Gwyneth Paltrow and Chris Martin consciously uncoupled 5 years ago today: How it played out

Gwyneth Paltrow and Chris Martin at the Sean Penn and Friends Help Haiti Home benefit in January 2014 — two months before they announced their split. (Photo: Getty Images)
Gwyneth Paltrow and Chris Martin at the Sean Penn and Friends Help Haiti Home benefit in January 2014 — two months before they announced their split. (Photo: Getty Images)

Today marks five years since Gwyneth Paltrow announced her split from Chris Martin and the world was introduced to the concept of “conscious uncoupling.”

While Paltrow didn’t invent the term, it was used as the title for a blog post on Goop in which she announced the end of her 10-year marriage to the Coldplay frontman. It 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. 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.” (The URL now links to a very long and detailed explainer on what conscious uncoupling is because, as Paltrow recently said, she is a businesswoman first.)

Paltrow, who has long been called pretentious and out of touch, was mocked by news outlets (“Gwyneth Paltrow and Chris Martin ‘consciously uncouple’ — as in, split”), comedians and regular Joes — as if it was one of Goop’s ridiculous annual gift guides. The term #consciouslyuncouple trended with people joking they were ending relationships with everything from bad sports teams to fattening foods. A month later, Craig Ferguson used the expression while announcing his departure from late-night TV. (Sarah Silverman used it several years later to announce her split from Michael Sheen.)

But “conscious uncoupling” had people talking — there were explainers about the method in which to mindfully end a marriage on every website. The Goop website crashed as people clicked to find out why it was that they were splitting. (Paltrow later took credit for being the first to “break the internet.”) The truth was, Paltrow later said, the editorial director of Goop chose the wording, not her. Author Katherine Woodward Thomas has been credited with coining the term.

Paltrow’s spoken about the term approximately 5,756 times since and in a very recent interview, with Dax Shepard for his Armchair Expert podcast, she said the mocking following her split over it was “brutal.” She said, “It’s such a beautiful concept. You’re staring down the barrel of a divorce, the worst outcome possible. My parents were married until my dad died… I just didn’t come from a world where there was a lot of divorce.” So to consciously uncouple was to approach it as, “We’re a family, that’s it. We can pretend we’re not, and hate each other … or, [we can] try to reinvent this for ourselves.”

The mocking felt like a “layer of the world turning on us about saying, essentially, we just want to be nice to each other and stay a family,” she said. “It was brutal. I already felt like I had no skin on.”

While Paltrow and Martin, who co-parent kids Apple, 14, and Moses, 12, both said the split wasn’t easy. She said in that same Armchair Expert interview, “I was in a lot of pain. It was so difficult,” while he talked about suffering extreme depression, “It was pretty touch-and-go.”

Despite the challenges and emotions, Paltrow and Martin, who started divorce proceedings a year later, worked hard to uncouple. (In fact, she told Marie Claire in 2015, they “worked really f***ing hard”). They lived in houses across the street from each other. They went on family vacations. They celebrated their kids birthdays together. He got a stocking at her house for Christmas. He popped up, and continues to, on her Instagram — funny considering they never walked a red carpet together while they were married. In some of her interviews, it’s noted that he stops in to do things with the kids, including music lessons.

“We’re very, very close, and it’s so nice,” she said in that same Marie Claire interview. “I feel like it’s, in a way, the relationship we were meant to have.” It’s morphed into more of a sibling thing with Paltrow noting, time and again, that Martin is like her “brother.” (We agree — it’s weird.)

Paltrow and Martin have both long moved on from one another romantically. She married TV producer Brad Falchuk in September. (Unlike Demi Moore going to ex Bruce Willis’s two subsequent weddings, Martin did not attend Paltrow and Falchuk’s.) And if you think her second marriage changed the consciousness of her uncoupling, you’re wrong. She recently hung out with her “first mother in law” (Martin’s mom) and second (Falchuk’s mother) and shared a photo online to mark International Women’s Day.

Martin, who has said his divorce depression lasted for a year, dated around a bit — Jennifer Lawrence, Annabelle Wallis — and has been in a serious relationship with Dakota Johnson since 2018. While there were rumors she was pregnant — a conclusion people jumped to when they saw blue and pink balloons at her birthday party at his house — that turned out to be false.

As in — life goes on for both of Paltrow and Martin. Peacefully. Seems that “conscious uncoupling” isn’t so bad after all.

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