Divorce at Altitude: A Podcast on Colorado Family Law

The Essential Recipe for Finally Leaving your High Conflict Marriage with Karen McMahon | Episode 143

March 03, 2023 Ryan Kalamaya & Amy Goscha
The Essential Recipe for Finally Leaving your High Conflict Marriage with Karen McMahon | Episode 143
Divorce at Altitude: A Podcast on Colorado Family Law
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Divorce at Altitude: A Podcast on Colorado Family Law
The Essential Recipe for Finally Leaving your High Conflict Marriage with Karen McMahon | Episode 143
Mar 03, 2023
Ryan Kalamaya & Amy Goscha

High-conflict marriage will inevitably lead to high-conflict divorce, and today on Divorce At Altitude, divorce coach Karen McMahon is here to tell us all about her coaching plan for people looking to exit their high-conflict marriages. Tuning in, you’ll hear exactly what a high-conflict marriage is, why people stay in these unhappy marriages, how to rewire your mind, come out of your isolation, reimagine your life, and ultimately, end this unhealthy relationship, why divorce is a transformational process, and so much more! 

We also discuss why you need to stay on top of the laws and your finances when getting divorced, the importance of selecting an attorney that is right for you, and why you need to be realistic about how your spouse will handle the divorce. Karen even shares her high-conflict marriage exit plan with us before explaining why telling children about divorce separately is sometimes better. Finally, she tells us about her own high-conflict divorce and inspires some hope in anyone who may be experiencing something similar. 

Key Points From This Episode:

  • What the concept of a high-conflict marriage means to Karen. 
  • The most common reasons people stay in these unhealthy marriages.
  • How to rewire your mind when trying to get out of a high-conflict marriage. 
  • The importance of building a support network after the isolation of this marriage.
  • What reimagining yourself means in the context of a high-conflict marriage. 
  • Karen explores the transformational nature of divorce.
  • The importance of getting educated when getting divorced and knowing the law. 
  • Why you can’t have a bully for an attorney when ending a high-conflict marriage.
  • What goes into the exit plan for a high-conflict marriage. 
  • Why Karen thinks telling kids about divorce separately is oftentimes better. 
  • A story from Karen’s own divorce and the level of stress and conflict she dealt with.
  • The importance of being realistic about how your divorce will be handled. 

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.

Show Notes Transcript

High-conflict marriage will inevitably lead to high-conflict divorce, and today on Divorce At Altitude, divorce coach Karen McMahon is here to tell us all about her coaching plan for people looking to exit their high-conflict marriages. Tuning in, you’ll hear exactly what a high-conflict marriage is, why people stay in these unhappy marriages, how to rewire your mind, come out of your isolation, reimagine your life, and ultimately, end this unhealthy relationship, why divorce is a transformational process, and so much more! 

We also discuss why you need to stay on top of the laws and your finances when getting divorced, the importance of selecting an attorney that is right for you, and why you need to be realistic about how your spouse will handle the divorce. Karen even shares her high-conflict marriage exit plan with us before explaining why telling children about divorce separately is sometimes better. Finally, she tells us about her own high-conflict divorce and inspires some hope in anyone who may be experiencing something similar. 

Key Points From This Episode:

  • What the concept of a high-conflict marriage means to Karen. 
  • The most common reasons people stay in these unhealthy marriages.
  • How to rewire your mind when trying to get out of a high-conflict marriage. 
  • The importance of building a support network after the isolation of this marriage.
  • What reimagining yourself means in the context of a high-conflict marriage. 
  • Karen explores the transformational nature of divorce.
  • The importance of getting educated when getting divorced and knowing the law. 
  • Why you can’t have a bully for an attorney when ending a high-conflict marriage.
  • What goes into the exit plan for a high-conflict marriage. 
  • Why Karen thinks telling kids about divorce separately is oftentimes better. 
  • A story from Karen’s own divorce and the level of stress and conflict she dealt with.
  • The importance of being realistic about how your divorce will be handled. 

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.

************************************************************************

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 Goscha.

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

Amy Goscha (13s):
Divorce is not easy. It really sucks. Trust me I. know Besides. being an experienced divorce attorney, I'm also a divorced client.

Ryan Kalamaya (20s):
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. Karen, welcome back to Divorce at Altitude. Nice to see you again.

Karen McMahon (40s):
Thanks for having me.

Ryan Kalamaya (42s):
I know that your previous episode is one of our most popular ever on the podcast, so I know our Listeners are going to really enjoy and hopefully learn about high conflict marriages and how to properly exit them. So before we really kind of get into some tactics and things for people to consider, when I say high conflict marriage, what does that mean to you, Karen, so that we can establish kinda that baseline of what exactly we're talking about?

Karen McMahon (1m 15s):
It's such a great question. And so on the one hand, if you are in a relationship where communication, collaboration, cooperation seems to never line up, that's your first tell. And so I was just speaking to someone yesterday where their spouse is paralyzed. you know, so many people wanna go right to my spouse is a narcissist, but we can de be dealing with people who have tremendous trauma and they're paralyzed and indecisive and they get very triggered and dysregulated. And so they're gonna present as high Conflict, and that can happen throughout the marriage. Some of the tells are if they don't take any of the blame.

Karen McMahon (1m 59s):
So if it's always you, if there's always blame and accusation, no matter what you said, even if you're sitting there willing to take your part, but you're always a hundred percent wrong, that's a tell. If there's a complete lack of empathy for what you are going through and this need to constantly talk about themselves, that's a tell. A big tell is when you try to bring something to the table and talk about it, and the response that you get is you think that's your problem? That's my problem too, except it's bigger on my part. Or, well, wait a second, that's your problem. But my problem is, and so I call that the like deflect and defend dance and So, you find yourself constantly on the defensive and, and rarely getting an opportunity to address your concerns.

Karen McMahon (2m 45s):
Revisionist history, another client was saying, it just throws me that our memory of of events are so completely different, especially when there's Conflict or disagreement involved. And so there's this slavery where you're running up against something that's so confusing to you and you always seem to be either on the defensive or in Conflict. And what happens with high Conflict personalities is their comfort zone is chaos and Conflict. Whereas the average person, our comfort zone is calm and talking things through. Even if you're a little reactive, you're still more comfortable in the calm.

Karen McMahon (3m 26s):
People who have those high Conflict personalities, they thrive on the chaos and Conflict.

Ryan Kalamaya (3m 32s):
Yeah. For Listeners who don't know about high Conflict personalities or high conflict divorce, we're talking about high conflict marriages here, but Les Katz, we had a previous episode on Les Katz, and you know, for me, Karen, the Gottman Institute's well-known, you know, in in Seattle they talk about relationships and marriages and they have the kind of four horsemen of the apocalypse for marriages, but that is in contrast to the dead marriage. In our story of Eric and Melanie Wolf, it's a little bit ambiguous of whether or not this is a dead marriage where someone comes to me or to you Karen and they say, listen, it's just a business transaction at this point.

Ryan Kalamaya (4m 15s):
We haven't been intimate for years and it's just run its course. That is not really what we're talking about. It's the, the, the constant fighting the arguments that really is a high conflict marriage. So Karen, what are the most common hurdles or reasons people stay in high conflict marriages? Before we were recording, I was telling you that I have several people that have consulted with me. They have told me, I know that I am unhappy, I need to move forward with a Divorce, but it's been months and they still haven't pulled the trigger. My role is not to encourage people, but what are the reasons that people, you know, stay in those marriages even though they know the high Conflict is unhealthy and they're not happy?

Karen McMahon (5m 5s):
Yeah, I think that often when they come to us, they say they're confused, that they don't know, they're sitting on the fence. And the truth is, once we start poking around, they often know almost all of us, And I was in a high conflict marriage. All of us know, like, there's at some point we know there's something wrong here. This is not, this wasn't my plan. This doesn't feel the way I thought a good marriage would feel. And so a couple of things happen. One is fear. Just the fear. If you're in a emotionally, verbally, or physically abusive relationship, there's all types of fear. And oftentimes high Conflict personalities at least do that emotional and verbal.

Karen McMahon (5m 48s):
And so there's a fear. There's a fear because I've been listening to my spouse. So even if we talk about the fact that things aren't good, what they tell me is gonna happen is what the individual believes. And so it's a lack of education and a fear that I'm gonna lose my children. I'm not gonna have any money. I'm gonna be alone for the rest of my life. And so fear keeps people stuck. And then the other thing is when someone's actions and words are not aligned and you're in a high conflict marriage, you'll listen to the words even though they say they will do or they won't do A, B, and C, but then their actions don't align with that. And, and so a lot of people get talked back into staying and trying and staying and trying because the words sound so good, but the actions never follow.

Karen McMahon (6m 38s):
So that's another one. And, I hear this all the time, but, but he said, or she said that they're going to, okay, good. What do we see? What's been happening? And when people look at patterns, they can often tell. So I think fear, a lack of education, paying attention to words rather than actions are all ways that people can stay very stuck. And then if you've lost yourself, which many of us have in the high conflict marriage, your your, your ability to have confidence in your thoughts, be able to make good decisions, to be able to not constantly fall back into self-doubt.

Karen McMahon (7m 19s):
You've been chipped away at so much self-doubt and the lack of self-confidence is huge and that keeps people stuck.

Ryan Kalamaya (7m 26s):
Your podcast journey beyond Divorce, you're gonna be doing a series on high conflict marriages, right? Karen? Yes.

Karen McMahon (7m 36s):
We're doing a series where we're speaking to because there's so many more experts that are involved too. And so to educate people on the wide variety of support that's out there,

Ryan Kalamaya (7m 47s):
Right? And so we'll have links to the show notes, people should check that out. But let's really kind of get to brass tax and tactics here so that people, if they wanna learn more, they can check out your guys' series. But let's talk about some action steps for getting off the fence. The first one being rewiring your mind. So Can, you talk to me a little bit about what rewiring your mind is for someone in a high conflict marriage that knows that, that they really do need to take that next step.

Karen McMahon (8m 19s):
Yeah. And so our program get off the fence and Leave Your High conflict marriage is really, we've looked at what is it that keeps people stuck and what do they need. And so the rewiring your mind is so much of what we do and so much about what we coach about is it starts with your perspective. And so if you are thinking is off, everything's gonna be off. And so whether that's, and so often I'm gonna use he and she, she being the spouse that's leaving high Conflict just for the simplicity of it, he's the moneyed spouse. He told me, I'm not gonna get anything. I don't know what the numbers look like. And so I'm so afraid, I'm so afraid that I'm gonna be alone and I'm never gonna be able to do this.

Karen McMahon (9m 4s):
And so all of this thinking rewiring your mind is saying, let's slow down those thoughts and take a look at list will literally have people list all of your fears and thoughts and excuses of, of why leaving is gonna be too hard. And then let's have you start looking at what are your thought behavior patterns that aren't serving you? And let's do it with self-compassion, because you got here after years of being in a relationship that's chipped away at you. When we begin to have a different perspective, And, we begin to stand on firma ground, start having self-confidence and self-esteem.

Karen McMahon (9m 46s):
And so the rewiring of the thought process and the mind is bringing people back to their center to who they know they are and what they know they're capable of. And that often involves another step of building a support network. If you've been in a high conflict marriage, there's a very good chance you're very isolated. And so if you're no longer talking to people, then it's almost like you are being brainwashed in some ways because you're so insulated and So. you are hearing how bad you are and how wrong you are and how stupid you are and how you'll never and you can't and you won't. And so what we do is shift all of that between rewiring the mind and creating a really healthy personal and professional support system.

Ryan Kalamaya (10m 34s):
I love that it's kind of a take on C B T or cognitive behavioral therapy. And at least for me, sometimes I'll just, in my own personal life or whether might matter for my business, there might be a decision that we need to make. And I will list out on whether it's the worst possible outcome here. And when you really play that out, oftentimes it's not as bad as we make it up. Like, you know, I think Seneca, it says that our own worst enemy is ourselves, and that we think that people are looking at us or thinking about us more than we really are, which is a different take. But really I think people that they seize on the anxiety of the unknown and the fear, and it really, when they list out their their fears, it's not as bad as they really make it out.

Ryan Kalamaya (11m 26s):
Would you agree with that or do you have any response to that in terms of rewiring your, your mind,

Karen McMahon (11m 32s):
Your point on there? In fact, I like to say what we do is we take the worst case scenario squared and it's like, no, I'm gonna be in the gutter in the street with my kids and And. we always ask the question, just slow it down and ask yourself, how true is that? You might be moving back in with your folks, you might be moving into a two bedroom apartment when you've got three kids, but whatever your greatest fear is, how true is that? And so we do bring it back down to a reasonable level. And the other thing I wanna say about this, because it's so important, the difference between you being able to do that and someone coming from a high Conflict situation, there is such muck between our ears.

Karen McMahon (12m 17s):
We're so emotionally overwhelmed, we're usually flooded with cortisol so often because fight, flight, freeze, we're operating from our amygdala. And so there's no access to that logical brain, that frontal cortex where we can reason things through. So part of it in that rewiring too, is teaching people skills to get centered, to regulate themselves so that they have access to their frontal cortex and they can actually do these exercises. And so for those of who are listening who might feel guilty or bad, or shame that they can't leave, there's good reason that it's so hard to do all by yourself.

Karen McMahon (13m 4s):
You are in such a, a vice and without support, it's a very heavy lift, which is why we've created the Get Off the Fence program.

Ryan Kalamaya (13m 14s):
Yeah. For clients, they come to me, sometimes they will have that support group, but oftentimes they're on their own. They immediately reach out to an attorney, And I, think it's fantastic, the service that you provide Karen in terms of Divorce coaching and working through some of these things. So let's turn to our second action plan or step, and that is reimagining yourself. So Can, you tell me a little bit about What, reimagining yourself means in the context of a high conflict marriage and, and getting off the fence.

Karen McMahon (13m 50s):
It is so amazing, And, I've lived it, so I I'm not surprised by it. But after years of supporting people, we get so lost that you cannot see a future self. It's like when you think about it, it's just dark or you see yourself, your broken self. And so when we reimagine ourselves, we help people tap into their childhood, who they were, their talents, their gifts, their passions, like we help them to come alive again. And then, okay, let's look forward, let's look at what that's gonna look like when you're not belittled, berated, harassed, put down when you have the freedom, it's not gonna be a cakewalk.

Karen McMahon (14m 39s):
And yet what does that person look like? And what will you do with that? And when, when that kicks in and that creativity and that excitement and the choices and the possibility, it begins to catapult people forward and drive them. Because now, now you have an eye on a prize, you know what the prize is and you diminish the fears, you rewire the mind, you start focusing on who you wanna be, who you are, who you're capable of, rebecoming. And those two pieces together begin to move people forward very quickly.

Ryan Kalamaya (15m 16s):
This episode is brought to you by our law firm, Kalamaya Goscha Amy And I describe our law firm as an innovative and ambitious trial team that pushes the boundaries to discover new frontiers in family law, personal injuries in criminal defense, in Colorado. We currently have offices in Aspen, Glenwood Springs, Edwards, Denver, and Boulder. If you wanna find out more, visit our website, Kalamaya dot law. Now back to the show. I love the rebirth, the theme and, and that message that you really kind of lean into. Because for me, having kind of perspective, I've seen people go through Divorce, it is a real pain.

Ryan Kalamaya (16m 1s):
I mean it is a pain in the ass. I tell people that Divorce sucks, but I also see people, And I tell this to who are caught up in the fear and they're worried about their kids and what the process is going to be like when they're on the other end of that. And they're happier, they're better parents, they're better people. And I've seen people quit drinking or realize that they were caught up in poor habits or focusing on work too much. And they really do take that reimagining yourself to heart, and they come out of the process a much better person. It is, you know, one of the more rewarding aspects.

Ryan Kalamaya (16m 42s):
But I think having a professional like you we're gonna talk about next about getting educated, but having someone to, in a structured environment really help someone go through that process of reimagining yourself, I think is is invaluable.

Karen McMahon (17m 0s):
We have, it's just so powerful. So I started a series within our podcast called Voices of Celebration, And I, think we've got like 20 plus interviews now. And these are people who are scared to death, saw misery and terrible things ahead, and then they come on and say, I cannot believe that I'm saying this, but like this ended up being for me. And so that, that fire of refinement, that hitting the wall. And when you hit that wall, you do a couple of things. One is we help you to, to see that you didn't end up here because you're dumb. Your family of origin, your history leading up to that marriage all informed the person that you fell in love with.

Karen McMahon (17m 45s):
And then you go through the wall, you go through the fire of refinement and you become the self that you've known that you could be on some level and you wanna be, and, and our voices of celebration is so hope inspiring for people just entering because you can't imagine. And then you listen to these real life stories and it's like, wow, it it is, it's such a transition that sucks and that nobody wants. And yet it's utterly transformational if you use the pain to grow.

Ryan Kalamaya (18m 16s):
Indeed. And change is difficult, but let's say that someone goes through the rewiring their mind, they reimagine themselves. What's next on the action plan for exiting a high conflict marriage? Karen?

Karen McMahon (18m 32s):
Yeah. So a big part is what you know. And so, so often people are getting their information about what their Divorce is gonna be like and what the court's gonna do and how they're gonna end up based on their scorned friend, their brother who went through something different, their ex who's equally scared of them and just coming from that place. And so getting educated, speaking to someone like you, Ryan is absolutely on the front end. It's like if you don't understand what the law is and what your rights are, then you are operating from a deeper place of fear.

Karen McMahon (19m 12s):
You're operating from ignorance and it's never gonna serve you. And so the two people, and as coaches we ask, we don't tell, but the two tells are no matter what approach you wanna use to your Divorce mediation, collaboration, litigation, speak to an attorney, someone who specializes in Family Law, speak to a matrimonial attorney and find out the laws in terms of custody and equitable distribution in your jurisdiction because that is the only truth. And don't listen to anybody else. They're only, they're only making it more confusing. And so get a financial planner so that you understand your numbers.

Karen McMahon (19m 54s):
Some financial professional, you understand tax ramifications, you understand the finances A and b look like they're worth the same value, but they're not. Bring in that financial planner and bring in that matrimonial attorney. So at least you're operating from a place of knowledge and truth.

Ryan Kalamaya (20m 14s):
Yeah, Amy, And, I have a episode Karen on how to pick the best Divorce lawyer, And. we go through some of the steps and analysis that people should check out in terms of selecting the best matrimonial attorney for themselves. But one of the more common things for me is I hear, well, my friend got $10,000 a month, and that's what I'm gonna get in each circumstance. I don't know about you Karen. My observation is that Divorce, it definitely goes through runs of friends or groups of friends or pockets and it seems to kind of ebb and flow depending on the moon and the seasons.

Ryan Kalamaya (20m 56s):
We're recording this in early in the year and, and January is known as Divorce month. I mean these different aspects of relationships. It's fascinating for me to observe, but you know, I mean one of the reasons that we have this podcast and, and Karen you, your podcast is for education. It's a zero cost way for people to educate themselves, but they really need to drill down and speak with someone who is going to apply their facts to their own particular case and let them know this is what is a likely scenario. And I think it's, it's sage advice.

Ryan Kalamaya (21m 37s):
And for you, I, you know, appreciate what you guys are are doing on the emotional side because as a lawyer, you know, I'm a counselor at law, I'm a really expensive counselor. And I tell people you need to seek someone who's really trained in the emotional mental health aspects as well.

Karen McMahon (21m 55s):
Yeah, and and you just brought up such an important point. So I was talking about get educated by an attorney, picking an attorney. I'd like to just touch on that because people who are exiting high conflict marriages wanna hire typically a bully to bully their spouse. And what happens is they get bullied by both their spouse and their attorney. And it's so vitally important that if you are at that crossroads and you are looking for an attorney, you obviously want someone who knows the law, who's got some experience under their belt. But think about what you're coming out of. You haven't been seen, you haven't been heard, you haven't been explained to.

Karen McMahon (22m 37s):
You want an attorney who slows it down enough. If you ask the same question two, three times, they're kind, they're gentle, they're patient, they're hearing you, they're asking good questions, they're seeing you, they're responsive, they have good communication. I cannot tell you how many clients I have coached who have had to fire their maybe narcissistic attorney, but certainly an attorney who did nothing good for them and left them just feeling between more of a rock and a hard place. Do not do that to yourself.

Ryan Kalamaya (23m 12s):
I'm glad you brought that up Karen. And it's something that Amy, And, I touch on in, in that epso. But some people will come to me and they see me as being the sword by which they exact revenge and slay the beast. That is their significant other. And that is not, I'm not a tool, a Divorce attorney is not a tool to exact revenge. That said, if the person is in a high conflict marriage and the other spouse is narcissistic or there are, you know, issues they've been beaten down, they might know that they are gonna cave and just give in. And so they do need someone with a backbone. I that is a really fine balance between the bulldog and attack dog, you know, Divorce lawyer versus someone that is gonna be a good match and stick up for them.

Ryan Kalamaya (24m 2s):
And I think that that really depends. I mean, Amy is a different personality And, we have various people in our firm that are gonna be better personality matches for the particular client. And so Eric Wolf, our hypothetical Divorce client, he might need somebody different than Melanie Wolf. And really, but the, the core takeaway I think from this action plan is that you need to get educated first and then decide who's gonna be the best personality fit. But it starts with that core competency of knowing the law and then figuring out what, what it is that you need. So that brings us to our final step Karen, and that's to create a bulletproof exit plan.

Ryan Kalamaya (24m 46s):
So Can, you tell me and our Listeners about what goes into that exit plan for someone that knows that they need to leave a high conflict marriage.

Karen McMahon (24m 57s):
Yeah. And it's, it's very multi-tiered. And so on one level you're getting educated, right, which we talked about and the support team, which is a part of it. And then we take people through a process of, okay, how do I tell, when do I tell, what do I tell, what do I do when I tell? And so what do I say? Right? And there's all of this that you wanna say, and yet what's gonna be most effective in communicating? I've made a decision, And I need to leave. And so we, we walk, there's exercises to take people through that and it's so helpful to and cathartic to get it all out before you try and figure out just the little bit you wanna say.

Karen McMahon (25m 41s):
And then there's the safety issue. Are you in danger and are there children? And so what's gonna make sense in terms of when you tell, do you need to be away from the house that evening? Do you need to have the kids at a play date? And, and then right on the tail of that, once you do tell, well what's that gonna look like? Is someone moving out of the bedroom? Is there other sleeping arrangements? And if there are children of different ages, how quickly are you gonna tell them? And then if it's high Conflict, are you gonna tell them together? And this is such an important thing. You read anything about telling the kids and 99% of it says you absolutely should sit down and tell them together.

Karen McMahon (26m 24s):
I completely disagree when it comes to high conflict marriages, if you know that when you tell your kids your high Conflict spouse is gonna throw you under the bus is gonna vomit their anger or fear or upset on the children, you need to make that decision as a child-centric decision. And So you don't tell together because that's what you're told to do. You tell together because it's what's gonna be best for the kids. Or you tell the kids separately because, and And I wanna explain this, if I can talk to And I talked to my children, my children were four and six, And I decided to tell them alone. And this is before I knew anything.

Karen McMahon (27m 5s):
I wasn't coaching, I didn't, I just had this internal knowing that if I didn't pour a safe foundation around this topic for my kids, they would be absolutely slammed against the wall once dad got involved. And so I told them, And I explained it and it's gonna be okay, And, we'll both love you. And I did all of the right things, but I did it alone. And right after that, dad did it and it was quite the hot mess. The kids were immediately deregulated and So. you can't control that part, but you can pour the foundation, you can decide when and how to tell in a way that's gonna be best for your kids.

Karen McMahon (27m 46s):
And so all of that ends up being part of the exit plan. And our desire is to get you over that initial hump and two feet in the process with some sense of self-confidence and clarity and support system and knowledge so that you then are really beginning the marathon of Divorce. And so many people as you And I, have discussed, sit on the fence for months, years, decades, because they don't have a process to get them from where they are into the Divorce process. And that's what we're hoping to do.

Ryan Kalamaya (28m 23s):
It's been some years, but when you talk about that exit plan, I'm curious, have you seen the HBO series? Big Little Lies?

Karen McMahon (28m 33s):
No, I should,

Ryan Kalamaya (28m 35s):
I suppose. and there is. You, you absolutely should. And for Listeners that have seen it, then they'll probably remember. But there is this episode in based in Monterey, California, and, but there's this high conflict marriage where the husband, they, on the outside, they appear to have just this perfect marriage. They're both very good looking. Nicole Kidman is the the wife, but there is abuse going on. And she's goes and sees ther a therapist and you know, but then she has a, a second, she kind of builds up and she has a second apartment with a change of clothes and eventually she takes these two really beautiful boys, twins and, and leaves.

Ryan Kalamaya (29m 15s):
And it's, but when you watch the episode, it is such a powerful visual experience of living. And, and one thing I, I can I'll admit to is that I hear these stories, And I can become desensitized to it. But to really think about what it is like on a day-to-day for a listener that is in a con high conflict marriage, they will say absolutely everything Karen has relayed. That resonates to a deep part of my core because it, it is a, a, a very problematic and just anxiety ridden existence and to really come up with those action plans.

Ryan Kalamaya (29m 57s):
I think it is highly fact specific because I've seen it where someone leaves the marriage, they flee with their, their children and they go completely dark for, you know, a period of time. you know, if you win a Recipe for having a, a dramatic Divorce, well that is the kind of starting point, but it may be necessary. And it really depends. One thing I ask people in a consultation is how do you want your Divorce to go? And there's different, I think, scales of that high Conflict, you know, marriage there, it, it is appropriate in certain circumstances when safety's at issue to file that restraining order to leave, take the kids, go to a safe house or to, you know, a safe location.

Ryan Kalamaya (30m 44s):
But also at the, it, it could be that if you're in a high conflict marriage and you're fighting all the time, it may be that you don't need to do that. I think that that's where someone like you Karen a Divorce coach to really walk people through their options to decide so that they don't make these rash decisions and really come up with a thoughtful exit plan.

Karen McMahon (31m 7s):
Yeah, I completely agree. And you know, as you were talking, if I could just tell a little piece of my story, I, my kids were four and six, I had to live, our Divorce took three and a half years. And I couldn't leave the house. If I left the house, he could go to school, pick them up, and then they would be under his authority and not mine. And so we had an attic that was finished, And I lived in the attic. And I gave my kids walkie talkies and the, the school psychologist was involved and C ps came and the police came. And I I mean, I dealt with all of the bells and whistles of all of the high Conflict that you can have.

Karen McMahon (31m 46s):
And part of us being able to support people is teaching them about boundaries. Those of us who are in high conflict marriages, we are pretty lousy communicators. It's easy to become rageful and, and look like the crazy one. And so there's so much we do in helping people get regulated, learn how to communicate in effective way. I mean Bill Eddie talks about Biff, right? Brief, informative, firm and friendly. I must talk about that five days a week in my sessions. And so all of these things allow you to enter the Divorce. And then for your question, like how do you want your Divorce to go?

Karen McMahon (32m 27s):
I was talking to a fellow yesterday and when he finished telling me this smooth, amicable Divorce, he wanted And I asked a couple of questions about his spouse, And I. The question was very simple, when was the the last time you experienced communicating, collaborating, being cooperative together and moving things forward? He started laughing. He's like, Karen, I'm married 30 years. It never happened. And here is my saying, how goes the marriage? So goes the Divorce. So be in reality with that answer. Like don't don't think you can paint lipstick on a pig and that will work. It's going to be the same thing and it's gonna be hard, but on the other end of it's freedom and the next chapter and a beautiful chapter,

Ryan Kalamaya (33m 14s):
Well, I appreciate you putting a positive perspective on things and Karen as always, it's a pleasure to have you on the show. For Listeners that wanna learn more about Karen, we'll have a link to her podcast and her website in the show notes. Journey Beyond Divorce is the name of the podcast, Karen Thank You, so much for sharing your story as well as some concrete action plan and steps for exiting and getting off that fence for a high conflict marriage.

Karen McMahon (33m 49s):
Thank You so much, it's always a pleasure chatting with you Ryan.

Ryan Kalamaya (33m 53s):
Well, until next time, thanks for joining us on Divorce at Altitude 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 Podcasts, Spotify, or wherever you listen in. Many of our episodes are also posted on YouTube. You can also find Amy and me at Kalamaya.Law or 970-315-2365. That's K A L A M A Y A.

Ryan Kalamaya (34m 35s):
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