Everyone has built their image on an ideal version of themselves. Gwenyth has made a career of being the public face of perfection, classist trendsetting in the guise of self-help and a spiritual guru personality that feeds the other half of her Hollywood persona. We love to hate the projected image of perfection, but every time we throw stones we are cutting down our own authentic self. By hating Gwenyth, and for that matter, ANYONE who we think is better than us we are subconsciously saying that we think of ourselves as less than ideal.
Which is why when I read her article conscious uncoupling, as part of the Goopy website we love to hate, her two staff writers Dr. Habeeb Sandeghi and Dr. Sherry Sami got some points in that work with the current discussion on marriage.
“Our biology and psychology aren’t set up to be with one person for four, five, or six decades. This is not to suggest that there aren’t couples who happily make these milestones—we all hope that we’re one of them.”
An excellent and true point. But like Gwenyth’s persona, the article only hits on the shallow end of the truth. We aren’t biologically meant to be monogomous, maybe. But where do we find the most growth and personal satisfaction? Through the commitments we make. Someone who we learn to live with is the greatest teacher when we are facing the ugly parts of ourselves. Should we stay with that person forever?
Science is evolving. Human beings are living longer lives. Back in the days of hunter gatherers? Partnership was about having someone warm to sleep next to when the cave got cold. Having someone to hunt and help you find what limited resources of food and shelter you had. Now we have therapists to help us discover “what our needs are” when it was formerly? Elk. Maybe we aren’t made to be with someone for a long time, but aren’t we focusing entirely on the emotional side of survival when it comes to marriage?
Hillary Clinton. Another power woman who stayed in a marriage long after it may have been emotionally over. But in spite of 1998, she stayed. Now I’m not saying this is what works for everyone and infidelity is definitely something that needs to be considered when deciding if the long term will work. But what I love about her is that she knows that the Clinton Empire – her work in justice and politics, philanthropy, dreams of being the president? Meant more than one tiny blowjob in the office. Her needs of survival was based on her aspirations, and so she was willing to be vulnerable for the longevity of the empire. I respect that. I hope if I ever have built something with an emotional partner I have the good sense to keep the sex out of it, even if it was with someone I was married to.
Another thing Gwenyth might have missed out on, unfortunately, being a public figure with an image to keep? Opening her relationship. Because her relationship was on such a pedestal of perfection, and if the press found out they would publicly shame her? I’m sure she never considered the idea lest being found out. She speaks openly about the shame of separation saying:
“What we don’t realize is that while a full body shield may offer a level of self-protection, it’s also a form of self-imprisonment that locks us inside a life that repeats the same mistakes over and over again.”
Welcome to celebrity, the land of self-imprisonment and expected perfection. But what this passage lacks is the idea that when we commit to someone, we aren’t trapped in who that person is but freed by the merging that constantly exists with a changing personality. What she fails to say is what makes couples feel trapped is the lack of ability to change, grow, and fail together. Maybe none of that was an option. Maybe the self-imprisonment in relationships is the idea that it has to stay exactly the same, be good all the time, or never grow in its boundaries.
Now here is where there is a lot of contradiction, even though the message is clear :
“The idea of being married to one person for life is too much pressure for anyone.”
What she doesn’t say, is that there are spiritual marriages that go beyond what is the expected norm of partnership. I have marriage contracts with friends, that they will be there when I get old because I want to have someone to talk to. I have marriage contacts with people creatively, when I make films or sing or write I get an intimate knowledge of that person and I appreciate them for the exposed self they let me get to witness. I appreciate them for the exposure they let me experience, as I make myself vulnerable. I have a marriage contract with my parents, and as they age I am going to take care of their needs as they have taken care of mine.
What Gwenyth is missing in all this? Because she has kids with her former husband, she is going to be partnered with him for the rest of her life. They are going to have to make decisions together, debate ethical questions of parenthood together, and decide how to make them feel loved when all is changing. She will be partnered with Chris Martin for the rest of her life because they made a celebrity empire, but their personal empire is the two lives whose DNA is shared between them.
We have marriage contracts all around us with people, we just aren’t judged by the way they are conducted so rigidly when they don’t define traditional marriage.
My hero, Dan Savage, has been with his homosexual partner, Terry Miller for over 20 years. He has a son who is sixteen. He has a public image and a private one. But he has 4 things going for him that Gwenyth does not:
A) Resistance – When you have the whole Christian Right shouting at your back that your marriage is doomed to send you to hell? It probably doesn’t matter who forgot to do the dishes. The resistance from the outside makes the love on the inside stronger. They are human rights activists, and like Hillary, have realized that the “It Gets Better” empire they have built? More important than all the Savage Love empire, or helping someone find a better buttplug. They have made their marriage about helping people in their community, and changed the definition of marriage by doing so.
B) Open to Interpretation – They have what they call a “manogom-ish” situation. They are manogomous but they sleep with other people because they know themselves. I’m willing to bet that they sleep with less other people now then they did when they first met and were on the scene more. Just like all of us, the lust fades and you want someone to make you laugh. As they age, their sexual and human identity becomes open to their own interpretation.
C) It was never about Biology – If marriage is truly for a man and a woman to copulate and have kids? They would have separated years ago. They have a deep respect for each other that defines things only on the terms that they want to work with.
D) Instagram – Terry is a model for Mr. Turk. Doesn’t hurt when you have this to wake up to every morning. Everyone will eventually get ugly, sag, and not look like it did twenty years ago. But I’ll bet you Terry will still be in his underwear no matter what he looks like, because they find ways to keep things fun.
So yeah, the idea of being everything to everyone is kind of…what Gwenyth Paltrow has built her career on. I’m very sorry that she is going through this separation because even if you are Gwenyth Paltrow you have feelings.
Just like any other person in this, I’m a spectator. No one knows but Gwen and Chris how this could have ended. And just like everyone else, I wanted to discover that they both were secret leather fetishists who had huge orgies on Restoration Hardware furniture.
I hope that this week, you discover the place within yourself that loves your relationships in their imperfections. I encourage you to open yourself to every relationship you have – with family, friends, loved ones, and forget what is missing in your romantic relationship. I hope that if you break up, get divorced, get back together? You feel loved because of the love you give yourself. I hope you choose to love in spite of what comes crashing down around you, even if that includes your relationship. I hope you live in authentic relationships with yourself and make peace with the world around you. I hope you are happy.