May 24

Theresa Beran Kulat – How To Design Your Relationship So It Lasts

Episode Description

Relationship success starts with choosing the right person to be your spouse or partner, and then making sure that you and your spouse/partner are on the same page about the issues that matter. That includes talking about your values, how you feel about children, and your visions and ideas about money.

Theresa Kulat is a lawyer, mediator, Collaborative Divorce Professional, and energy worker who helps her clients create intentional relationships with those they love. Whether a couple is just contemplating marriage, or is trying to reconfigure a marriage or relationship that isn't working, Theresa uses a process of intentional relationship design to help that couple create the marriage or relationship they both want. 

Show Notes

About Theresa

Theresa Beran Kulat stands for healthy relationships. For over 20 years, she has been helping families heal through her working as a divorce mediator and Collaborative lawyer.  She is a Fellow of Collaborative Divorce Illinois, having held many leadership positions including President in 2016 and 2017. She also belongs to the International Academy of Collaborative Professionals and the Illinois State Bar Association. Her writing credits include: “Holistic

Divorce: An Opportunity for Transformation”, published in Stress-Free Divorce and the “Collaborative Process Act Chapter” in Gitlin on Divorce. Her law firm, Trinity Family Law, provides holistic divorce services.  Theresa also has mastery level training from TantraNova Institute and Quantum Healing training in The Rowley Method and has been an astrologer since the 1980s.

Where to Connect with Theresa

You can find Theresa on Instagram at T. B. Kulat, on Facebook at Trinity Family Law, on LinkedIn at Theresa Beran Kulat, and you can find her law firm at Trinity Family Law.  You can also learn more about Theresa’s offerings in the areas of personal growth and development on her personal website at  TB Kulat.

Special Offer

Podcast listeners – sign up for Theresa’s newly launched course “Seven Ways to Save Your Marriage” and save $250.  Use code PASSION250.

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How To Design Your Relationship So It Lasts


couples, marriage, prenup, married, person, relationship, important, divorce, people, Theresa, ballet, conversations, work, talk, values, gottman institute, intentional, design, create, point


Karen Covy, Theresa Beran Kulat

Karen Covy  00:03

Hello and welcome to Off the Fence, a podcast where we deconstruct difficult decision making so we can find out what keeps us stuck. And more importantly, how do we get unstuck? I'm your host, Karen Covy, a former divorce lawyer turned coach, author and entrepreneur. With me today is Theresa Beran Kulat, and I'm going to retrace his bio because, well, let's say this, I'm going to read a piece of Theresa's bio. So, you can at least understand what kind of an amazing person we're dealing with here.

Theresa Beran Kulat stands for healthy relationships. For over 20 years, she's been helping families heal through her work as a divorce mediator and a collaborative lawyer. Along the way, she began holding space for couples who didn't want their marriage to end, but who wanted to create a new marriage. Now this offering, which Theresa calls Intentional Relationship Design has been expanded and is now available to couples who may not yet be married, but want to be conscious in the creation of their partnership. Theresa, welcome to the show.

Theresa Beran Kulat  01:11

Thanks for having me, Karen.

Karen Covy  01:13

I am so excited to have you. For those of you who may not know, Theresa and I have been colleagues and friends for more years than I will admit to. I'm so excited, and I want to dive in right away into Intentional Relationship Design. This is something that I find to be so fascinating. And it's kind of unique to you, you're the creator of it. So, can you explain to our audience, what is intentional relationship design? How does it work? All the good stuff.

Theresa Beran Kulat  01:42

Thank you so much. Thanks for reading the bio, because it kind of explains how I got here. So, as a person who was married, and back in the day, we did sort of like a pre-Cana sort of thing, where my husband-to-be and I talked about important things. Right? I really see there's value in a couple discussing important things before they tie the knot. Okay? Because sometimes we just kind of fall into a relationship or a marriage and we haven't really talked about a lot of things.

So, as a divorce lawyer, I saw kind of the things that were undermining people's success. And then in the couples that when they came in, and they said, “Well, we really don't want a divorce. But we don't like our marriage anymore. How can we make a new marriage?” Again, I would see the sorts of things that as a mediator, we take for granted. So, having conversations that are difficult, but that really touch on what's important to create that partnership, and create those communication structures that are going to get help a couple make it through the tough times.

Karen Covy  02:54

That makes so much sense. And I want to back up a little bit and just go over a few things. For people who don't know what pre-Cana is, can you explain a little bit about what that is?

Theresa Beran Kulat  03:06

Sure. So, I was raised Catholic. My former husband, I'm no longer married, but he was Lutheran. So, there is a system in the church where you would actually work with a priest or a pastor. We did like a little questionnaire about things that were important to us: Did we want to have children? Did we not want to have children? Those sorts of things, and it's structured. But nowadays, more and more couples are really not connected to a church. They may have a spiritual connection, like one of the couples that I've worked with in Intentional Relationship Design, they both have yoga practices. They did have like a spiritual practice, they had an asana practice, but they did not have a structure for talking about their relationship, and particularly the money. So, I'll say that. Even in pre-Cana where I'm going to use that term, generally, we didn't talk about money. But again, because money is often what can cause problems in a relationship, the couples that I've worked with, it's very important to talk about money, and to talk about like their values underneath their decisions and their behaviors.

The other genesis of the program was prenups. So, I, as an attorney, have been asked to support people doing prenups. I'm a spiritual person, right? So, I wasn't going to just go right into the money pieces that the lawyers in general are just about the money, I wanted them to talk about, what are their values? What are they afraid of? What do they want to create? And so, the conversations to create the prenup were very different. Because they were grounded in, you know what's important to each person? And what did they like and what was important to them together versus individually. And so that's again, kind of the genesis of it, the prenup. And when you have children from a prior marriage, that's an important thing to talk about and create agreements, right? Because so often when you fall in love, and you decide to get married, there are agreements, but they're sort of unconscious, they're unspoken, they're informal. And people are afraid to actually talk about what are the assumptions? And what do they need? And what do they expect? And so having a third person there, a neutral third party creates a space where they can say things that they otherwise probably wouldn't if they were just the two of them, because it's a little scary.

Karen Covy  06:08

Yeah. 100%. I've worked with a lot of people, a lot of divorcing couples myself, obviously, and a lot of times people go into the marriage, like these unconscious, unspoken agreements that you talk about. That's the area that causes so many people problems, because I may be getting married and I assume, or I agree, or whatever, that I think the marriage is going to be this way. I've got this idea of what my new spouse is going to do or not going to do. And he may have no clue that those were my assumptions, my agreements, my unwritten, unspoken contract. So, how is it that you are able to pull out what is unspoken and make it spoken?

Theresa Beran Kulat  06:57

Awesome question. The overview of the program that I've been doing with couples is six sessions. So, I start with the very first session that’s all about appreciations. And it's actually research-based using the research from the Gottman Institute. So, if you've got connections and I have lots of therapists in my world. So, I always start with the appreciations because the next kind of levels are the difficult parts.

Karen Covy  07:27

Let me stop you. I hate to interrupt but just for people who might not know what the Gottman Institute is, I mean, you and I understand that, therapists know it. But what is the Gottman Institute?

Theresa Beran Kulat  07:38

Sure. So, John Gottman started studying couples in the 70s, in the 80s. And as part of his research, the team watches couples, they started out like through a two-way mirror. And then now, it's very elaborate. They have this apartment that the couple lives and there's cameras. And in one study, they hooked them up to like heart monitors. The research team coded the behaviors of the couples. So, the Gottman Institute is very large. I mean, he and his wife now are partners. And so, this research now they train therapists to help understand how couples interact, and they can actually predict with 98% certainty, which couples will get divorced and who will be able to survive their marriage.

And then the next level, this is where I feel I'm aligned, is using that research, how can we teach couples skills that will then allow them to avoid those breakdowns. True confession, if I'd have known this stuff when I was in my marriage, I probably wouldn't be divorced. But I didn't know and nobody told me, so I feel like that's part of what I want to help people do. So, the Gottman Institute, it's still going strong. You can Google it. There are Gottman certified therapists. That's like the beginning because again, think about a prenup. People come in, “Oh, I'm going to keep my stuff and I'm going to keep this.” But let's talk about what do we share and what's important to us together to move on?

So, you asked how do I open up those next level conversation? So, the reason I say that is we start with the positive, because you don't want to jump into what's wrong without remembering what's right. As a spiritual person, what you put your attention on grows. So, let's put our attention on the positive things.

The next kind of phase is helping people look at, well, what does marriage even mean to you? And what is your family of origins history around marriage? So, for example, one of the couples that I work with, they were not yet married, they were living together, they had not yet decided whether or not they were going to be married. Does that makes sense? So, that's what Intentional Relationship Design is about. It's creating the space for them to talk about it. So, each of them, I asked the question, what does marriage mean to you? And then they answered, and then the other person got to hear them talking to me, which is different than them talking to each other. And then I can see from, again, working with thousands of couples, the patterns in there. And I can articulate to them.

So, for example, in one of the cases, I had a woman who her mother had never married, either of the fathers to any of their children. And there were like four siblings, like half siblings, and they all were a family. But the mother had never married either of the men. The man came from a much more traditional background. So, he had heard it, but it never really sunk in, until he heard her telling it to me that the actual word marriage didn't mean anything to her the same way it meant to him because in her mind: Well, we were a family, they just weren't married. So that's an example of just creating the space for people to have conversations that they wouldn't normally have.

Karen Covy  11:43

So, it sounds like you start with the appreciation, then you take them through what does marriage even mean to you, and then where do you go from there? What other kinds of like issues? Because this podcast is focused on decision making, right? And in this process, it sounds like the couple has a lot of conversations to have and decisions to make about do they want to then get married or not? Or what behaviors do they have that they want to modify, change, keep in order to create the relationship they want? So, after they do what does marriage mean, what's the next step?

Theresa Beran Kulat  12:23

Okay. So, I'm just taking my notes, because there's two things that come next. One is, this is kind of fun. I have them each tell me privately, because it's like mediation. It's technically a mediation engagement when they work with me privately. So, we do joint sessions, and we do individual sessions. In an individual session, because I don't want the other person to hear. I don't want woman to hear what men says, I don't want men to hear what women says. I have them give me probabilities.

And I say, “Okay. I'm going to say a variety of things. One year, three years, ten years, what is the probability that you guys are going to move in together? What is the probability that you'll have children? What is the probability that you see that you would get married? What is the probability because at this point, we've done some preliminary work that you might move in together or buy property together? So, what's cool there is they haven't really thought of it that way. Like, she, again, didn't care about marriage, but she did care about having children. So, for her, the probability of having children was higher than the probability of getting married. So, then he tells me his perspective, and then we kind of come together. So, that's one of the things that we do next.

So, I'm also trained in various healing modalities, including like a quantum healing. So, there's a recognition in my world that there's an energetic reality that informs our physical reality. The reason I say that is that sort of the probability thing, if you know anything about quantum physics, it's like you don't know for sure, but what is the probability that something's going to happen? So, I say to them: I can tell you with 100% certainty, you will have breakdowns in your relationship. There will be places where you disagree. Gottman, actually, there's research about this, that he calls them perpetual problems, meaning there are problems that actually do not have a solution. So, for example, if one person is very messy and another person is incredibly clean, you're probably not going to change the other person's behavior. So, successful couples have found ways to live with the disagreement. So, that's an example.

So, the next kind of part is I teach and this kind of comes from my Tantra training, ways to communicate, ways to ask for what you need, difficult conversations. Now, that framework comes out of the Harvard Negotiation Project, which is as a mediator. And then I vaguely mentioned to you Cuddle Party rules. So, if I may--

Karen Covy  15:33

Yes, please explain what is a Cuddle Party? I have to admit, until we started talking, I never heard of this.

Theresa Beran Kulat  15:41

Okay. So, the reason it's important, and it's actually right on point with your podcast, humans need physical contact and our bodies have a wisdom and an intelligence. Okay? And in the Intentional Relationship Design process, what I explained to people, and then they agree with me is that the worst thing you can do is if somebody makes a request, and you want to say yes, but you say no, or you want to say no, but you say yes, because your conditioning tells you, you don't actually get to be true to yourself. Okay. So, the connection to cuddle parties is, and I will say this is my personal journey, when I was in my marriage, I was conditioned since birth not to actually have needs of my own, let alone ask for what I needed or wanted. So, in a cuddle party, prior to the actual cuddling, it's called a consent and boundary workshop. And the people in the room learn Cuddle Party rules. One is you don't touch a person without making a verbal request and getting a verbal yes. So, in other words, so often in our culture, either we do touch people, or we don't touch people without really checking in to see if they're comfortable or okay with it. And in Cuddle Party, you get to practice. So, then the next rule is, if you're a yes, say, yes. If you're a no, say no. And then there's other rules, like if you're a maybe that means no.

And you can change your mind, that's another rule. And where it applies in the Intentional Relation Design process is I was working with a couple. They'd been married 30 years. This was a couple who thought they might need to get divorced. But we did appreciations. I talked to them about some of these things. I'm not making this up, they had not slept in the same bed for about 10 years. And the man wanted more physical contact, and basically said to the wife, “Well, can we sleep together again?” And she kind of freaked out. Like, “No.” I explored and I said, “Well, what kind of touch do you guys have now?” And basically, they would sit on two different chairs, they didn't hold hands. They didn't do anything physical. So, to jump right to that was disturbing to her. The other feedback she gave me was, “Sometimes I do want to hug him. But I'm afraid he's going to turn that into something else.” So, we did the Cuddle Party exercises, which I won't go into now unless you want me to. It's fascinating. But the yes game and the no game, basically. I'm just going to do it quickly. So, right now, Karen, everything I say to you, you have to say yes. Okay?

Karen Covy


Theresa Beran Kulat 

Okay. So, Karen, is it okay if I come over and weed your garden?

Karen Covy


Theresa Beran Kulat 

Awesome. Can I poke my fork into your hand?

Karen Covy  19:20

No, no. Yes.

Theresa Beran Kulat  19:23

You have to say yes. Okay? And is it all right if I use a four-letter word here on the podcast?

Karen Covy


Theresa Beran Kulat 

Okay. So, the point is, when you say yes, but you mean no, you can feel it in your body. Okay?

Karen Covy

Yeah, absolutely.

Theresa Beran Kulat 

That would be my message to your listeners. You have to make a decision, pay attention to what your body is saying when you try saying it out loud. Yes, I want to go to the Bears game, or yes, I want to go to see the Joffrey Ballet. That's an example of a couple who they may have different interests, right. And so, husband wants to go to the hockey game and wife wants to go to the ballet, which now leads me to another thing that I teach, and that is managing your expectations. Like, in a relationship, this was another again, I'll claim like, myself here, your partner is not going to be everything. And so, if something's important to you, then to the greatest extent that you can meet it together, great. But just because he doesn't want to go to the ballet doesn't mean you need a divorce. Find somebody else to go.

Karen Covy  20:49

But I think it comes down to exactly what you're describing, in being true to yourself, being honest, which so many couples, by the time they see us, the honesty between them has been gone for longer than the physical intimacy, right? So, it's about when you want to do something, if you want to do it, say yes. If you don't, say no. I think a big element in this tell me if I'm missing the boat, but an important factor would also be not taking offense at the other person's response. Am I right?

Theresa Beran Kulat 

Yep, absolutely.

Karen Covy

Not taking it personally, that if your spouse doesn't want to go to the ballet, maybe it's because he doesn't like the ballet and it has nothing to do with you.

Theresa Beran Kulat  21:42

Yeah. And if I may talk a little bit about sex. Right?

Karen Covy

Of course.

Theresa Beran Kulat 

Because that's an area that in Intentional Relationship Design, because if you're going to have a marriage, a romantic partnership, sex is an issue. If not, you're just roommates. And that's, again, when people find us because they've lost that physical intimacy. But with a third-party, and again, I have some training in this, we actually talk about how often to have sex, how long to have sex, who gets to initiate. And sometimes people have trauma in this area. Right? And so, one partner might know about the other partner's trauma, but they haven't quite navigated, “Okay. Well, what do I do when she starts crying? I think we're having a great time having sex, and now she's bawling and crying.” Like, that happens. So, to be able to talk about it, and then give them skills and language. In one particular case, the agreement was how often, they agreed twice a week. And one time he's going to initiate, the other time she's going to initiate. Part of you goes, “Wait, that’s not romantic.” Yeah, but the other part goes, but if one person has to keep initiating, they then turn into, “Well, what's wrong with me? Because he doesn't want me or she doesn't want me.” And so, by talking about it, and then they realize, “Okay, yeah, I really do want to initiate, but I was making up stuff.” Anyway, that's another interesting thing about another exercise that we do.

Karen Covy  23:31

It’s so interesting that you mentioned the: Oh, but that's not romantic part. I don't know--well, I do know, but where we get all these ideas about. Again, it goes back to one of the original conversations, what a marriage should be, right? What should sex look like? How much should we do? It's all the should’s. And what we don't understand or a lot of people don't realize is that you as a human being weren't born in real world thinking this, right? You picked up on from parents, from teachers, from friends, from all these different places and people outside of you what your should’s are. And while it may not be romantic to say, “Oh, I should initiate once a week.” It's also not romantic to have your relationship falling apart because you expected your spouse to be a mind reader. And I hear this from men, especially all the time, because men and women just think very differently. We just start with that. And the woman expects the man to understand exactly where she's at: How come? He should know this, right? So, I'm not going to talk about it. I'm not going to tell him. I'm not going to give him any hints about what I think he should be doing, but he should just be doing it.” And that isn't really the way to make the best relationship.

Theresa Beran Kulat  24:57

Okay. So, I'm going to share. I have some of the tools that I use right here in front of me. One of them because it's connected. So, there's a guy named John Ford and he created this their needs cards and feelings cards. He called it the empathy sex. And because you just pointed to something, men do not have the same vocabulary that women do. Okay? And so, for example, in the feelings cards, there's a ton of them, and then I throw them out in front of each person. And what are you feeling? Are you feeling sad? Are you feeling disappointed? Are you feeling overwhelmed, inspired, calm, lonely, exhausted, interested? So, the point is, like a man doesn't have, and it's just a reality, the same vocabulary. But when they can see the cards, it creates an opening. And then the needs cards, I will admit, I did it with the guy that I'm seeing, and one of his needs was celebration. He’s like, “Yeah, because I always feel like we accomplished things, but we don't actually celebrate and take the time.” I’m like, “Okay.” So, the point is it opens up conversation, and helps people really get a sense of what am I feeling? And what do I need? One of mine is reassurance. I'm sorry, I might appear to be pretty competent, but I still need somebody to say, “You're okay. It's going to be okay.” So, that was one.

And then the other tool are values inquiry. You and I talked about this, like, what are your values? Program I use and then that these little cards that they can kind of pick through the values, or I have an online course I just recorded. There's like a list of core values to talk about them. And then each person can look at and say, “Okay. Well, these are my core values, and how do they intersect with my partner's core values?” Where are they the same? Where are they different? And then how do they connect with what we do, how we spend our time? And then how does that connect with how we spend our money?

One of the fun ones I did, this young couple, we started in 2021. Like I said they weren't engaged. They were living together. She wanted kids. They didn't know if they were getting married, blah, blah, blah, but we did the values exercise, right? And he had adventure. And she had like fitness and family. And he cared about family. But when we started talking, and she's talking about having kids, he's like, “Yeah, but if we have kids, then how are we going to go on all these trips?” And she's like, “Wait, I think adventure is important, too.” She's like, “We'll just take the kids with us, or if you want to go mountain climbing, you can go with your friend.” So, you need to connect your values with how you spend your time. And then of course, the next level is how you spend your money.

Karen Covy  28:12

Absolutely. I want to stop for a minute right here, because you mentioned something and I just want to point out the importance of her value was this, his was that, right? He wants the adventure, she wants the family, but she cares about adventure, too, right? But it's not about he's right and she's wrong, or she's right and he's wrong. The minute that the couple starts to judge the values of the other person, you're going in a whole different direction. So, do you address that in the program the idea of non judgement of just it's conversation, it's understanding where the other person is coming from, right?

Theresa Beran Kulat  28:56

Yeah. And what's really fun, and it's a different couple, that when we started talking about money and the values around money and saving and investing, going into the conversation, he was very much about making money, saving money, investing money, and she didn't really care. But it turns out, we did the program. And I touched base with them a couple months later. And the guy's like, “Oh, my God, it was like a transformation. Now, she's all about buying stocks and investing. And I don't think if I had told her she had to do it, she would have but by opening up to the conversation, she then heard why it was important to him, and then she could actually see how it would contribute to her, enriching her life.” So, it's kind of sneaky. It’s not like, “I'm going to hit you over the head and say you now have to agree with me,” because that's not going to happen. But by opening up, I think people do expand.

Karen Covy  30:19

It's interesting too, because all of these areas are so important and I agree with you 100%, especially before you get married, because getting married is a big commitment, right? And before you get married, you need to have the conversations or it helps to have these conversations, to know where the other person's coming from just to get a deeper understanding of each other. But if people are coming through this program, do they make written agreements with each other? Is it an enforceable contract? Like how does that work?

Theresa Beran Kulat  30:52

Okay, great question. Before I answer, I'm just going to say one thing. So, in the several couples that I work with, in some cases, they actually decided they weren't going to get married. Okay? In a couple of cases, actually, next end of this month, I'm going to the wedding of one of these couples, which is kind of fun. And then in another case, each of them saw that they wanted to be married, but there were certain things that they had to take care of before they were going to be ready. So, I'm just going to say that, okay? Then to answer your question, what I do ask them to do, and that's kind of like the end capstone activity is to write vows. The vow being, this is what I want to give to you, regardless of if you give me anything.

Karen Covy  31:52

Wait, we got to stop right here. Because most people get married, and they have all these ideas about what the other person is supposed to do for them. So, you have them write vows about what they're going to do?

Theresa Beran Kulat  32:09

Right. I mean, I'm guilty. Actually, if you know, Evita, there is a song in the musical and basically, it's like, romance is just a contract. I'm going to give to you, you give to me. There's no one on this planet who doesn't think about what they're going to get from the other person. And that's why, you know, if you know the musical, whatever. But the point here is a vow is, hey, this is what I'm committed to. This is what I want to give to you, regardless of what you give back to me, because there is joy in the giving. And so, then the other person is looking at, well, what do they want to give? Because it's over a period of time, they have each heard what the other person needs from them and they can decide. Okay. I will go to the ballet once a month or you know what I mean?

True story, I was married to a man who loves baseball. So, it was a season tickets for the Cubs, season tickets for this. And I could handle like, maybe two baseball games a month. But he could go 10 games a month, and that's fine. But the point is, it's my commitment to go to baseball games a month, whatever. And it's not about, ‘Well, I'll go to two baseball games if you go to the ballet,” because that's not helpful, right?

Karen Covy  33:37

That's bartering. It's a tit for tat. And ultimately, good solid relationships are never about that. If you're keeping score all the time, you had a problem before you even started.

Theresa Beran Kulat  33:54

Right. People don't know, because frankly, a lot of their parents lived in that framework. We could also expand into the whole women being property, and not having their own autonomy. Some people would say, and I would vaguely agree, if you swing too far into the extreme, where women are totally independent and they don't need men, then the men are like, “Why do you need me?” So, that's not helpful either. So, that's kind of the end.

I do actually have them write out their vows and say their vows to each other. If they are not yet married, then they could take the work that we've done, especially in terms of like the property and who's going to pay. Often they live together, and so we have conversations about: is the house going to be titled jointly or individually? I'm a lawyer so I can kind of explain the impact of those different things. We talked about, how are you going to allocate the expenses? How are you going to deal with repairs? So, we talked about it. And if there's kids, how are we going to take care of kids’ stuff? And so those financial things can be put into a prenup if they're not yet married.

I have one couple right now, and this is a little bit of info. So, if you give someone a prenup the week before the wedding, chances are it's not going to be good. So, there were some breakdowns and they got married. But now, we're doing Intentional Relationship Design in order to come up with a postnup. So, a postnuptial agreement is like a prenup, except it's entered into after the marriage. It clarifies. One of the parties has children from a prior marriage, so they want to set aside certain funds for that person. And so that can be an outcome, to answer your question.

Karen Covy  36:12

Theresa, this is absolutely fascinating. I think it's so important for couples. It sounds like you work with couples in all different stages. You can work with the couples in the beginning, before they're even married, to start talking about these issues, and to create the relationship that they both really want. Or if they're already married, and things are not working out, or maybe even they are working out, and they just want a deeper connection, this program would be good for any or all of those people.

This is fascinating. I want to commend you, because this is such important work. Lawyers get a bad rap sometimes. We're the ones that are destroying the family, destroying the relationship. And that's not everybody. I mean, obviously, there are some lawyers who are just in it for the money, but there are others like you who are really trying to make a difference in the relationship. And that's a very, very different thing.

Theresa Beran Kulat  37:17

Well, thank you for the acknowledgement. Yes, I do that and I do that. And I still do divorces, because there does need to be a place for people who don't want to destroy their relationships. What's interesting, I'll just say quickly in the divorce mediation sort of collaborative world, what is so cool about that work is people still get to have healthy relationships with their former spouse, several of them say, “Oh my god, we're getting along better now that we're divorced than we were when we were together.” And so, again, it's finding the values that they share. Often it's because they have children. And so, we create a foundation for co-parenting post-divorce that is incredibly healthy. So, I'm very proud of that, too.

Karen Covy  38:08

That's awesome. One last wrap up question because we've got to bring this to a close, even though I could talk to you forever. Just out of curiosity, because you know this podcast is all about making decisions. So, throwing you a curveball here, what's the best decision you ever made?

Theresa Beran Kulat  38:33

Oh, wow. Okay. It's going to sound strange, but when I was in high school, I had to pick a college. And my best friend and I went to Dutchies Restaurant on the south side and we were talking about creating the life that we wanted. And so first of all, I had a partner. She and I were both going to create what we wanted. And we were going to get good grades, we were going to have a lot of fun. We were going to have the room that everybody came to. And so, we decided she and I to go to John Carroll University in Cleveland, Ohio. And honestly, it made a huge difference in my life. I could talk about it forever. But I would say that's probably the best decision I've ever made.

Karen Covy  39:19

That’s awesome. And did you create the room that everybody wanted to go to?

Theresa Beran Kulat  39:23

Oh, my God, it was hysterical. Because that year, there's this huge dorm, all girl dorm, and they were overbooked. So, we had this special little room that was right across from the laundry room. We had like a deer head up on the wall, and it was the party room. So, yes, we did. We had the room that everybody came to. She and I actually and some friends created a sorority. It had been an all-male school and we had just recently had women, so.

Karen Covy  39:56

Wow. Okay. So, there's a lot to this intentional design of everything. It sounds like an intentional design of your life, but we cannot go down that rabbit hole right now. I just want to thank you for sharing your wisdom and your perspective, and all of this great information with our audience. So, before we go, can you tell people where they can find you?

Theresa Beran Kulat  40:19

Sure. So, if you are looking at divorce, my law firm is If you're more interested in like coaching or speaking, training, even Intentional Relationship Design, because technically it's not practicing law, my personal website is So that would be the best way to find me.

Karen Covy  40:44

Awesome. So, we will link to all of those places in the show notes so you don't have to worry. It has been a true pleasure having this conversation with you. Thank you so much for coming. And for everybody out there, if you liked what you heard, if you enjoyed this episode, please give us a thumbs up, subscribe to the podcast, subscribe to the YouTube channel. And I look forward to talking to you again next time.


divorce advice, marriage advice, marriage tips, off the fence podcast, prenuptial agreement

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