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Does Asking Your Ex To Walk You Down The Aisle Take 'Consciously Uncoupling' Too Far?

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In a world where Gwyneth Paltrow regularly takes her ex-husband on holiday, extols the virtues of steaming your vagina and promotes the sexual power of jade eggs, there isn’t much she can still do to shock us.

Now, however, even the actor’s most ardent defenders have admitted that she may finally have taken her vision of ‘conscious uncoupling’ too far. According to well-placed insiders, she has asked Chris to walk her down the aisle when she marries Brad (the date of the wedding is yet to be revealed).

Case in point: last November, just days after her engagement to Brad Falchuk was widely reported, Gwyneth uploaded a photo of Brad enjoying brunch with her ex Chris Martin. It prompted little more than a collective shrug. Indeed, many were more preoccupied with the $14 Israeli chocolate spread on their table than they were with Gwyneth’s ‘#modernfamily’.

‘With Gwyneth’s father having passed in 2003, she can’t think of anyone else who she’d want more than Chris to walk her down the aisle,’ said one source. ‘But some of Gwyneth’s pals feel as though she’s pushing things too far. Brad is a very agreeable guy but even he can sometimes feel awkward about the fact that Chris is always around.’

Another person unsure about the prospect of Chris giving Gwyneth away is Katherine Woodward Thomas, the LA-based relationship counsellor who invented the concept of conscious uncoupling (her book, Conscious Uncoupling: 5 Steps To Living Happily Even After, was a New York Times best-seller).

In an exclusive interview with Grazia, Katherine said, ‘I don’t advise this as a technique. If someone’s still hurt, that might be a little masochistic. Just having the person there at your wedding is generous enough. Having him or her walk you down the aisle is a little over the top.’

But, having observed the couple ever since they launched into the vernacular the term she coined, she wouldn’t rule it out. ‘I would never personally ask my former husband to walk me down the aisle, and you have to feel something like that from your heart. It has to be to organic to your connection. Gwyneth is creative and pretty limitless, so this could be the perfect step for her.

‘Chris and Gwyneth are a little exuberant, but they’re making the best of a situation that could have gone south, and are making something really beautiful and creative with it. I so admire them for doing that.’

Gwyneth and Chris have famously maintained a close relationship following their split in 2014 after 10 years of marriage. That year, Chris was revealed to have bought a house opposite Gwyneth’s LA home, where he stayed with their children Apple and Moses on the days he saw them. The couple have regularly been on holiday together since they separated, and even spent Valentine’s Day as a family in 2015. At the time, Chris, 40, was with Jennifer Lawrence, while Gwyneth, 45, had already started dating Brad.

According to some insiders, Chris has even maintained a room in Gwyneth’s LA home. Is such a strong friendship something Katherine would recommend now that Brad is in the picture? ‘If you clear the air, so that there’s really no more residue and everything is out on the table and in a way that everyone has adjusted to, then why not?'

‘My former husband lived in my house after we had split, on a different floor, and it was no problem. I had a boyfriend at the time and we would have dinner together. It wasn’t an issue. Other people coming to that situation have to take their lead from us. You have to train people that this is how our family works, this is just how we do things. In some ways, you’re still a package deal with that family. The new partner may feel a little uncomfortable with a particular way you’re interacting, and their feelings have to matter. But the fundamental thing is that this is your family and that isn’t going to change.’

While some mocked Gwyneth’s photo of Brad and Chris, Katherine says that friendship between the two men is of utmost importance in a ‘blended family’. ‘People should absolutely bring a new partner into the family as Gwyneth has, especially when there are children. They are very sensitive, particular to where their loyalties should be, because they desperately love both parents. It’s good to settle any tension that might be festering between your former partner and your new partner. Otherwise, the children begin to pick that up, and there’s almost nowhere for them to go but to not love the new person coming in. Conscious uncoupling is about creating cohesion everywhere, for everyone. Gwyneth is quite elegant with that.'

Does this mean we might see Gwyneth, Chris and Brad on holiday together this year? Not so fast, says Katherine. ‘There has to be just “we time” for the couple,’ she says. ‘In my case, I just spent Thanksgiving with my brother, my ex-husband and my daughter. It was lovely, but would I take him to Italy when I take my daughter there on holiday? Probably not.

‘Gwyneth is modelling the method beautifully, but Brad needs to feel secure too.’

Sign up for Love Out Loud Daily, Katherine’s inspiration on how to grow our capacity to create healthy, happy relationships, at katherinewoodwardthomas.com

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