Divorce at Altitude: A Podcast on Colorado Family Law

When is it Time for a Divorce and What Should People Consider if Trying to Reconcile with Lori Kret and Jeff Cole | Episode 123

September 16, 2022 Ryan Kalamaya & Amy Goscha
Divorce at Altitude: A Podcast on Colorado Family Law
When is it Time for a Divorce and What Should People Consider if Trying to Reconcile with Lori Kret and Jeff Cole | Episode 123
Show Notes Transcript

During today’s conversation, we discuss the commonly asked question of how to tell that it’s time to get a divorce. On the flip side, we look at how to know it’s time to save your marriage. Joining us to explore these questions are licensed therapists and board-certified coaches, Lori Kret and Jeff Cole.

Lori and Jeff founded the Aspen Relationship Institute, along with the podcast Functional Love. The pair supports clients through a unique couple-to-couple coaching format. Join us today to hear the number one problem couples face, what leads married couples to begin leading separate lives, which behaviors and circumstances create a block, even in the therapy process, and find out why self-awareness is a key element to healing your relationship. 

We also discuss what is necessary to overcome a significant transgression and how Lori and Jeff help couples through that process, and they share plenty of other lived and learned relationship wisdom with us today. 

Key Points From This Episode:

  • Why the couple-to-couple format is effective, especially for men. 
  • The challenge therapists face when they provide therapy to couples.
  • What Jeff and Lori model to their clients by working through challenges in their relationship.
  • The number one problem that partners face within their marriages.
  • What contributes to living parallel lives.
  • How the felt experience of being in love changes for most couples.
  • Behaviors and circumstances which are insurmountable or extremely difficult to overcome, even in therapy.
  • The pattern-oriented nature of our relational selves.
  • How Lori and Jeff navigated their protective patterns when they first met.
  • The biggest takeaway from relationship therapy.
  • Why no healing is possible without self-awareness.
  • Creating a new relationship using information from the past. 
  • Identifying what you want from your life and what you want from a partner to identify a roadmap forwards.
  • Navigating moving past a significant transgression using the example of the fictional couple Eric and Melanie.
  • How you can benefit from listening to Jeff and Lori’s Podcast, Functional Love.


What is Divorce at Altitude? 

Ryan Kalamaya and Amy Goscha provide tips and recommendations on issues related to divorce, separation, and co-parenting in Colorado. Ryan and Amy are the founding partners of an innovative and ambitious law firm, Kalamaya | Goscha, that pushes the boundaries to discover new frontiers in family law, personal injuries, and criminal defense in Colorado.

To subscribe to Divorce at Altitude, click here and select your favorite podcast player. To subscribe to Kalamaya | Goscha's YouTube channel where many of the episodes will be posted as videos, click here. If you have additional questions or would like to speak to one of our attorneys, give us a call at 970-429-5784 or email us at info@kalamaya.law.

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DISCLAIMER: THE COMMENTARY AND OPINIONS ON THIS PODCAST IS FOR ENTERTAINMENT AND INFORMATIONAL PURPOSES AND NOT FOR THE PURPOSE OF PROVIDING LEGAL ADVICE. CONTACT AN ATTORNEY IN YOUR STATE OR AREA TO OBTAIN LEGAL ADVICE ON ANY OF THESE ISSUES.

Ryan Kalamaya (3s):
Hey everyone. I'm Ryan Kalamaya

Amy Goscha (6s):
And I'm Amy. Gosha

Ryan Kalamaya (8s):
Welcome to the Divorce at Altitude. A Podcast on Colorado Family Law

Amy Goscha (12s):
Divorce is not easy. It really sucks. Trust me. I know, besides being an experienced divorce attorney, I'm also a Divorce client,

Ryan Kalamaya (24s):
Whether you are someone considering divorce or a fellow family law attorney, listen in for weekly tips and insight into topics related to Divorce co-parenting and separation in Colorado. Welcome back to another episode of divorce at altitude. This is Ryan KK This week. We're gonna talk about one of the most common questions that I get both personally from my friends and other people, as well as clients. And that is when do you know, or when does a person know when it's time to get a Divorce? And also something that I frequently deal with is when is it time to see if you can save your marriage This week, we're gonna be joined by people that specialize in that particular question, they've actually founded a relationship Institute.

Ryan Kalamaya (1m 12s):
It is Lori Kret and Jeff Cole. They are the founders of the Aspen relationship Institute and Functional Love, which is an integrative model for working with couples. They are married themselves. We'll talk about that. And they're licensed therapists and board certified coaches with decades of experience working with individuals and couples in all stages of relationships, they provide a unique couple to couple coaching format. Ensuring partners are equally supported in the coaching process in maintaining a balance of the masculine and feminine in sessions. Lori and Jeff are the resident relationship experts and calmness for the Aspen times, as well as authors, speakers, and panelists for conferences and health and wellness events.

Ryan Kalamaya (1m 59s):
Before I go on Jeff, Lori, welcome to the show.

Jeff Cole (2m 4s):
Thank you. Thank you.

Ryan Kalamaya (2m 5s):
So Jeff, I wanted to start off with you and see if you could explain really how Lori and you met and also talk about how you got into marriage counseling and therapy to begin with, and for people that haven't done it, or aren't really familiar, what exactly is marriage counseling?

Jeff Cole (2m 28s):
Yeah, we met at the Aspen counseling center that then became mind Springs And we had done mostly individual work or working with couples by ourselves. And we thought that it might be a really amazing format for us to work on a couple to couple basis. The two of us with another couple. And usually when you have just one individual therapist working with a couple, the challenge is, is that there's a triangulation and that both of the members of the couple are sort of vying for the support and approval of the single therapist.

Jeff Cole (3m 10s):
So we decided as a couple that if we were both in the room And we were working with a couple that we would have the ability to give each of the members of the couple, an ally, especially sort of with the male female thing. I think there's a lot of men who perhaps are a little more resistant to working in therapy in general, but certainly are often the ones that are dragging their feet and going into couples counseling. And so a lot of times when we talk to couples in our consultations before the sessions, men are, are often relieved that there will be a man in the room So that they will feel as though they have an ally and that they won't be ganged up by a female therapist.

Jeff Cole (3m 55s):
Usually I think today, the statistics are around 75% of psychotherapists are women. And so it, it is a little more challenging for men to get into doing couples counseling, how it differs from individual counseling is really, we're trying to look at the relational aspect of each of the people in the room, each of the clients, as a couple within individual counseling, you're really looking at the individual and what sort of issues they're dealing with on their own. But with relationship counseling, we're really looking at the relational dynamics and looking at the relational aspect of each of those people and, and really essentially how they come together and what kind of dynamic they're creating together.

Ryan Kalamaya (4m 37s):
And so Lori for you, I mean, Jeff, I think paints a picture that at least I'm familiar with and, you know, I mean, we have a Divorce story about Eric Wolf where he's in a marriage counselor's office with Melanie and there's one therapist in there. And so can you maybe talk about at least your experience before meeting Jeff and doing a joint counseling, what your experience was like in terms of kind of the issues that Jeff identified and what most people are probably familiar with when they hear the term marriage counseling?

Lori Kret (5m 13s):
Yeah, so I worked for child protective services actually before mind Springs. And then in mind Springs worked with numerous couples and really experiencing sort of the wide range of challenges that we all come across in relationship. And I can speak from the position of a therapist that it's really difficult to create a trusting and safe environment for both partners. We come in as therapists with our own histories, our own stories, our own biases, our own experiences in relationship. And so in order to really hold equal space for both partners and to challenge that sort of internal instinct to wanna align with one person over the other is it's an ongoing internal power struggle to make sure that both partners really are feeling heard, feeling validated, feeling safe, feeling aligned, and the minute that you start to support one partner, it automatically can create an experience for the other partner of feeling unheard or left out or invalidated in some way.

Lori Kret (6m 20s):
And so it it's really important for any couple's therapist or coach to continuously be exploring for themselves all of these internal aspects that can impact the relationship that you have with your clients and their experience. And the really interesting thing for us is that when we decided that couples really was the place where we wanted to focus for me, it's because I believe that relationships really are the foundation of sort of our societal fabric that if couples are doing well, then kids are in a place where they have more of a space to thrive. They show up and work as their best selves because there's support and love and connection at home.

Lori Kret (7m 1s):
And it just creates this immense ripple effect in communities. So that's really where my passion is with working with couples and as we've grown, our relationship, what we've learned is that the work that we have to do as therapists in understanding all those internal dynamics really is what we're modeling for our couples to do for themselves. It's really about understanding for each of them. What's below the surface that is potentially coming sideways or contributing to conflicts dynamics in ways that are unconscious for them.

Ryan Kalamaya (7m 34s):
Well, and you know, a lot of people come up to me and they're like, Ryan, you know, like, I, I love the concept of a Divorce Altitude podcast, but man, it's so depressing. All you do is just talk about Divorce, this and Divorce that. And they also asked me where the reasons for Divorce and the answer varies. Well, one of the reasons that we decided to have this episode was to maybe give a little bit more optimism or some things for people to think about where they can kind of walk through and identify things maybe in their own relationship, their own marriage, and also that a lot of people that do file for Divorce, it is not uncommon for them to kind of pull it out, that nose dive, And we try to reconcile And we can talk about what things people can do to result in a higher likelihood of chance, but let's go back to what issues you see, typically land couples in marriage counseling.

Ryan Kalamaya (8m 35s):
Can you talk a little bit about what issues you understand or see that are the root cause of an end of a marriage?

Jeff Cole (8m 45s):
Yeah. You know, sort of adding to what Lori was saying. I think to give a higher view of, of that. I think a lot of couples, when things aren't going well, or they're feeling hurt or they're feeling rejected or unseen or unheard or unappreciated, I think a lot of couples get in the mindset that there's something fundamentally wrong with their relationship or that there's something broken or their partner is broken or they are broken. I think, especially when there's so much sort of glitz and glamor of relationships on social media, that couples think when there are challenges that they're much more quick to jump to the idea of Divorce or, or ending the relationship.

Jeff Cole (9m 29s):
And I think what we bring as a married couple coaches and therapists is that we sort of normalize the challenges in relationships. I mean, you know, we have to really walk the talk and say that we know that relationships are hard And we are working in our own relationship every day And we believe that it's worth it. We believe that the effort and the work really does create a connection and a bond that really is sort of the, the essence of a happy fulfilled life. And so really the first thing that we let clients know is that relationships are hard And we understand that they are facing significant challenges.

Jeff Cole (10m 10s):
And we try to give them some of the optimism that perhaps you're talking about and really offer that we are modeling that optimism in our own marriage and sort of circling back around to your question. Most couples say communication. I mean, that is essentially the one thing that is the word that most people use in sessions. We do titrate down to some maybe deeper or more subconscious or not quite as obvious issues, but certainly couples say we just can't communicate anymore. Certainly there are the couples who have experienced a significant transgression or going through life transitions.

Jeff Cole (10m 51s):
There's a similar approach, but certainly that allows us to dive much more quickly into the issue. But when couples come in and say, communication is the problem, the next level down usually is something around finances. It could be around intimacy. It could be around raising kids. But I would say communication is sort of the entry way of, of what couples talk about.

Lori Kret (11m 13s):
I would say that that's what a lot of couples identify as being the problem. There are some couples also who just say, we're just living parallel lives. We're great strategic partners in getting the kids to school and paying the bills, but there's no relationship left between us, but really what we find most often when we do dive deeper below the surface and really help couples understand what their stories and fears and vulnerabilities and unmet needs really are on that emotional deeper level. What we often find is that partners aren't being seen the way that they would like to be seen anymore. And so there's this concept of partners being mirrors that we use a lot in our work with couples, which is that we see ourselves in a certain way, And we wanna be seen in that way.

Lori Kret (11m 58s):
We wanna be seen as competent and capable and attractive and desirable and lovable. And when we're in relationship with someone every day, and the message that we get from them is frustration, resentment, that we're not enough that we're falling short. Then we start to have resentment and anger and frustration and pain in that reflection. And so a lot of couples who come to us really in the brink of Divorce for many of them, there is this sense of I no longer wanna be seen in this way, And I no longer wanna see myself in this way. And so they're looking for someone else, or they're imagining a life with someone else who will see them as being this great, amazing, competent, capable, lovable partner that they've been really struggling to feel within the relationship that they're in.

Ryan Kalamaya (12m 45s):
Yeah, I think it just in observation, And I mentioned it previously on the show and, and this may or may not resonate with you is that oftentimes we receive transplants in the Aspen area, but I've seen it in Telluride and veil in other places where they are moving from a couple will move from New York or Denver, Chicago, and they have issues, communication issues or whatever the case may be in a see that move as the opportunity to maybe be seen a different way where they think that that is going to solve the problems, certainly having a child together that might solve the problem in news flash.

Ryan Kalamaya (13m 28s):
That's usually not the best way to, to solve that problem. But can you maybe talk a little bit about those particular issues and how people's expectations of externalities and how that may not result in longevity in terms of the success?

Jeff Cole (13m 47s):
Yeah. You know, I think that that is really much more evident even today with social media where it really is that much easier to swipe right. And find something new and shiny. And I think people have really lowered their expectations of what a committed, fulfilling sustainable relationship is. And really either don't know how to do the work or aren't really willing to do the work. And so those kinds of transitions where there is an opportunity to find something new and shiny and find like Lori was saying a more sparkly reflection. It's kind of like a cycle of going through the honeymoon phase over and over and over again, which I think when you're in, it feels great.

Jeff Cole (14m 33s):
And then as it starts to fade, and then there's a sense that maybe this is gonna take more work than I thought it was. And the default pattern these days, maybe while I'll just find something new and go through that honeymoon phase again. And really what that does is it just limits the depth to which these folks are experiencing relationships, their relational selves, just that idea of connection. And if they do choose to stay in their relationship, but not necessarily choose to do the work and have kids or buy new things or move, or really focused on that external stimulation in some way and not on the relationship, then there is sort of that as Lori was talking about sort of those parallel lives or that split, and there's a greater tendency for affairs and transgressions and really overall discontent because those external things really are not filling their relational buckets.

Jeff Cole (15m 31s):
So to say, and, and then they look at their relationship and it feels empty. And so either they keep going on that path of more kids or buying more things or, or trying to have new experiences or ending the relationship and going through that cycle all over again.

Ryan Kalamaya (15m 46s):
That's a interesting observation. I hadn't really articulated it in the same way. I mean, speaking from my own marriage, I mean, my, my wife And I, we were roommates before we became romantically involved. And so we never had that honeymoon phase. It was, I like to kind of tell, like I never had the period of time where it was like, oh, you like Radiohead, I love Radiohead too. Like, we're soulmates. I never had that. And it was weird and awkward at the beginning, but we're not really chasing that high. And I can certainly see some couples where they compare themselves now, where they may love, hopefully their other, you know, that Eric loves Melanie, but he's not in love with her.

Ryan Kalamaya (16m 29s):
And how does he reconcile that when he was madly in love over his honeymoon and the reality that it is it, do you think Lori, that it's realistic to expect to be in love all the time? And that that is realistic expectation for marriage.

Lori Kret (16m 48s):
You know, the felt experience of being in love changes, and that is something that couples have to accept that there are very few couples who live in that space of being passionately in love and lusting and feeling joy every time they see their partners face year on end. The reality is that when we first meet someone, there's a lot of biochemistry that happens. There's rushes of dopamine and serotonin. There's the intrigue and curiosity and mystery that drives that little bit of tension that keeps things interesting and keeps that chase desirable. And once you start to really get to know someone, the connection changes, it's no longer about those highs.

Lori Kret (17m 33s):
It's really about growing into this place where you have this person who truly sees you and knows you and accepts you with all of your faults and flaws and your morning breath and your bad hair. And you feel still loved and held and accepted for all of who you are. And it is that depth of being known and knowing someone that really is the sort of unique, special sauce that makes long term relationships so powerful for us as humans.

Jeff Cole (18m 5s):
Yeah, I would add really the more concise way in some ways is shared vulnerability at the beginning of a relationship there's less to lose. The other person doesn't really know you that well. So if they decide to not be with you, it's easy just to say, well, they didn't really know me or they didn't get a chance to see who I really am, but over time when we're sort of raw and exposed and have that vulnerability, it is really that shared experience of vulnerability that creates the depth of that connection, because then you, you know, it's, it's more emotionally risky. There's a lot more to lose, but if you know that your partner is choosing you every day, it is sort of each day is an opportunity to re-use your partner and sort of reaffirm that commitment, but also create that safe space for that shared vulnerability.

Ryan Kalamaya (18m 59s):
Okay, well, let's assume that Eric and Melanie Wolf, our in counseling with you, Jeff and Lori, what are the reasons that it's gonna turn to divorce and why does it make sense despite their shared vulnerabilities over 20 years and having children, when is it just the best choice for them to end their marriage?

Lori Kret (19m 26s):
So there's a few things, you know, Melanie and Eric have a pretty classic experience for couples that we see. There's not anything tragically wrong. There's sort of death by a thousand paper cuts where there's resentment and pain and hurts that have built over time. And there is a, like you said, a 20 year foundation there. So for us, there would be a lot of hope and optimism that if we can help them to each really drop below the line and be able to share what those felt experiences are, the loneliness that I would guess is shared between the two of them, the sense of isolation, of not being seen of not being appreciated.

Lori Kret (20m 6s):
There's a lot of workability in that if each of them is willing to do the work, to identify those things and to be willing to acknowledge that their partner is having the same experience, places where it would go south, where it probably would not be reconcilable is if either person just wasn't willing to do the work, cuz they were sort of out of energy or motivation for it. If it had gone so long that the resentments were just in their mind insurmountable. Obviously if there are other behaviors, I mean, we talk a little bit about Melanie's drinking. If that really is problematic and it's not something that she's willing to look at or explore that might be a deal breaker for Eric, other behaviors, a around that would be, you know, obviously if there was abusive behaviors or anger management issues with either one of them that they weren't willing to address, if there was significant mental health issues that a partner was unwilling to address those all would typically end in Divorce for the other partner.

Lori Kret (21m 6s):
Really the key is if either partner is unwilling to do the work, or if either partner is unwilling to validate the other person's emotional experience, then that often creates a block for us. That is hard for us to be able to move past with a couple.

Jeff Cole (21m 23s):
I would add to that emotional experience. The acknowledgement of that is that they're both in pain. If they're not able to recognize the felt experience of pain that they're each having and really acknowledge that the dynamic that they've created is contributing to that pain. It would be really difficult to move forward. The other piece that we talk a lot about with the couples is often the work that they're resisting doing, they're gonna have to do anyway, because they're gonna bring that into the next relationship. And so if they're sitting there saying it's too much work or I keep trying and nothing changes, we may say that it, it might really require sort of a deeper dive of their own self-awareness and what they're bringing to the relationship.

Jeff Cole (22m 11s):
And then even if that doesn't resolve that particular relationship, it is a great learning opportunity for the next one, because it often isn't the partner that's creating the challenges for us. It's the partner, that's triggering something that's perhaps unresolved within us. And so if that doesn't get resolved at some point, they're gonna bring that to the next relationship. And most often have a similar experience. You know, our relational selves are, are very pattern oriented, subconsciously pattern oriented because we tend to protect ourselves against pain or hurt or rejection in the same way. And so if we're feeling that with one partner, it's, it's likely, we'll, we'll feel that with the other.

Jeff Cole (22m 55s):
And so we say, you're gonna wanna do this work anyway, you might as well try at least from our perspective. And if it doesn't resolve the relationship again, at least you've created a, a deeper learning experience for the next one.

Ryan Kalamaya (23m 8s):
Yeah. There's several points in there, Jeff, that you mentioned that really resonate with me or at least come to to mind and you can kind of respond on any one of these. And that is first that statistics on failed second and third marriages are significantly higher, which would seem to validate improve that if someone is unwilling to work on themselves, that it could be repeatable and is likely repeatable. On the other hand, some people will see a Divorce as somewhat of a, of a failure and it may not be a failure, but the worst case scenario is that that person, whether it be Eric or Melanie, they go in, they do a fair amount of self exploration.

Ryan Kalamaya (23m 55s):
And Jeff at the beginning, you mentioned, I, I think Eric and guys, I can speak from personal experience. We're reluctant to really kind of do that work and engage in therapy or self exploration. I think just as part of our DNA or at least our initial inclination, but the worst is that they become a better person. And I have seen a number of clients that have gone through just a transformation from a self-esteem and other issues where their marriage didn't work out, but they are much happier people. And it's really because either they quit drinking or they examined how their relationships and they thought about relationships had changed as a result and it was painful.

Ryan Kalamaya (24m 42s):
And that is something that is at least inevitable in any sort of growth phase. And so, Lori, I'm curious if any, one of those points really speak to you as a, as a female?

Lori Kret (24m 56s):
Yeah, I mean, absolutely just as a female, as a partner, as a, as a person, Jeff And I both had relationships before we met. And a lot of the beginning of our relationship was looking at the patterns that we were bringing in. The reality is that all of us have a set of protective patterns that we developed very early on in life. It's how we responded to our serve situations in home and, and our parents when we felt emotionally vulnerable. And it's very much in alignment with those fight or flight responses that we experience to physical threat. The brain can't tell the difference between physical and emotional vulnerability or threat. And so our nervous system kicks in to protect us in very specific ways over and over again.

Lori Kret (25m 39s):
So I lean more towards the flight side of things. When I feel emotionally vulnerable, I start to emotionally shut down. I withdraw, I wanna pull away. Jeff is on the other side of things. He's more of the fight, which means he wants to engage and get resolution. And all of these things were things that we had to explore for ourselves to understand that when tension and conflict was starting to arise, what was actually happening for each of us So that we weren't making stories about why the other person was doing what they were doing. And I think that's the most powerful gift that people can learn from relationship therapy is that when we feel scared, vulnerable, unsure in our relationship, we react from these protective places, not from our authentic places.

Lori Kret (26m 25s):
And then we make stories about our partners based on their protective selves. He doesn't care, she's selfish. I can't talk to her about anything. And the reality is is that that's just what we do when we're scared. And so helping people to realize what their own protective patterns are and how to minimize the amount of time that they're in that place and how to support their partner in not really getting entrenched in their protective places. I mean, that's work that can benefit anyone throughout the duration of their lives.

Jeff Cole (26m 58s):
Yeah. And, and really it is the basis of the model that we use and we've called it Functional Love and really it's the integration of awareness and action. And so the first piece really is that self awareness. We have to understand what's going on below the line. We have to understand our protective patterns. We have to understand our triggers. We have to understand where perhaps we've been hurt before. We have to understand our stories and all the communication tools or anything that is sort of more action oriented. None of that will work until there's an understanding of what's going on sort of again, what we call below the line or underneath the surface or subconsciously.

Jeff Cole (27m 39s):
And that's why it is this integration of awareness in action. And there's a sort of a comparison in some ways, to the idea of white knuckling, for people who suffer from addiction, you know, white knuckling is really where action is the focus. I am going to avoid the bar. I am going to change my friends. I am going to use willpower and make different choices. Those are all very action oriented behaviors. And the reason in some way it's called white knuckling is because it doesn't really work without understanding what the underlying root causes for those behaviors are. And so in relationships, it's the same way. These patterns that we get into when we have fights or arguments or disagreements are really based on those below the line stories, vulnerabilities, fears, fight, or flight protective patterns.

Jeff Cole (28m 30s):
And if we don't understand those about ourselves, and certainly if we don't understand them about our partner, no action, no skills or steps or tricks, or the 10 best tools for communication, building communication, unless you, unless you really understand those subconscious below the line drivers, none of that is gonna stick. And so we say that this, this integration of awareness and action, you can't have one without the other. You have to have both in order to really create not only resolution, but at the end of the day growth and where there is that increased depth of connection.

Ryan Kalamaya (29m 6s):
Well, Jeff you're mentioning of white knuckling brings to mind reconciliation. And if I'm representing either Eric or Melanie in a Divorce, sometimes there'll be a pause. And Eric and Melanie will say, let's try this again. And the Divorce Divorce process is not working for us. We're not sure if this is really the right path forward, we're gonna take a break. We're either gonna dismiss the action, the Divorce action, or we're gonna put it, you know, on ice or what we call a bans. And one thing I will definitely tell either Eric or Melanie, depending on who my client is, is that you can try to white knuckle this.

Ryan Kalamaya (29m 46s):
And from my observation, there's a reason that someone filed for a Divorce and that you need professional help. And there needs to be some sort of structured counseling or therapy to really get things back on track if it's gonna succeed. So, because if you could just say, I'm gonna change, I'm gonna be a better person. I'm gonna stop drinking, or I'm gonna compliment you in the morning, or I'm gonna brush my teeth before I wake up, or you wake up So that you don't smell my morning breath. You know, those things may work for a period of time, but they generally do not result in the long-term success that, and, and fundamental change in a marriage.

Ryan Kalamaya (30m 28s):
So can you walk us through maybe Lori about Eric and Melanie, if, if they are coming to you and Jeff or reconciliation, what does that process look like? And when is it going to be successful?

Lori Kret (30m 42s):
So the process really looks like them coming in and us doing the work to help them understand what is below the line for each of them and what their protective patterns are in doing that. It helps each of them to have the opportunity to take accountability for the ways in which they may have been contributing to the discord, the tension, the mutual hurts, et cetera. And that really is the starting place. It's about recognizing that we're not really repairing the old relationship. We're actually helping them create a new relationship. And we take the information of all of their experiences from the past. We look at what works that they wanna continue to build on.

Lori Kret (31m 24s):
And we look at all of the things that each of them have been bringing to the table as individuals that have contributed to this sort of painful spiraling dynamic that has been really the cause for them getting to where they are. A lot of times partners want to point the finger at the other person and say, well, these are all the things that you've done that have made this marriage fail. And the reality is, is that all of us in silos are probably incredibly high functioning, but when you put two people together, those things that might seem totally healthy, inappropriate, and fine as individuals really become the source of conflict intention when you have to intermingle them in day to day life. And so it's about removing blame.

Lori Kret (32m 4s):
It's about removing the charge of who's at fault, clearing resentments by exploring mutual accountability. And then each of them really getting clear on what they would need differently from their partner in order for the relationship to feel healthy and fulfilling and lasting and us supporting them in communicating that really clearly So that their partner has the opportunity to say, yes, I authentically can and want to, and am willing to work on showing up in that way. Or I understand that that's what you need. And I, I'm not sure that that's an alignment with who I authentically am at this point in my

Ryan Kalamaya (32m 44s):
Life. And so if we look at Eric and Melanie's Wolf story, an example would be, he sits out on the couch, he goes to bed early, they just kind of have drifted away, but then there's this kind of looming resentment about who's spending money on what? So can you maybe role play or at least kind of analyze how those issues might come into communication in a reconciliation process?

Jeff Cole (33m 10s):
Yeah, I, I, I really think the first thing is really to figure out what each of them are missing. What do they need, what do they wanting? And we could even go as far as revisiting a non-negotiable list. You know, we work with a lot of premarital couples as well. And that is one of the biggest processes that we go through is for each of them to come up with a list of five or, or seven things that are just non-negotiables, it could be around personal values. It could be around finance, it could be around family and children. It could be around lifestyle politics or, or religion. So it is really, and surprisingly if you people actually have ever done that, but it could be to revisit that and to say, look, each of you list out five things that not necessarily from the other person, but from what you want in your life and what you want from a partner.

Jeff Cole (34m 4s):
And then that really is an invitation for the other person to say, you know, that's something I want as well, or that is something I could work on changing, or that is something that I simply can't move toward. And so then you have a much clearer roadmap of what the path forward looks like. If all of the non-negotiables in our, in alignment, then it is really looking at the mechanics of the relationship. What is getting in the way of them connecting or reconnecting on a deeper level. If there are some that are really out of balance, it is a negotiation process to some degree to really get to the point where there's an acceptance of what the realities of what you're going to get from this person, instead of either stories of what I should be getting that often then leads to looking outside with a marriage, because if there's a belief or story that I should be getting all these things, and there's gotta be somebody out there, who's gonna give them to me.

Jeff Cole (35m 3s):
But it's almost as though it's, we're giving our partner the chance to meet those needs before we go looking elsewhere or before we pull the plug.

Ryan Kalamaya (35m 12s):
Okay. So Jeff, if there's, you know, let's talk about a significant trans aggression. So if there's a non-negotiable list and one of those things is a monogamous relationship and Eric has an affair, how is that just, is it done? Or if there's a reconciliation, How are you working with Eric and Melanie on their roles? Certainly it's Melanie could, you know, view the world as he made the mistake. He needs to write the mistake. And she obviously could say that it's just not negotiable and we're done, but if she's willing to kind of explore, there's a part of her that is willing to explore that, how is it that you work through her role in that happening in the first place?

Ryan Kalamaya (36m 2s):
And Eric really committing something that was originally kind of set out as non-negotiable. So can you walk us through something like that, where there's a significant transgression?

Lori Kret (36m 14s):
Yeah. You know, it really starts with exploring with Melanie, if she's committed to putting in the effort and the energy to see if it can work and equally, if Eric is willing to put in the energy to repair it, there's gonna be a lot on his shoulders, in the coming probably six months to a year where he's gonna have to hold space for her feelings, for her anger, for her fears, for her vulnerabilities. And that can be a really exhausting process for both of them. And that's where we would start is really helping them understand what their motivation is rooted in because as it becomes difficult, they'll have to have something that they can each sort of anchor back into to continue in the work for his side of things.

Lori Kret (36m 58s):
For Eric, it really is about him understanding what it was that drew him to that transgression, what he was missing, what he needed, that he wasn't able to access in a different way, really helping him take accountability for his choices, owning the pain that he caused Melanie, and also really being willing to work on filling that void in a different way. So sometimes it's just about a shiny object. Most of the time transgressions like affairs are because somebody wants to feel something about themselves that they haven't been able to feel in the context of their life. And they're looking for a way to do it. So if he has been feeling stagnant in his own personal growth, if he feels lost in some way and is looking for a different experience, he needs to figure out how to create that in his life.

Lori Kret (37m 49s):
Similarly though, I mean, when we look at Eric and Melanie and sort of their history of being in different places, her spending money without, to me, it sounds like without a whole lot of respect or consultation with Eric around the finances, my story is that they've both pulled away from the relationship and in both pulling away, they're making choices that are creating negative emotional experiences for their partner. And so Melanie, even though she's sort of quote unquote, the victim of this transgression has to be willing to take accountability for how she has also negatively impacted Eric along the way. And to be able to recognize the pain that she has caused, the hurt that she has caused, how she has contributed to the disconnection.

Lori Kret (38m 32s):
And if they're willing to do that, we've actually worked with a number of couples who have had a much greater relationship post transgression because they've taken this relationship and the connection and the emotional intimacy to a much deeper level than they had before.

Ryan Kalamaya (38m 47s):
And the kind of example might be that Eric was vulnerable in certain circumstances where he wanted to become intimate and Melanie for whatever reason rejected him. And so he, it became, and she didn't realize that because the communication issues. So even though she's not necessarily to blame, she does need to acknowledge some responsibility, whether it's intentional or unintentional.

Lori Kret (39m 14s):
Absolutely. Yeah.

Jeff Cole (39m 16s):
And I, And I think in this case, we made a mentioned it before sort of really ending one version of the relationship and starting another and with big transgressions, that's really what has to happen. And there's a really a process of grieving grieving the old relationship grieving, even if it was a toxic, dysfunctional, or toward the end of it, or leading up to the transgression, even if it wasn't what either one of them wanted, there is a, a grieving period of that particular relationship. And then it is starting over. It is redoing the sort of non-negotiables again, it is recognizing what contributed to the actions and those choices.

Jeff Cole (39m 56s):
I mean, clearly a transgression is a choice and both parties being willing to maybe not on a 50 50 basis, but each person being willing to own and acknowledge what they contributed to the end of that version of the relationship.

Ryan Kalamaya (40m 12s):
Well, for listeners that may want to find more information, Jeff and Laura, they can check out the Aspen times for your column and also your website, but can you give our listeners, we're gonna have links in the show notes, and hopefully we can arrange another episode on some related topics. And for listeners that, you know, enjoyed hearing what you had to say, hopefully we can figure out a way to have you guys back, but thanks for the time, but what's the best way to, to find you Jeff and Lori, if people are struggling in their, their marriage and they, or they wanna improve their relationship, they're considering reconciliation, all the things that we discussed today, where is the best place for them to find you?

Lori Kret (40m 60s):
Yep. So our website is Aspen relationship.com. We have a contact page where you can reach out and we'll schedule a complimentary consultation call with you to make sure that our services are an appropriate fit and answer questions that you have.

Jeff Cole (41m 14s):
We also have our own podcast coming out and it's Functional Love dot com or the Functional Love podcast on iTunes. We haven't uploaded anything new to that recently, but in the next few weeks, listeners can, can definitely look for that. And what will consist of it will be taking some of the questions that we get for our column in the times, and going more in depth on those. It will also be looking at some ways to assess where you are in the relationship like we're talking about today. Just some sort of awareness self-awareness ideas of how you might be able to sort of improve your relationship by creating a deeper understanding of yourself.

Ryan Kalamaya (41m 56s):
Well, again, thank you, Jeff and Lori, I certainly learned something and look forward to checking out your podcast, but until next time, thanks for joining us on Divorce Altitude.

Jeff Cole (42m 8s):
Thanks much for having us.

Ryan Kalamaya (42m 10s):
Hey everyone. This is Ryan again. Thank you for joining us on Divorce at Altitude. If you found our tips, insight or discussion, helpful, please tell a friend about this podcast for show notes, additional resources or links mentioned on today's episode. Visit Divorce at Altitude dot com. Follow us on apple podcast, Spotify or wherever you listen in. Many of our episodes are also posted on YouTube. You can also find Amy and me or 9, 7 0 3 1 5 2 3 5. That's.