Conscious uncoupling: the 21st century divorce modelSo now we are “consciously uncoupling,” are we? It’s the latest euphemism for a couple who decides to call it quits—only this time, they’re doing it with awareness. Hmm…

The term stemmed out of the announcement on Tuesday that Gwyneth Paltrow and Chris Martin have decided to terminate their union.

The words made me think that society is sugar-coating what is essentially one thing: a breach of contract. Because whether or not people want to acknowledge it, that’s what it is. It’s like tearing up a parchment in the heavens with lightening and thunder in the background.

I know because I was there. At 23, I was married for a number of months. It didn’t last. It wasn’t meant to. Even so, I heard the cosmic rip when we parted ways. We broke an agreement. A pact. We didn’t have kids or any property battles, so there was no glue to create the sticky stuff that mires people.

Still, it wasn’t easy. The road to reaching the final decision of divorce was rife with fear. With children in the mix, that can only be compounded. I discovered that years later when my husband and I found ourselves facing the question of ending our 11 years of marriage.

At the time, it felt like I was standing at the edge of a precipice. The plunge did not look good. Neither did going back.

Being stuck in a marriage that feels unloving doesn’t feel good. I spent a lot of time pointing my finger at him and hoping that he could change to meet my needs—even just a little.

Therapists encouraged us to separate. The kids sensed the tension in the house and grew terrified. And depressed. It was an unhappy home and none of us wanted to be in it. Yet no one wanted to make the first move to get out. And that told me something.

It told me that sometimes in this impermanent world, there’s a permanence that goes beyond our will and wishes. From our limited viewpoint, we see so very little of the wider panoramic picture. It scales so many dimensions that we can’t even count that high. To think we know what’s best for ourselves is like saying we know better than the Universal perspective. It’s a bit of a joke, isn’t it?

What I learned is that some contracts are not meant to be severed. And that it isn’t always in our hands. But I also learned something else.

You know that ubiquitous phrase by Gandhi about being the change you wish to see in the world? Well, I learned firsthand what it means to live those words.

I gave up trying to change my husband because that wasn’t working at all. Instead, I focused on changing whatever turmoil was going on inside me. And that made all the difference.

I’m not saying that divorce isn’t necessary. I’m just saying that it’s not necessarily the easiest way out either.

How often do people end a marriage only to find themselves coupling with another person with the same issues and even more problems?

The solution isn’t always to get out but rather to go within. I found more answers there than I ever imagined. Once I cleared my own deck, I viewed everything with new eyes. Believe me, the perspective widens and I witnessed a path unfolding where once I saw a precipice.

Sometimes a contract is there for a reason. It may be binding you to your own awakening.