Vogue on Thursday, Paltrow explores the origin of the term. Perhaps even more intriguingly, though, she admits she still loves Martin (and explains why that’s actually a good thing, even though she has since remarried).
As Paltrow tells it, she realized on her 38th birthday that she no longer felt the same about Martin. The precise moment that shift occurred is fuzzy, but the sentiment remains clear. “I don’t remember which day of the weekend it was or the time of day. But I knew — despite long walks and longer lie-ins, big glasses of Barolo and hands held — my marriage was over,” she wrote. “What I do remember is that it felt almost involuntary, like the ring of a bell that has sounded and cannot be undone.”
It would be years before they shared their decision with the world. In that time, they adopted the idea of conscious uncoupling. “I was intrigued, less by the phrase, but by the sentiment. Was there a world where we could break up and not lose everything?” Paltrow posed. By the time they published the news of their split on Goop, the pair had come to realize that yes, they could be in each other’s lives. In fact, Paltrow explained, “It’s OK to stay in love with the parts of your ex that you were always in love with.”
Paltrow understands that this is a potentially “radical” point. However, she says it’s the foundation of conscious uncoupling, the thing that makes it work.
“Love all of those wonderful parts of them. They still exist; they can still make you feel the way you felt for that person. Rather than shutting them out, lean into the unfamiliarity of those feelings and explore them,” she said. “We lose all the nuance of life when we make it all bad or all good. Even when they are young, children understand that love takes multiple forms.”
And the fact that Paltrow is still (in some ways) in love with Martin doesn’t diminish the love she has for Brad Falchuck, the man she married in 2018. “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 explained, adding, “Conscious uncoupling lets us recognize those two different loves can coexist and nourish each other.”
Before you go, click here to see other celebrity exes who are still friends.