This is my own observation. When a husband has an affair on his wife or chooses to “leave” his family, it is treated very differently than when a wife and mother does.
When we started going through our separation, I found that most people felt that my scenario was too foreign for them to wrap their brains around. I’m not sure if we’ve been programmed so much so by movies or previous generations to believe how the stories should unfold, but the standard formula looks something like this:
Insensitive husband leaves wife, surprised wife carries a torch for the husband while taking care of the children (for a majority of the time), eventually she rediscovers her womanhood (added to the accepted timeline of healing during the 1960’s), dates a younger barista/ yoga instructor/musician/or other sensitive ponytail man boilerplate (added to the accepted timeline of healing during the 1980’s), eventually finding true love from a new man her own age or older who “gets it.” Roll credits.
What you do not get schooled in is this…
Highly-sensitive wife leaves highly-sensitive husband, surprised husband carries a grounded torch while taking care of the children, momentarily he fulfills the dreams of other married men by “being a kid in a candy store” and dating all types of women ranging in ages and life experiences. Eventually, the reality sets in that this path is not his. He goes inward and waits for the love of his life to return. Roll credits? Nope, no one would allow that.
Most “audiences” can’t handle and process the unfamiliar, yet we all live in the middle of unfamiliar. I wrote earlier about becoming less judgmental of other couples during my own learning process. It’s a difficult practice because in some ways aren’t we always comparing our lives with others? Unintentionally, we say things like,
“Didn’t your child walk as a one year old?” or “Read at this age?”
In marriage its,
“We have sex two to three times a week.” Or, “My wife goes out once a week to be with her friends, doesn’t yours?”
For the most part, these types of questions and comments aren’t intended to be an inquisition on the other parties, that person or persons are just stating what is “normal” in their household. It’s possible too they are also trying to figure it out for themselves.
For the 18 years of our marriage, I cannot count the amount of times we were told we were “the happiest couple” or “so good together” or “so lucky to have found one another.” These are wonderful compliments and, for the record, I don’t disagree. But, when news comes out publicly that “we” are now separating, it is unfathomable for most on the outside. On top of that, we’ve also reversed the standard male/female roles and I am nor is she playing our “roles” correctly.
So, what is our audience to do?
Again, these reactions are all very common and history has somehow burned these into our psyches and supported these responses through our pop-culture. But, what if the reasoning for a separation is to grow consciously? To retrieve that which has been taken from your soul, find balance again, learn to live in moments of joy rather than time their frequencies, and just be.
Back in 2015, I actually wrote about it in response to the news of two Hollywood celebrities calling an end to their marriage. Here’s what I wrote.
Much to do was recently written about the way Gwyneth Paltrow and Chris Martin announced the end of their marriage, it ended due to a “conscious uncoupling.” Let’s just say the reaction to that rational wasn’t all nice. “Conscious uncoupling” has become the latest punch line to many a late show night set-up. I admit I was there too at first with my reaction to “conscious uncoupling,” it seemed like just another Hollywood spin about an out-of- touch culture. I’ve come to rethink that.
Here is what was released to the press.
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. We are parents first and foremost, to two incredibly wonderful children and we ask for their and our space and privacy to be respected at this difficult time. 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.
Gwyneth & Chris
Regardless if it is truly Hollywood spin or not, I believe phrasing their separation as an “conscious uncoupling” is a very adult, courageous, loving and enlightened thing to say. The very art of striving to be “conscious” is an accomplishment in itself, right? Shouldn’t our goal in our lifetime be to raise our consciousness and live a more enlightened life for ourselves so that we may serve each other better?
Words like “divorce” and “separation” have been marred in our culture. These words are engrained in our brains as children to be fearful of, to avoid. Perhaps it is in our psyche of avoidance and ego that we choose to only face this fear when things get so bad in our marriage we can’t even stand it. Plagued with a history of song lyrics, movie lines and literature come the additional emotional word association tagalongs of uncertainty, doubt, and stress. This is the word culture we’ve created.
So, let’s change it! Rather than make fun of Gwyneth and Chris’ turn of a phrase, let us applaud a new vernacular that doesn’t carry with it a stigma of fear or negativity. If I’m not mistaken a “conscious uncoupling” is a good thing because it implies that two consenting adults are awakening (positive, right?). They feel that they can serve their time here on Earth better as human beings if they “uncouple.” The definition of “uncouple” means to simply disconnect, to become disconnected. To me, it’s no mistake that the term disconnect also implies an energy shift. When something is broken or not working in the field of electricity, the first rule of thumb is to always disconnect the object from its source of electricity before you even start working on it. Why? So, you won’t be shocked and worse yet killed. It is the smartest, non-reactionary thing you can do. Why should it be any different with what we teach our kids about why mommy and daddy are no longer sleeping in the same bed? To consciously uncouple you are simply raising your awareness of the relationship you are in and accessing what is consciously happening with you (not him, not her) so you can better serve your life’s purpose.
Do all people who are awakening have to become uncoupled to become conscious? I hope not, but I’m a hopeless romantic. The more I read and study Eckhart Tolle’s “A New Earth, Awakening to Your Life’s Purpose” or Michael Singer’s “The Untethered Soul, the Journey Beyond Yourself” the more assuredness in knowing that we are all in the midst of a great shift and awakening, so there should be plenty of like-minded souls on the very same path to love-- we should be in good company.
If you are reading this and you have children (specifically, highly sensitive kids) I can’t say for certain, but they may already know this lesson coming into our world. They are naturally more attuned. The sooner we can change our fear based cultural vernaculars to words without emotional baggage that inspire great change, the better they will feel and our new world will be. After all, the journey of self-discovery, becoming conscious and enlightened should be wished for with everyone you meet, that’s just how good it is.
As I reread this now, it strikes me that I wrote this at the start of my separation. I’m struck by how optimistic I even sound knowing what I was going through. But, notice I never mention what I was currently going through, perhaps that was for my own good and self-preservation. I didn’t want to write the word “divorce” or “separation” as it directly related to me, to us. It was fearful to think about those words, they hold a lot of emotional weight.
Now that I’ve actually gone through it, do I still agree with what I wrote almost 4 years ago? I would have to say I do. Would I if the ending of my personal story were different? Probably not, but I also probably would not have ever written it if I knew it wouldn’t be.