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My Open Letter to Gwyneth Paltrow: My Take On Counscious Coupling

alec vanderboom

I like the movies. I like you. I will remember always how I felt when I watched you act in "Shakespeare in Love." That movie made me want to write.

I'm really sorry you are getting divorced. I make no judgments. You've go that Hollywood pressure thing going on. What average American can truly empathize with that experience? I'm blessed to be puny, insignificant, and poor. A lot of marital spats get solved when a family is too poor to put even a single night's hotel room stay on their credit card. The IKEA couch my living room is cold and bumpy. Whether it is 11 PM, or 1 AM, eventually one of us gives up and comes back to our normal bed. Things get solved.

Marriage is hard. I had no idea how poorly parented I was until I got into my marriage. I was fine while I was single. But at the same time, I wasn't fine. I didn't believe I was really worthy of love and of forgiveness. I didn't get emotional healing from my spouse. I got my healing from God. I felt God when I was silent in prayer. I felt God inside the supportive structure of my 12 step recovery group. I felt God in random posts from strangers on the internet.

Yet my husband's imperfect, human love helped me have confidence that God loved me too. My husband hung out with me 24/7. He was there having coffee with me in the morning after my stupidest, lowest, most vulnerable moments. When my husband told me "I love you" years into marriage, I started to believe him more than the mean voices inside my own head. My husband knew me. He gave me the strength to know, to love, and to accept myself.

It's totally not my business to judge whether you and Chris Martin should be getting a divorce. That's a private matter between you and God. Even my own religion (Roman Catholic) which is pretty pro-marriage, admits that there are times when it is morally appropriate for a husband and wife to separate. I can't ever pretend to know more than my main father figure, Pope Francis.

Yet as one community theater actress to one giant Hollywood starlet, please don't give up on the idea of marriage altogether. Please don't give up on God. You wrote in your "Counscious Uncoupling" post on your website Goop that the idea of "until death do us part" in marriage is a historic remnant of the Paleolithic Era. I've got to disagree. Marriage is both a process and an end goal. When it works, oh my goodness it is beautiful. A happy ending made up of ordinary moments of vulnerability and grace.

Wishing you all the best during this time of transition. I will lit a candle for you and your children in my small church in West Virginia today.

Your fan,