When the couple famously announced their "conscious uncoupling" in 2014, Gwyneth says they had split a year prior and had already had time to work through some of the hardest aspects of their breakup.
The decision to "consciously uncouple," she explains, came about after she talked to her divorced friends who had strong, civil relationships with their exes and found many of them invested as much as three years of time into getting to that point.
"And I thought, I wonder if there's a way where we don't have to do that to our kids and we can just carry on having family dinners," says Gwyneth, who recently returned to her home in Los Angeles from a trip to South America where she and the two kids she shares with Chris went to support him on his tour with Coldplay.
She acknowledged the time between their actual split and the announcement helped, she says there's more to it than simply letting the wounds heal.
"... It's also almost about having to press the 'override' button whenever you feel angry or jealous or whatever, broken-hearted," she explains. "You have to press the button -- I'm going back to the baseline of I love this person, he's the father of my children, he's a wonderful man. I'm just going to put my s--- aside for right now."
She continued: "It really has not been easy for me at times, I'm sure it's not been easy for him. But when we said we're going to put the children first, we meant [it]. If you want to put your children first then why are you slagging your husband off in front of them? So we really tried [and] that meant I'm gonna check my s--- at the door, and I'm going to focus on all the reasons that I love you, that you're like my brother and my family forever and we'll deal with that stuff another time. It's not always easy, but it's just the way we wanted to try to do it. I have to say it wasn't the outcome we were hoping for, but it was our outcome and we've really done the best that we can."
After years of stalled proceedings, Gwyneth and Chris recently reached a divorce settlement, granting them, among other things, joint custody of their children, Apple and Moses.
The actress also acknowledges that it was more than just her family that shifted in the past few years.
"At 40, my life changed so much," she says, reflecting on that major milestone.
"I think every woman around that time gets this massive software upgrade. You're just different. You're upgraded. For me there were just a bunch of changes I had to make to really be true to myself and really live my happiness. And you have to be brave and make the choice to do that, to truly accept yourself and love yourself and really forgive yourself for your mis-steps. So it's been a long interesting road to get to the place where I feel really content and that I really know myself and like myself. I wish they could teach girls to do this when they are 16 instead of 40, but that's part of life."
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