The flashing smiles full of iridescent pearly whites are in abundance when the glitterati make the initial announcement of their union. So great is the contrast when what was once a fairy tale marriage becomes the turbid subject of many a wagging tongue or the butt of many a late night talk show host’s spiels.
In real life, one of the most difficult times in a couple’s life is being on the brink of separation (or being already separated), but not quite knowing how to tell those around them that it is so. How do celebrities make it sound so easy (and quick and painless)? Here are the euphemisms Hollywood has used to tell the world that the embers have cooled – maybe you can use one of them the next time you and your friends encounter that awkward silence:
1. “Conscious uncoupling” First coined by Gwyneth Paltrow after ending her relationship with Coldplay frontman Chris Martin, the idea of conscious uncoupling also brings to mind images of detaching tow trucks and train cars. First they were on track and now their relationship is derailed, crashing headlong into the abyss of loneliness – or perhaps severed freely, they continue to run unimpeded towards their ultimate destiny.
This term cushions what could otherwise be a hard blow because it assumes that both parties were aware of the ‘uncoupling,’ and that both are fine with it. It also connotes that much thought went into it before a decision was reached, which, in a perfect world, would be the perfect scenario. Then again, in a perfect world, separations wouldn’t even happen.
2. “Tender undoing” Multi-awarded songbird Jewel made this phrase part of the jet-set vernacular after making public her split with Ty Murray. How do you use this in a sentence anyway? “It was the tender undoing of our relationship…”
Oddly enough, this catchphrase evokes images of preparing steak or some other meat for a grill or fryer. You can almost hear Nancy Reyes talking about the ‘tender undoing’ of a pot of pork adobo as it sumptuously broils to a nice shade of brown, served with a side of fried potatoes, caramelized onions and carrot medallions. Now that’s one dish that’s not best served cold, if you catch our drift.
3. “Amicable conclusion” There is elegance and honesty in this phrase - all the fluffy and flowery language can get unbearably cloying. Amicable conclusion says, “Okay, we’re not together anymore but that doesn’t mean our significant others can’t get along and have family gatherings with each others’ stepchildren, half-siblings, part-time lovers and legal counsel.” One such amicable conclusion is the marriage between Underworld action star Kate Beckinsale and chameleon-like thespian Michael Sheen. Even though Beckinsale is director Len Wiseman’s spouse, Sheen is still very much a part of their lives and spends a lot of time with them and their daughter, Lily Mo. Welcome to the Twenty-First Century Family.
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4. “The relationship has run its course.” Like a river that flows deep, it must run its course. And, having said that, it must also be mentioned that there are also a lot of fish in the ocean. We can go with the marine metaphors all day -- a comparison can also be made with ships – and in this case, the marriage is definitely on the rocks with this one – run aground, shiver me timbers! Or perhaps it hit an iceberg. Whatever the obstacle, that ship has sailed and will not come to port at the same harbor again. The images and metaphors are so appropriate for Pirates of the Caribbean star Johnny Depp and what ultimately happened to his fourteen-year relationship to singer/model/actress Vanessa Paradis.
5. “It’s irretrievably broken down.” American law courts have a whole ton to say about this but it all boils down to “The marriage is like Humpty Dumpty and all the superglue in the world isn’t enough to put it back together.” Another straightforward description, this statement is actually common enough to appear in legal forums and Q&A sites about divorce proceedings. Think of an old Toyota, plodding along for thirty plus years, regularly driven from Benguet to Bicol and totally neglected by a callous owner. One day, everything just decides to give up – engine, carburetor, radiator, air-conditioning, brakes, gaskets – the works.
So what do you do with that mess? You salvage whatever you can and sell it off to the junk shops. Perhaps that’s why law courts like using this particular phrase – it seems most apt for property settlement and alimony proceedings.
6. “Thoughtfully and consensually decided to finalize our … marriage in a loving and friendly manner.” This nugget attributed to Antonio Banderas and Melanie Griffith sounds so painstakingly deliberate. It’s like thoughtfully and consensually deciding to finalize a beloved Labrador retriever in a loving and friendly manner. Bring good old Bantay to the vet so he can finally go to Heaven. And while you’re at it, include Bambi’s mother and Nemo’s mom too. And Mufasa. Bring out the tissues.
7. “We happily remain committed and caring friends with great love and admiration for one another.” An oldie but goodie, this gem is attributed to Brad Pitt and Jennifer Aniston, shortly before Mr. and Mrs. Smith became Mr. and Mrs. Pitt. Aw, but they’re all BFFs now... aren’t they?
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8. “We’re moving on.” Some couples just want everything over with. No fancy words, no crying on national television, just maybe a few gallons of Cookies and Cream ice cream and a DVD of Titanic to numb the pain. Whatever the reason, they just want to go on with their lives, no mess, no fuss and no pretense. Restraining orders are optional.