Divorce at Altitude: A Podcast on Colorado Family Law

Ep. 18 - Surviving an Abusive Spouse and Thinking Positively about Divorce with Jennifer Coulson

May 06, 2021 Ryan Kalamaya & Amy Goscha Season 1 Episode 18
Divorce at Altitude: A Podcast on Colorado Family Law
Ep. 18 - Surviving an Abusive Spouse and Thinking Positively about Divorce with Jennifer Coulson
Chapters
Divorce at Altitude: A Podcast on Colorado Family Law
Ep. 18 - Surviving an Abusive Spouse and Thinking Positively about Divorce with Jennifer Coulson
May 06, 2021 Season 1 Episode 18
Ryan Kalamaya & Amy Goscha

Studies show that almost 50% of women have experienced some form of psychological aggression by an intimate partner during their lifetime.

Whether you come to the realization of the unhealthiness of your marriage on your own or through therapy, the divorce process can seem daunting at first, especially when kids are involved. 

Vail Valley realtor Jennifer Coulson joins Ryan Kalamaya  to share her story of how she came to realize she was in an emotionally abusive marriage with a narcissist, and how that has formed her current, positive mentality surrounding divorce. 


In This Episode:

-       How Jennifer came to realize she was in an abusive marriage with an extreme narcissist

-       What health issues can manifest when in an abusive marriage

-       Why Jennifer says congratulations to her friends getting a divorce

-       How kids affected her decision to get a divorce

-       Adjusting to being a single mom

-       Mentality around conflicts that arise in a divorce 

Make sure to follow us to continue the conversation on Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter.  

About Jennifer Coulson 

Jennifer Coulson has over 15 years of experience in the real estate market in the Vail Valley, and has most recently expanded her real estate business to Cabo San Lucas, MX. She was the Coldwell Banker Distinctive Properties' Top Sales Person of the year in 2014, 2015 and 2016 in the Vail Valley. Jennifer also sits on the Steering Committee for the Healthy Communities Coalition and is also a member of the Executive Board of the Eagle River Youth Coalition

 

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

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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

Studies show that almost 50% of women have experienced some form of psychological aggression by an intimate partner during their lifetime.

Whether you come to the realization of the unhealthiness of your marriage on your own or through therapy, the divorce process can seem daunting at first, especially when kids are involved. 

Vail Valley realtor Jennifer Coulson joins Ryan Kalamaya  to share her story of how she came to realize she was in an emotionally abusive marriage with a narcissist, and how that has formed her current, positive mentality surrounding divorce. 


In This Episode:

-       How Jennifer came to realize she was in an abusive marriage with an extreme narcissist

-       What health issues can manifest when in an abusive marriage

-       Why Jennifer says congratulations to her friends getting a divorce

-       How kids affected her decision to get a divorce

-       Adjusting to being a single mom

-       Mentality around conflicts that arise in a divorce 

Make sure to follow us to continue the conversation on Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter.  

About Jennifer Coulson 

Jennifer Coulson has over 15 years of experience in the real estate market in the Vail Valley, and has most recently expanded her real estate business to Cabo San Lucas, MX. She was the Coldwell Banker Distinctive Properties' Top Sales Person of the year in 2014, 2015 and 2016 in the Vail Valley. Jennifer also sits on the Steering Committee for the Healthy Communities Coalition and is also a member of the Executive Board of the Eagle River Youth Coalition

 

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

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

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:
Hey everyone. I'm Ryan Kalamaya.

Amy Goscha:
And I am Amy Goscha.

Ryan Kalamaya:
Welcome to the Divorce at Altitude, a podcast on Colorado Family Law. 

Amy Goscha:
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:
Whether you or 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 the Divorce at Altitude podcast. I'm Ryan Kalamaya, one of your co-hosts. This week, I am joined by one of my favorite people and favorite clients, Jenifer Coulson. Jen is a top producing broker at Coldwell Banker in Vail. And she just recently journeyed into Cabo San Lucas, down in Mexico. And we'll get to that. Jen, welcome to the show.

Jennifer Coulson:
Thank you so much for having me, Ryan. Such a treat and always such a pleasure to see you.

Ryan Kalamaya:
Well, not always a pleasure given our prior professional relationship. But why don't you tell our listeners who don't know who you are? Where are you from and tell us your story?

Jennifer Coulson:
Sure. Thank you so much. So I was originally born in Kansas city. I'm a Midwest girl. I went to school in Texas and ended up living there for eight years, and then relocated to the mountains here in Vail, Colorado. I have two little girls and I was married for several years, and lucky enough to get divorced. And that's how we met. You were actually my second round of attorneys, because my attorney, after many, many successful decades of being a divorce attorney here in the state of Colorado, retired. I think my wasband, as I affectionately call him, put her towards her retirement a little more quickly than she was expecting. But he gave her a run for her money. 

Jennifer Coulson:
So, I've lived here now in the Vail valley, just over 20 years. And as mentioned, I've now expanded my business into the Cabo San Lucas market, focusing mainly in the San Jose area. I'm really excited about that new adventure, but also excited to be here with you today and hopefully, help somebody that is going through or is considering making a change in their life.

Ryan Kalamaya:
Yeah. So, can you tell us a little bit more about the marriage and how you have arrived at looking back very favorably on your divorce? Walk us through your marriage? Was it always tumultuous? Was it something that took you a long time to realize that it wasn't a good fit for you? Talk us through that experience for you.

Jennifer Coulson:
Sure. I was a really lucky girl, in that, I got to marry the guy that I had had a crush on my whole life. I met the man I married when I was in fourth grade. He was in sixth grade. And just like the eyes in a cartoon with the heart eyes, never had a chance with him. We went to high school together. We lived just a few blocks from each other. So we grew up together and knew each other our whole lives, and we connected after college. And at that time, we had amazing romance, I was so excited, I woke up in the morning just so excited to wake up next to 33 on the football team. It was just overwhelmingly full of joy in my life. And we ended up having two beautiful little girls. 

Jennifer Coulson:
And after I had my first baby, I definitely started to see a pretty massive change. I realized much further down the road and after a lot of intense therapy, that I was married to someone who was considered an extreme narcissist. And that made it very difficult to bring additional people into the relationship, my children. So when the focus was no longer just on him, the dynamic changed. And I realized I was a big part of that, now looking back, because I'm an enabler and I like to do everything for everyone. And that was a little bit more difficult when all of a sudden, I was raising two babies on my own, running a business. And it was a lot. 

Jennifer Coulson:
So, as things started to tumble downhill quite quickly, nobody really knew, because I am a master, as I think a lot of especially girls, are raised to just make sure their family is perfect, they are exuding the perfect lifestyle and the family unit. And my parents weren't really buying it at all. And so they finally said, "You know what? We will pay for you to go to one counseling session, and that should just be plenty for you to realize you need a divorce, Jenifer." Which, was mind boggling at the time.

Jennifer Coulson:
I'm being in real estate for 20 years. I've worked through the crash that was extremely difficult here. And we were a few years behind the rest of the country. And at that time, we chose to open a medical marijuana center, which was such an amazing opportunity. And I, again, got to help a lot of people. But that combination of him really being thrusted into that whole world, I think compounded the issues he was already having. So when I started going to therapy, I went to that one session and she looked at me and said, "I think you could get free counseling at a organization called Bright Future." And I said, "Okay, great. Free sounds awesome to me." And she said, "Well, do you even know what that is, Jenifer?" And I said, "No idea. But if it's free, it's for me, I bet you." And she said, "Well, it's a domestic violence foundation." And I just started laughing. I said, "I don't think I'm going to qualify for that. But sure, if you think it's worth my time." 

Jennifer Coulson:
I had a less than two minute phone conversation with the director of that organization and she said, "I think you should come on in, Jenifer. I think we might be able to help you." I was shocked that they would think I was even qualified, especially after a conversation that was so short. And when I got there, I began working with an incredible therapist. And as I say, if you're in therapy, you shouldn't be in it necessarily for the rest of your life if they're doing their job, much like you're working with a divorce attorney. Hopefully, you're not working with them for decades. You get your job done and move on. 

Jennifer Coulson:
And it took her a year to what she calls, break me from my loyalty, or even consider that I was in an unhealthy marriage. And I think one of the comments that was made to me, and I have repeated it so many times to other people is, "If you are really happy with the relationship you're in right now, and you would love for your children to be in the identical relationship, then stay in it. But if you would not be happy to see your son or daughter be in a relationship with the kind of person that you are currently living with, then maybe it's time to reconsider. Because, children traditionally will emulate what they know, and what they know is the lifestyle and the family unit you're creating for them and the environment they're living in." So, that was a real eye-opener for me. And then the real process started, which was the actual divorce.

Ryan Kalamaya:
Yeah. One thing I will tell clients that tends to resonate with them is, I'll say, "You are worth what you tolerate." And that in particular, sounds like it's applicable to you and your journey. I want to go back and ask you, so I'm interested in that you had this very short conversation. Well, first of all, you have a therapy session which is probably 60 to 90 minutes. And then immediately the therapist picks up on something in that session. And then you call Bright Future Foundation, which is a local battered women's shelter, essentially. And then immediately they say, "We detect something significant there." But then it took a really long time. So, what was that conversation like when you called Bright Future Foundation? What are the things that you said? And now in retrospect, hindsight is 2020. So, what were the things that you said that you didn't realize were really that significant?

Jennifer Coulson:
I think the amount of stress that I was under, and the amount of physical and health issues that I was having due to the stress at that time, was a major red flag for the person with whom I was speaking. Additionally, I just gave her a little recap of what was going on at the time in my life, in my relationship and the dynamic of what was happening in our household. And once I started the therapy and started working with them, I later found out, and of course, like you said, hindsight is 2020, you look back and say, "Wow, pretty crazy that I went through all that." 

Jennifer Coulson:
But it was very intense. There was an extreme amount of mental and emotional abuse that was going on. And to me, all the other stuff didn't even register, it didn't even hit high enough on the scale where it even made a difference, because there was so much of the other stuff going on, that it didn't even give me a time to breathe. And also at that point, with the financial component to it, a lot of people don't have the financial component. But I think when you're working as a team and you work together, the financial component can become very, very scary, especially I think to a lot of women. 

Jennifer Coulson:
Traditionally men, and we're seeing a shift in that, but a lot of times the men are the breadwinners. And so when you make that shift, it's scary to think, "Where am I going to live? Who's going to pay for the groceries? How am I going to take care of these children, get them to where they need to go, do my own job, sometimes create a new career?" I was lucky in that I had a career, but it wasn't where it is now. Because, it's impossible when you're caught up in that cycle, I think to be as successful. 

Jennifer Coulson:
You can use work as an outlet, which I think I've done a lot. And it's an option. It's something to focus on in lieu of the reality that you're living in, to just keep grinding. But it's difficult when you have the health problems, because it starts taking such a toll on you. And I think that was a real telltale sign for me that I had not realized. And I was dealing with vertigo, internal bleeding. They said it was eating myself away from the inside out. You had crazy things on my skin. It was nuts what was going on. And coupled with, of course, I think our audit had just started as well, which was the beginning of our seven year audit with the IRS. It just started at that time too. 

Ryan Kalamaya:
And so you mentioned, let's unpack that, you were-

Jennifer Coulson:
Right. 

Ryan Kalamaya:
I want to talk about the financial integration or the relationship you guys had that might've been different, but also to separate that out from the emotional aspects or the relationship there. So you were a real estate broker before or during the marriage, right?

Jennifer Coulson:
Correct. Before, during and after.

Ryan Kalamaya:
And then, so you had that business or that aspect of your life, but then you guys started a business and you did it together. And it was the dispensary that you guys started and you were pretty active in that, right?

Jennifer Coulson:
Extremely active. So, coming from a contractual background, I was handling all of the paperwork, which was a lot. We were running 40 to 60 doctor appointments a day through the store and doing all the med cards for everyone. This is of course before rec was legal, so everything was medical at the time. There was a huge learning curve, but I think one of the reasons that we were able to get our license approved so quickly, was because of our background. My wasband, as I like to call him, he was formerly a compliance officer for a trading company. And with my real estate background, we weren't your typical applicants for the licensing at that time. So I think we had a little bit of a leg up. 

Jennifer Coulson:
But now all of a sudden, we're working in a business with a whole different kind of customer than I'm used to working at in a luxury resort, real estate market. But he always wanted to keep the party going. He's a party boy, so for him, having a store like that was a dream come true. Everybody in town wanted to be hanging out with him now. 

Ryan Kalamaya:
So for you, you had to separate out the business relationship that it was going to be obviously inconvenient. There was going to be some emotional aspects, some financial consequences related to that. And we'll get into that. But you also were a young mom and you have the societal pressures, your parents are married. And that you guys had met and on the outside, everyone thinks that you are kind of this perfect couple. Walk us through that pressure and what it was doing to you in your decision to get a divorce.

Jennifer Coulson:
I think that it's very important for people to remember that, or in my eyes, there are three entities. You have the two people that are getting married, and then you have the marriage itself, which in my eyes, that becomes an entity of its own. So, destroying that, which is something that not only have you made a commitment to each other, but you've made oftentimes, a commitment to your family, to your friends, they've all been involved as well. We were both involved in debutantes, country clubs, we were raised in a society type of picture. So there were a lot of expectations. Moving to Colorado took a little bit of that pressure off, because we're not amidst all of it all the time, which was nice. But it still was something I was proud of. It was important to me, it was my life.

Jennifer Coulson:
It's something I committed to and was doing. There wasn't going to be a getting out of it, there wasn't going to be a divorce. There was going to be as figuring it out and working through it. And when I hit that therapy, I think I started opening my eyes that this isn't healthy and more importantly, it's really not healthy for your children. The children are a product of that marriage, so splitting up just the business, that's almost easy if you have kids. The children to me is really the hot button because they're the most important. But splitting up that business was easier probably for me than others, because of the fact that we had started the audit. 

Jennifer Coulson:
So the audit, I found out there were little over a half a million dollars worth of illegal deductions taken on our returns. So, that became a big issue. Our tax situation was out of control, and as my dad says to me, "Why would you sign that? How could you even sign that document?" And I said, "Aha." Since I was 18 years old, somebody who sent me a tax return, an accountant that I've paid or trusted or that we've worked with and said, "Sign this." So when my husband at the time, someone that I should be trusting more than anyone, hands me our joint returns, which we had been filing together for many, many years before opening the business, and says, "Sign this." I did. 

Jennifer Coulson:
So for me, I had to separate myself from the business because of the tax liability I knew was there. It was very difficult for me. I am a massive believer and proponent for cannabis and I loved being able to help all those people there. And I was very active in the political side of it. We had an incredible turnout in the polls here in Eagle County when that vote passed. So, we worked really hard at that. It was a cause it was very important to me, but obviously my children and my health come way before any business.

Ryan Kalamaya:
And that was back in the Wild West when Colorado was one of the first states to pass legal medicinal marijuana. And you guys were one of the first stores, if not the first store in Eagle county. And so then you have this tax issue, and if I remember correctly, it was in terms of the business and whether or not you could do various deductions, because under the IRS or the Federal law, it was still illegal at that point. And there wasn't really any guidance on what you could deduct so the federal government said, "You can't take these deductions for a business that we consider illegal." Is that fair summary?

Jennifer Coulson:
Fairly close. So there was a little more to it, but yes, basically that. And I think too that-

Ryan Kalamaya:
Right. Of course.

Jennifer Coulson:
It's tricky when you start dealing with, who's your biggest nightmare? And the IRS is someone that I would always say, "If you have the ability to avoid getting into a battle with the IRS, take it. Take that way out."

Ryan Kalamaya:
Well, let's talk about mentality, because you've been talking about therapy. And instead of the particulars of your divorce, what do you tell people when you have friends that say, thinking about getting a divorce or, "I'm going through a divorce."

Jennifer Coulson:
Absolutely. 100% of the time, my comment back is, "Congratulations. I am so excited for you." And it's been shocking over the years, that I've been saying that to people. And I say that to people that I've just met. I say that to people that I've known forever. I've had one person really have a hard time with my response. And that was interesting because she was completely in love with her husband, she thought she had a picture perfect marriage. And her husband just walked in and said, "I'm in love with my secretary. I've been with her for X amount of years. This marriage is over, here are your papers." That's so far from what I came from, and I can't imagine that. So, to anyone who's gone through that, my heart aches for you. I can't even imagine what a blow that had to have been.

Jennifer Coulson:
That being said, I think there's a lot of us that our hearts were broken a long time ago. So, and as I say congratulations to people, typically the response I get is, "Thank you so much." Every person I say that to says, "Oh, I'm so sorry. Oh, what can I do to help? Oh, I'm so... This is awful." And you know what? You are owed a congratulations. You have made a massive decision to make a change in your life that obviously something wasn't working for somebody, otherwise we wouldn't be getting a divorce. So whether it was your choice or not your choice, the bottom line is this, both people deserve to be loved by someone that actually cares about them.

Jennifer Coulson:
And if you're in a relationship where someone doesn't care about you or vice versa, again, I just really don't feel like you're doing your family any service. You're actually doing them a disservice to stay in an unhappy marriage, with children especially. I don't believe that I would have ever left my husband if I didn't have children. I don't know that I ever would have, because I think I probably would have just stuck it out and taken it. It wouldn't have, I don't know, I say that-

Ryan Kalamaya:
That's fascinating that you would say that, because most clients who come and consult with a divorce attorney like me will say, "I'm just trying it. I'm not sure if I should do this. I just want to stay together because of the kids." And it just logistically, it would be so much easier if they pulled the rip cord and they didn't have kids. The consequences are significantly less. So I'm fascinated why you would've stayed in an abusive relationship longer if you didn't have kids.

Jennifer Coulson:
I think because I wouldn't have ever even made it to therapy. I would have had enough time and energy to focus 100% on him, and our marriage, and our lifestyle and I would have just taken it. I've seen that in generations that have come before me and I think that I would have just stuck it out. That would have been my job. There wouldn't have been the children to... That was really for me, I could not have my girl. I have two girls, so there was no way I could have my two children end up with a guy like their father or to be in a relationship like we were in, and be treated like that, spoken to like that, the things that were being said in front of them. 

Jennifer Coulson:
My baby was just a year and a half when we split up. So I was pregnant, doing a lot of this stuff. It was intense. But I think just knowing how the dynamic was, the energy was in our house, I couldn't have that for them. I don't believe it's healthy and I think that honestly, when people say, "I'm staying for the children," it's selfish move. I think if you actually were caring about your children, you would do what was best for them. And I think if people really sat down and thought about it, what's best for them is not having two drivers in the house. And let's get real, for those people listening with little kids, your life is very, very different right now than it's going to be in a snap. Because in a second, they're not going to be with you anymore. Once they hit middle school, high school, they're with their friends, they're playing sports, they're out doing their activities, they're driving on their own, they're doing all these things. And I think if we all look back and think about our high school days, our college days, how much time did you really spend with your parents? Most of us, not much, right?

Ryan Kalamaya:
Yeah. I saw a statistics about that, I think it's a child spends 80% of their time with their parents up until middle school. And then the remaining 20% is the rest of their life, including high school. And that is really hard, especially for young mothers, to conceptualize. Because how many times have you said, "I never want you to grow up?" My son is four years old and he just got a haircut. There are times when my wife and I look at him and we look at each other and we're just like, "He's so cute when he's not throwing a tantrum." But you're like, "I want to just freeze you." And that dynamic is something that I think people have a hard time picturing what their life is going to look like in five years or 10 years, like you.

Jennifer Coulson:
Well, you just aren't needed as much, as far as the day to day from the second they wake up until they go on. When you have little ones, toddlers, four year old, maybe in school four or five days a week, and probably home pretty fast after and still home a lot. Once they... My daughter dances 26 hours a week, that's on top of school. So she gets home at nine o'clock at night. There's not that much time that we even spend together. So again, what's really going to be best for them? Their dad left the country several years ago and he isn't even in town. And let me tell you, having someone pick those children up from school even three days a week, so that I could work through the whole day without having to leave, and know that they're with their dad and that they're being loved, it was a big deal when they left. And everyone said, "Oh my gosh, how are you going to do it? How are you doing?" That's the first question they ask. How are you going to do it when they originally leave when you split?

Jennifer Coulson:
And for me, I said, "Well, imagine you're living with a angry, 14 year old stepson that just wants to party all the time. That's who I have in my house." That was my husband. And so when he left, all of a sudden, I go to bed and the house would look the same when I woke up. Oh my gosh, this is a miracle. No one is been out partying all night. Just to have the calmness, the energy change in the house when that dynamic changed was huge. 

Jennifer Coulson:
And again, it takes a little bit of time. It's not like they leave one day and then that's it. I also was really lucky because I had a baby. So, she still slept in the bed so I had somebody to snuggle with a little bit. But it was a change when she left and I'm in this big bed all alone for all those years. But I think that knowing that you have the opportunity to make that change in somebody's life too, that really needs to be the focus. Once he left the country, people said to me, "Oh my gosh, how are you going to deal with all the driving? How are you going to deal with all the not having any help at all?" 

Jennifer Coulson:
And it has been such an incredible change for the positive for my children. There's no back and forth. There's no, "I left my T-shirt here or I forgot my books there or I where's my homework?" None of the back and forth. And it's also, I think, healthier for them because he decided to get into a relationship with someone who does not like his children. And he has flat out said, "We cannot all live together because she hates them." She doesn't like them. And that's heartbreaking and obviously their loss. But again, I find it that my children probably more well adjusted because of that. 

Jennifer Coulson:
And he doesn't financially participate in their life, and hasn't for many, many, many years. So I fly them down to where he lives so they can see him and spend time with him, but he's not super active in their life anyway. So again, our motto is, find the positive in every single sub. Anything that happens, there has to be a positive.

Jennifer Coulson:
And there were a lot of very negative things happening, especially when he hooked up with this girl. She had... That's another fun story, but she works in an industry that isn't super safe for children. Let's just say that. So that was concerning. But we're very happy with the way things turned out. And here and I'm doing it alone on my own, doing parenting alone, financially responsible alone. So it is possible. And I think that women especially, have all kinds of powers they have no idea they have. And we're raised to not necessarily consider ourselves powerful. There are some that are very lucky that are able to participate in sports as females, and they are empowered there in different ways than others. 

Jennifer Coulson:
But a lot of girls are raised to be pretty, and be good wives, and speak when spoken to or keep your mouth shut. I'm obviously not super great at that last one, but I think that owning your power and understanding you can do it, is a big part of it than just having the confidence in yourself. But that confidence is difficult to find when you're in the middle of your world crumbling.

Ryan Kalamaya:
Yeah. And before we recorded this, you and I talked about some examples of things that you talk with your friends about. And you're in a unique situation, Jen. I can tell you that there are not very many people who have had the father just move away and throw up his hands and say, "I'm out of here." But going back to your divorce for advice for people in a divorce, what would you say to the person that's like, "Well, we've gotten down to the kitchen table, but I just can't give up the kitchen table." Or something like, there is the car or there is 20, $30,000, and that is the sticking point. We've all seen that or certainly, I have. But what would you say to that person, that friend that has really stalled out or is holding onto that last issue in their divorce?

Jennifer Coulson:
People have asked me that question many times, especially because we were in a really great position. We had four houses, we had this new business, we had all these things and I gave him everything. People say, "You gave him everything? Why would you do that?" I said, "So he'd leave." He didn't want to divorce me. And for me, listen, if he want the kitchen table, give him the kitchen table. It's not worth your time to fight over a kitchen table when you could go out and make enough money to buy a new table, and be over all the emotional turmoil that's happening while you're it. And I think people really get caught up in the moment and now they're finding their power. The power we were talking about before. All of a sudden they're finding it and they're saying, "Well, I'm got to get that $20,000 or I'm going to get that."

Jennifer Coulson:
And it could be $200,000, it could be $2 million. To me it's more about, can you move forward? And if you can figure out a way to move forward, you can, I always say, I can make it all again. I made it once, I can make it all again. I can do it on my own. I don't have to have somebody else. And to me, I always say, "Give it to him." In fact, I just had a conversation with another realtor, and she and the man she's divorcing, are both agents. And she said, "He wants to list the house and keep the commission. I'm going to list the house." I said, "What do you care? Have you seen what's going on in the real estate market? Quit jacking with this, let him have the house, let him have the commission, you're going to get you get half the profit. So that's the big money isn't the commission off the sale, the big money is going to be when you split the gain. You're going to get that, make him do the work, let him deal with all that."

Jennifer Coulson:
She said, "Well, I should be setting up showings." I said, "He's living in the house, you want to be the one calling, setting up the showings? This is a recipe for disaster." And the deal is, is it really worth $15,000 to have all that headache and be caught up in all that drama still? And my answer is, no. The second you take yourself out of the fight, which is really what you're in at that point, you're fighting over water bottles, kitchen tables, even house. 

Jennifer Coulson:
If you're fighting about your children, to me, that's worth the fight. If you're fighting over China, and I can remember that happening and him say, "Well, three more place settings." "Fine, take three more place settings, just sign the document." And that was for me. I was ready and emotionally ready to make that change. With especially women that are in abusive relationships, the statistic is eight times. You leave eight times before you finally leave. Eight times, knife to the heart. To get enough energy and confidence and power to pack up and leave, and then get sucked back in again, and then leave, and get sucked back in again. By the time people get to you, if they've already been through eight rounds of that, they are beaten down. 

Jennifer Coulson:
It is really deflating to be in that situation. The whole process is deflating because you've fallen in love. That's why you've gotten married in the first place. And it goes back to that marriage that I said is the third entity. And it really is to me like somebody is dying, you are losing subs. This entity is gone and you have to allow yourself to process that. You're going to be angry, you're going to be scared, you're going to be sad, you're going to be all those things. And I think once you just realize that and go, "Okay." It's often like a will. What do you do about the last few things? Is it worth destroying the relationship with your sister over one ring? Is it? I don't know. To me family is more important. And I think that's where it should stay. You can buy another dining room table. You can't buy back the 20 hours you're going to spend fighting over it. And you could spend that time with somebody who cares about you or someone who you care about, or your children or somebody like that.

Jennifer Coulson:
To me, it's not worth it, and that's the mindset you got to get in. You've got to get in the mindset of, what is my goal here? Is the goal to fight over the kitchen table or is the goal to be divorced? And so I always go back to that when my girlfriends will call and say, "Well, he wants this." And I said, "Give it to him. What do care?" "So well, then he wins." "You know what? I think that could play to our favor. Why don't we let him think he's winning." And this works for men too if you're dealing with... And I don't ever mean to say that this is all like boohoo for the female party. There are a lot of horrible women out there that have destroyed the lives of the men that they married. And vice versa, there's women marrying women, men marrying men. It doesn't matter to me. To me, it's genderless. It's a personality thing and how you treat people. 

Jennifer Coulson:
And hopefully, your divorce is amicable. Hopefully, people are saying, "I agree, this just isn't working out. So let's find the best way to do this for everyone." Unfortunately, for society, but fortunately for you, Ryan, that isn't the case. That's why you are so successful in what you do.

Ryan Kalamaya:
Well, Jen, thank you. But I do want to go back to a couple of things that you talked about that I think are worth noting. And that is that you mentioned that the end of the marriage is like a death. And we frequently talk about in our firm, about the seven stages of grief. And we have to talk with our clients about where they stand and to the extent, and a lot of people they don't even understand what they're going through. You're so in the thick of it. Like you said, you had to go through a year of therapy to really understand yourself, and you have a much better idea of where you're at. But when you're so in the thick of it, you're not like, "Oh, I'm in denial right now. I'm in the current process of transitioning to acceptance." 

Ryan Kalamaya:
Acceptance, isn't happiness, but you can go through these various stages. Your friend, she mentioned she was undoubtedly going to be very angry at a certain point because her husband surprised her and said "I'm in love with my secretary." And so, you go through these different stages and frequently what we see is, people are at different stages. And so you mentioned that you just had to give him everything. And just for our listeners to be clear, I did not represent you in your divorce. So I did not-

Jennifer Coulson:
Not initially. You're second round. 

Ryan Kalamaya:
No. Right. So, I did not recommend giving away the firm. And so for me, it's always difficult to guide my clients who they might be willing to give everything and maybe that might not be in their best interest longterm. There are some things, maybe $2 million. There are some things that's all relative. But you mentioned that your husband, he didn't want to get the divorce. And so you had to kind of navigate that and it's a challenge, because you look at the other party and you say, "I could offer them everything." And they still wouldn't take it because they don't want to be divorced, or if they're angry, or if they are in denial, it's counterproductive. So you have to take that. 

Ryan Kalamaya:
Something that we talk a lot about with our clients about, where's the other person? Is this something that's we can even go forward in a productive manner, or are we just going to bang our head against the wall and make settlement offers, but the other person's just not emotionally capable of dealing with that? So, does that resonate with you or did you have a similar experience? It was a long time ago, and you mentioned various issues related to that, but is that something that's similar to what you went through?

Jennifer Coulson:
I think so, and I've seen it with my girlfriends too, or other friends of mine, men and women that have gotten divorced. And that's where having a great attorney really comes into play, because you have someone that's protecting your best interests. And sometimes, when you're caught up, like you said in the thick of it, you aren't really your best advocate because what you are... A lot of people are tunnel vision that they're just want to get divorced, a lot of people... For me, I had monster financial issue that was pending AKA the IRS. So to me, that was a real catalyst for me to say, "It would be better to give him A, B and C, than have to get into that fight with the IRS, for those items. But, other girlfriends of mine, some who I've actually sent to you guys, they said the same thing, "Well, he can just have everything. He's the one who's worked so hard. My job, I didn't make as much money."

Jennifer Coulson:
And that's where I think a mediator is so great too. Maybe you start out with your attorneys and a mediator there. And in her case, both the mediator and the attorney came back and said, "You deserve more than that." And that's another thing. If you've been in a relationship where you've been constantly told, "You don't deserve anything. "You're worthless, you don't contribute anything, you don't deserve anything." When you've heard that for so many years over and over again, they're just winning again because they've planted the seed that you're worthless and deserve nothing. And so then when it comes time for a divorce, there is no time more important to have an attorney that can say, "You are worth more, you deserve more and I'm going to fight for you and get it." Because, what you think you want right now is completely different than what you think you made, what you actually may need or that you believe you deserve three, four years down the road.

Jennifer Coulson:
And then you're going, "Wait a minute, why did I just give all that away? Why did I just let him have all that?" And that's why having someone like you is so instrumental because you're not caught up in it. And I can remember calling you with tears and just saying, "I can't. I can't do this anymore. I can't fight this fight anymore." And you're saying, "I got this Jen, let me do my job. Let me do what I'm doing here." And at that time, it's also, you remember attorney is much like a doctor in a lot of ways, you have a personal relationship with them and they are really there for you. That's why they're there. And nobody else in your life is like that, your parents aren't, your family isn't your children aren't, your friends aren't. Everybody has a little bit of a different view on it, but not you. That's your job and I think you guys do such a spectacular job of it is that you really fight for what is best for your client, not just best for your business. You're really looking for, what's going to be the best for everybody and all the parties concerned, especially the children? And again, I know I keep going back to that, but a lot of times with the marriage, the product is the children.

Ryan Kalamaya:
Absolutely. And we have to figure out in every case, it's determining what the priorities are. And one of the common questions we ask in any consultation is if we could wave a magic wand. We can't repair your marriage, we can't go back and undo the abuse, but going forward in this divorce, what do you hope to achieve? And then it's the priorities, and in the kids are usually at the very, very top. But also figuring out how much conflict is normal? There's going to be some conflict in terms of that there's a divorce. They are sure it's a dead marriage, but there can still be conflict and it doesn't have to be contentious. You can work through it respectfully and efficiently. 

Ryan Kalamaya:
But just a disagreement, that of itself is conflict, but how much is that that is just natural and healthy, compared to that name calling the disrespectful that wear your whole time and energy, you're distracted from your work. How much is that? And is it over a water pitcher? Is that a good cost-benefit analysis? No. But for $2 million or for time with your kids, that's the sort of thing and we have to draw back to our clients of, "Hey, remember when we first met and you said this." Because oftentimes with people, it can be a moving target where they get X, Y, and Z. And that's what they originally said where their priorities, but now they want A, B and C, and it's just because they just want more. And they just want to feel like they won their divorce and kind of taking a back and saying, "Listen, you told me that you wanted X, Y, and Z. If you want to keep this going, it's going to cost you a lot in paying us."

Ryan Kalamaya:
It's also one thing we can't put a dollar figure on, how much is it worth your mental health and your time? And people can often times lose sight of that. And you have obviously a different perspective because you've been so far on, and have been extremely successful. So, for those people, in terms of parting words, Jen, who are looking at a divorce or have gone through a divorce, and they're still credibly bitter, if you could have a billboards in Eagle county, but if there was a billboard that you could put up for those people, what would it say?

Jennifer Coulson:
Ooh, that's a good one because I'm kind of long-winded, I might need a minute to shorten it up enough on a billboard. But in theory, something to the effect of how much is your time and your sanity worth? And what kind of parent, friend, partner are you going to be moving forward if you're consistently focused on, or if a majority of your brain is consumed with this? And I think in business, a lot of times they say, "How much is your time worth? Actually put it out. How much do you make in a year? How many hours do you work? Divide it down. Okay." So, is it worth $300 an hour? Is it worth $1000 an hour? Is it worth to be in this fight? A lot of times, I feel like you get in the fight to fight. You're not in the fight to actually get an outcome.

Jennifer Coulson:
And the thing to remember is, works with this perfectly, you get married, you have a wedding to get married, not the wedding. And I think when people are in the process of planning the wedding and getting the gifts and doing all the things, it's about the wedding. It's not about the marriage. And it should be about the marriage and they get focused on that. Same thing when you have a baby, someone said, "You get pregnant to have a baby, not a birthing experience." So, it isn't about exactly how it's supposed to be, it's get the baby out healthy. However, that's going to happen, that's where your focus needs to be. And I think again, you're getting a divorce to move on and have a better life, not to be in a divorce. Is the goal to be in a divorce for years on end? Take it from me, that's not the best way.  

Jennifer Coulson:
The best part of the divorce would be to actually get divorced. And then guess what? The beautiful part of it is, now you get to create any life you want the way you want to live it. And no one else is telling you what you can or can't do anymore. And you get to be the hero of your own story. And again, certainly if you have children, you will be their hero for making a decision that's for the betterment of their life and hopefully, yours. And you're a happy person because of the choices that you've made.

Ryan Kalamaya:
Well, Jen, I think that's a great place to end. Thank you. And again for anyone, we've done a separate podcast on, or episode on selling real estate. But if you are looking to sell a real estate, where can people find you Jen, on online or on reach out?

Jennifer Coulson:
You are so sweet. Thank you. And again, I am so appreciative of you asking me to come on today. And if anyone is needing help, I highly recommend calling Ryan and Amy. Their team is incredible. And everybody that works with them is incredible and very thoughtful, which is important because you really want somebody who cares. If you're looking to purchase real estate, either here in the Vail Valley or the beautiful area of Cabo San Lucas, Mexico, you feel free to email me at jen, that's J-E-N, @coldwellbanker.com. You can also find me at searchinvail.com online. And I would be more than delighted to chat with anyone. And hopefully, this will help somebody. I just hope my story can help someone make a better decision or move in a more positive direction than they were going before they watched today. Thanks again for having me.

Ryan Kalamaya:
Thanks Jen. 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 [email protected] 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 .law.