My best friend’s daughter, Lela (age 6), recently outlined her criteria for a marriage partner:
Do you cigarette? (smoke)
Do you litter?
Do you believe in God?
At a young age, she has already determined there must be a conscious decision to choose a mate. She inherently understands the choice will be based on shared values. Her mindfulness is mature.
No doubt in that last couple of weeks you heard that Gwyneth Paltrow and Chris Martin planned to engage in “conscious uncoupling,” a/k/a divorce. While many jeered her selective word choice, this divorce lawyer applauded. There is something to be said about intentionally approaching divorce. The words we use and how we define ourselves and our actions matter. Being mindful matters.
In using the adjective “conscious,” Gwyneth was no doubt addressing the oft utilized stigma that is attached to celebrity divorce – the stigma that celebrities do not suffer or try as hard in their marriages as the rest of us because they have a lot of money. I faced this on a lesser degree when people would ask if I got divorced because it was my job. As if somehow that made it easier or my decision less serious.
Divorce is a painfully conscious decision for most. What we see reflected in the words used in the Paltrow press release is that they are attempting to approach the divorce together. They are attempting to alleviate the harshness of divorce and the negatives associated with it.
Just like little Lela, Gwyneth had to look at questions based on her core values:
Are we happy?
Are we lifting each other up in the face of challenges?
Are we modeling a loving and supportive relationship for our children?
As you approached your divorce, or as you evaluate the state of your current marriage, it’s likely you ask similar questions. I encourage you to persist in being mindful. To be intentional about how you treat yourself, your spouse or ex-spouse, and your children. Pay attention to the words you use to describe your divorce story, your marriage, or your spouse. Are you fueling the negative or promoting the positive? I guarantee that whichever choice you are making, you are impacting your experience accordingly.
We can learn from the wisdom of an inquisitive 6 year old and ask the questions that help us take stock of our values. Just as we can admire (after the chuckle) a movie star who encourages us through her example to practice using thoughtful words to describe our experiences. Being mindful matters.