I first heard of the concept of conscious uncoupling from none other than Gwyneth Paltrow on her Goop blog. To be completely frank, I never particularly vibed with Gwyneth’s website or ideology but I have to give credit where credit is due. Though, I believe the concept was created by a therapist but made big on Gwyneth’s blog from her personal experience.
It’s an interesting concept and one that requires a ton of emotional maturity on both ends. I dived deeper into the topic and read the piece by Alexandra Greiner on conscious uncoupling and how to break up like an adult. I highly recommend it if you are going through a break-up or divorce.
I did wonder why there aren’t as many articles on consciously coupling though. It seems like a relatively new concept, even though some of us already practice it. Consciously coupling is a pretty simple concept: knowing what you want out of dating and being intentional about it.
As Alexandra instructed in her article, I want to give a disclaimer and say that I am not a therapist, nor someone who has it all together. So, read with caution and take what you will. In my nine years of being with my significant other, I have learned a ton and speak from a place of trial and error.
Wherever you are in your life: single, married, figuring your shit out – it’s never too late to know what you want out of your love life and how to level it up to meet that.
It all starts with a shift in your mindset. Most of us fall into patterns with our partners. Patterns that are built on our past traumas, heartbreak, and perceptions of love built from past partners or even your parents. As humans, we like to reference the past to understand what to expect in the future. When you think about it, it’s rational.
We need a blueprint to ensure we know what we are going into it. After all, as humans, it’s how we survived.
Here is where to start:
1. Invest in yourself
I don’t care if you are single or married, take some time to understand yourself. You are in your head all day, but do you proactively take an active role in your own life, or are you the passenger?
This is going to be some tough love stuff. Do you have some habits you need to fix, traumas to resolve, unhealthy ways to deal with rejection? You don’t need to be your most perfect and shiny self to attract and continue a thriving relationship, but you do need to do the work to get there.
Seek out a therapist or read a good personal development book. Just do the work you need, so you can feel like your happiest, successful, and balanced self. You are your longest relationship, so invest in yourself first.
2. Know your core values and stick to them
If you are single, this is for you. Don’t compromise on your values.
Write it down or keep a mental inventory. It’s important to be flexible but there are some things you shouldn’t settle for. You go into a job interview knowing what salary you want, work environment, hours, etc. Treat dating as such.
If you want someone motivated, ambitious, and outspoken, for example, seek that out. If someone isn’t showing you those qualities after some time, move on. Don’t simply hope it will suddenly appear.
3. Pay attention
When you are dating, don’t just listen to respond. We all want to come off as impressive on the first few dates and we worry so much about what we are saying and how it sounds.
Truly listen to your date and ask questions that matter. You find out a lot about people from asking probing questions. I’ve honestly always been one to jump in pretty quickly and say something like – “what is something your closest friends don’t understand about you, but you wish they could?”
Is it forward? I think so. I always use a disclaimer with my questions by allowing the person to share what they feel comfortable sharing. The point is, ask important questions and you get the important answers.
4. Is the marriage still serving you?
I have people ask me, “how do you know that your husband is your forever person?” I always answer, “he is for today.”
Statistically, most marriages end in divorce. Change your end goal from being married to having a healthy and happy marriage day-to-day.
When you are coupled off, you have the amazing experience to grow with someone and go through life challenges together. At several points, ask yourself if the person you are TODAY is still someone that is committed to what you have built with your partner.
As you change and grow, ask yourself if your goals, visions, dreams, and lives still align. If the answer is no, sit with it.
It doesn’t mean you are headed for a break-up or divorce. Maybe it will allow you to change up the relationship or be more assertive in what you want.
In doing so, you know that you are consciously choosing to stay in the relationship because YOU want to based on how it is right now, not the history you have. I think this is a really important concept. I stay with my husband because of my happiness in our current relationship, not just the years we built.
5. Relationship review
Almost every week on Sundays, my husband and I spend about 10-15 minutes doing a relationship review. We check-in, ask what went wrong, what went right, and how we can improve things or do more of the healthy things.
It’s like our mini-meeting to honor our relationship and commitment to one another. This is a concept I took away from Darren Hardy’s “The Compound Effect.” You can add whatever questions you find appropriate.
-What’s one thing you didn’t like that happened over this week?
-What did you enjoy?
-What’s coming up that you need help with?
-I welcome feedback about:
-I look forward to the following:
6. Never seek for your partner to complete you
Most important rule of all – no one will ever make you whole and no one will save you. That’s your job.
Always get in the habit of asking: If this relationship ended today, where would I be? When you are whole on your own, you seek and look at love in a different way. It doesn’t come from a broken or desperate place.
It’s not about having one foot out of the relationship; it’s about being with someone because you want them, not need them.
Lastly, you reading this: you are amazing, worthy, and deserve all of it.