What Judaism and Christianity sayeth on Gwyneth, and other angles on conscious uncoupling

March 31, 2014

Gwyneth Paltrow and her husband, singer Chris Martin at the 3rd Annual Sean Penn & Friends Help Haiti Home Gala. Paltrow and Martin are separating after 11 years of marriage. A message posted on the 41-year-old actress’ blog Tuesday, March 25, says that the couple has “come to the conclusion that while we love each other very much we will remain separate.” The couple has two children, 9-year-old daughter Apple and 7-year-old son Moses. (Photo by Colin Young-Wolff /Invision/AP, File)

Everyone wanted in on the Gwyneth Paltrow “conscious uncoupling” story, now in it’s sixth straight day. And everyone had an angle.

Most common was the feminist take, as per Slate:

“Ever since Gwyneth Paltrow became famous in her early 20s, she has made women feel bad about themselves…”

Tied for the top position was the related category, the real housewife take: “Working Moms blast Paltrow.”

And there were the inevitable cynics, illustrated by Salon:

“She turned her divorce into an opportunity to promote her newsletter.

How disgusting they would stoop to goop.

And of course there were the inevitable lists, as in Huffington Post’s: “8 Ways Gwyneth Paltrow’s Divorce Will Be Superior to Yours.”

NPR, in case you were wondering, called the conscious coupling formulation “creative.”

But this one came out of left field: the Rabbinical angle, courtesy of  the Israeli paper, Haaretz and Rabbi Eliyahu Fink, headlined, “What Judaism has to say about Gwyneth Paltrow’s ‘conscious uncoupling.’”

What does Judaism say?

 For better and sometimes for worse, Jewish marriage is forever; is that too much to ask these days?

Jewish marriage is the foil to conscious uncoupling. A Jewish marriage is a lifetime commitment. When presented with challenges, we embrace those challenges and work toward an even better marriage. Every moment of marriage intertwines the couple in a more intricate web that binds them together.

Not to be outdone, Christianity Today listed five things “g.p.” got wrong with her statement in its Her-Meneutics section. But the writer was relucantly drawn into the fray:

The Interwebs don’t need more snark about Gwyneth Paltrow, so I almost hesitate to weigh in on her “Conscious Uncoupling” announcement.

Almost.

Also not to be outdone, the legal profession had its own gloss, at Findlaw:

According to People, Martin and Paltrow were married in California. Under California laws, parenting plans are usually written agreements that stipulate where and with whom the kids will live with and at what times. So how do co-parenting plans work when parents are legally separated?

So did The Academic:

What is so interesting about this announcement is not the fact that a well-known and high-profile couple has decided to part ways; celebrities, like “normal” people, frequently marry and divorce, often with equal measures of jubilation at both stages. Rather, it is the lexicon used and their clear desire to sanitize the process of breakup.

After all was said and done, it wasn’t said and done.

USAToday included the story Sunday in its “Biggest news you might have missed” feature. Improbable.

 

Fred Barbash, the editor of Morning Mix, is a former National Editor and London Bureau Chief for the Washington Post.
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Gail Sullivan · March 31, 2014