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Conscious Uncoupling

5 Steps to Living Happily Even After

By Katherine Woodward Thomas
15-minute read
Audio available
Conscious Uncoupling by Katherine Woodward Thomas

Conscious Uncoupling (2015) is a guide to moving gracefully beyond a dysfunctional relationship and into the next phase of life. It offers a mindful method for navigating separation in five simple steps.

  • Freshly single folks feeling all the raw emotion of a recent breakup
  • Couples teetering on the edge of a failing relationship
  • Anyone who just can’t stop thinking about the one who got away

Katherine Woodward Thomas, a licensed marriage and family therapist, has been teaching her paradigm-breaking five-step method for conscious uncoupling to clients and therapists alike for years. A best-selling author and certified coach, she’s dedicated the past decade to forging a new path for couples looking for closure.

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Conscious Uncoupling

5 Steps to Living Happily Even After

By Katherine Woodward Thomas
  • Read in 15 minutes
  • Audio & text available
  • Contains 9 key ideas
Upgrade to Premium Read or listen now
Conscious Uncoupling by Katherine Woodward Thomas
Synopsis

Conscious Uncoupling (2015) is a guide to moving gracefully beyond a dysfunctional relationship and into the next phase of life. It offers a mindful method for navigating separation in five simple steps.

Key idea 1 of 9

You need to stop playing the shame game.

Society is wedded to the idea that coupledom equals success. Coupledom means financial security, social cachet, loved-up Instagram posts, and an end to nosy relatives asking why you haven’t paired off. What’s not to love? 

Well, if coupledom equals success, separation equals failure. And, while breakups are hard, the stigma surrounding separations is often just as hard to bear. Or harder.

The key message here is: You need to stop playing the shame game.

Losing love is tough enough. With the added social shame that's often piled on separated couples, the pain can feel unbearable.

Imagine there was no social stigma associated with separation. Imagine you could leave a flawed relationship without experiencing the shame that many of us feel when we fail at “till death do us part”? 

Here’s the thing: “till death do us part,” nice as it sounds, isn’t a realistic goal for many contemporary couples. 

Sure, traditionally, marriage is forever. 

But we’ve abandoned many matrimonial traditions that have ceased to serve us. It’s no longer legal to force an Indian widow to throw herself onto her husband’s funeral pyre. And Chinese brides aren’t required to have their feet bound so they can’t run away from their husbands. 

One tradition we haven’t kicked, though, is the conventional promise between bride and groom to stay together “till death do us part.” English-speaking couples have been making that fairly extreme promise to each other since the fourteenth century. 

Let’s break that promise down. In the fourteenth century, the average life expectancy was closer to 40 than 80 years. And marriage was considered an economic proposition more than an expression of romantic love.

It’s no coincidence that fairy tales endorsing a “happily ever after” were first told around that same time. “Happily ever after” is easier to achieve when “happily” describes security rather than romance, and when “ever after” might amount to little more than a decade or two. 

Our society may view separation as a source of shame, but it shouldn’t. And neither should you. The real shame lies in clinging to an outdated ideal of coupledom that prevents you, and your partner, from living a meaningful, joy-filled life. 

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