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Episode 141 - Divorce Support from Journey Beyond Divorce

Episode 141 - Divorce Support from Journey Beyond Divorce Image

09/20/2019 2:09 pm

What we love about the show is that it gives us the opportunity to share divorce resources with those that are struggling with divorce. This show is one of those great examples. Leh and Todd interview Karen McMahon, the Founder of Journey Beyond Divorce. Her organization provides divorce support that so many people need. This kind of support is not counseling, and it is not legal advice. For some, it is just the kind of support they need to heal, focus on the challenges in front of them, and learn how to adapt to a new normal. Tune in to hear Karen explain what they do and share their 12 Step Course, which is designed to lead folks to shift out of hurt and pain and navigate this and future difficulties with greater ease.


Leh Meriwether: Welcome, everyone. I'm Leh Meriwether, and with me is Todd Orston. Todd and I are partners at the law firm of Meriwether & Tharp, and you're listening to The Meriwether & Tharp Show. Here, you will learn about divorce, family law, tips on how to save your marriage if it's in the middle of a crisis, and from time to time, even tips on how to take your marriage to the next level. If you want to read more about us, you can always check us out online at


Todd Orston: Leh?

Leh Meriwether: You ready?

Todd Orston: Born ready. Is that too confident? I don't know. Did I oversell it?

Leh Meriwether: I think so.

Todd Orston: All right. All right. I'm ready.

Leh Meriwether: Okay. Fantastic.

Todd Orston: What are we talking about?

Leh Meriwether: We are ... Well, hopefully, we're not going to be doing too much talking today.

Todd Orston: Well, I always hope you're not going to do too much talking.

Leh Meriwether: Well, today we're going to ... You know, a lot of times we'll dive into the law, we'll use examples of people's questions to explain the law, family law, especially here in Georgia but sometimes other states, and then other times, we try to bring resources to the table to help folks that are struggling through the divorce process or a similar family law process, and recently, I had an opportunity to meet a group. The name of the group is Journey ... bil bah bah bah ...

Todd Orston: Yeah, really?

Leh Meriwether: Journey ... I need some [crosstalk 00:01:24].

Todd Orston: They should rethink that name.

Leh Meriwether: Journey Beyond Divorce, and they're actually a divorce coaching group. Not the same type of divorce coaching that we've talked about, because the divorce coaching we've talked about is more of a legal divorce coaching. This is something that goes beyond that. It's a different level, and I'm probably messing it up. So instead of me talking about, it we're going to have Karen McMahon, I'm sorry, I didn't have my glasses on. Sorry, Karen. We have Karen McMahon, founder of-

Todd Orston: Karen, I apologize on his behalf. My humblest apologies.

Leh Meriwether: Karen McMahon, founder of ... We already know I'm terrible when it comes to names. Founder of-

Todd Orston: He barely knows my name, Karen, so ...

Leh Meriwether: She is the founder of Journey Beyond Divorce. She is a relationship and divorce coach, and Karen's passion is to help men and women navigate the emotional difficulties of relationships, breakups, and divorce. She works to open up the possibility that one's current relationship challenges can actually lead to a rewarding voyage of self-discovery and an immensely more pleasing life experience.

Karen founded Journey Beyond Divorce in 2010, after discovering that the pain of dissolving her own marriage had been the very stimulus for her own personal transformation. During her three-and-a-half-year tumultuous divorce, Karen's life began to improve exponentially. With much hard work, she embraced her new life, created healthy friendships, found her true voice, and learned to set suitable boundaries and let go of what she could not control.

Karen is the mother of two emerging adults, a graduate of the world's leading coaching institute, Institute for Professional Excellence in Coaching, IPEC, and a certified member of the International Coaching Federation, ICF. Karen's other accomplishments include work as a New York lobbyist, health advocate, community organizer, and chairperson of a New York nonprofit organization. She's also director of sales and marketing and is a successful business owner. Karen, thanks so much for coming on the show.

Karen McMahon: Thanks for having me, Leh. And Todd.

Todd Orston: You are very welcome.

Leh Meriwether: And sorry for not having my glasses on earlier. All right, so let's start off with, tell me about Journey Beyond Divorce and how do you help clients navigating the divorce process?

Karen McMahon: Right. So Journey Beyond Divorce helps people in two different ways. No matter where you are in your divorce or how you got there, there's an emotional storm that comes along with it. It's just such a tremendous transition. And so we help people navigate the emotional storm of divorce, help them see where they're stuck, help them get clear on what they want and be able to navigate it with more ease. And then on the other hand, the logistics, we connect them with resources like yourself, we help them when they need an attorney or a financial planner, we help them understand what a preliminary conference is. We'll give them basic information and guide them toward the experts so that they're well-equipped and have a solid support team for going through the transition.

Leh Meriwether: Now Karen, I had actually mentioned to a few people before I came on the show that we were interviewing you and what the show was about and that I was sharing information with other folks in our firm, and the first reaction was, "Oh, do they do therapy?" But I understand what you're doing is different than therapy. Can you explain how your support is different than like the therapy you might get in a counseling session?

Karen McMahon: Absolutely, and it's a great question. It's one of the biggest questions we get. A lot of our clients, especially if they are struggling with a past that deals with abuse or if they have mental health issues with them or their spouse, they're seeing a therapist and they'll work with us, as well. So a therapist ... We're not mental health experts. Therapists are mental health experts. They help you to understand what's going on, how your triggers are developed, they work a lot in healing and in the past, whereas we really help people get from where they are to where they want to be. So we're not mental health experts. We are more strategic.

So someone might come to me and they're super angry and I'm going to help them to take a look at where their trigger is and how they're responding to that anger or reacting to that anger and how that might be damaging the very thing that they want, and then strategically help them to shift the way they engage in situations like that so that they're more effective. So when clients do hand in hand therapy and coaching, it's incredibly valuable and then sometimes, you have clients who they've been through therapy and they kind of know their story and they're still feeling stuck. They feel like they've healed, but they're still stuck. In those cases, coaching is really helpful because you're on a one-hour call, it's very interactive and strategic, and you have an action plan. So they feel like they're moving forward and no longer staying stuck, which is a huge benefit of coaching.

Todd Orston: Karen, what I love about this is that one of the biggest problems that we always talk about in these types of cases is the emotion, the anger, the anxiety, the fear. All of these emotions can actually interfere with our ability to successfully, right off the bat, successfully jump in and start helping our clients because unfortunately, they're caught up in the emotion, the other party's caught up in the emotion.

What I love about this program is it really sounds like there's a hyper-focus on relieving that anxiety, calming that fear, calming that anger, helping people start to really get back to thinking rationally so they can help themselves, whether that ultimately results in a divorce and separation or not. But it's really just helping alleviate those strong emotions that could really cause problems for people.

Karen McMahon: That's exactly it. Our goal is that you, as an individual going through divorce, that you go through it calm, clear, and confident, and that you're an effective partner with your attorney, because so often, you guys get a bad rap and all of that conflict energy is thrown at the attorney or fear energy is thrown at the attorney, and when we work with clients, we help them to see, "Well, wait a second. That's your trigger," and we'll get into this as we talk, but it's like, whatever your trigger is ... Imagine you have eyeglasses with a certain prescription, right? Your lens is altered because of your fear or your insecurity or your judgment, and so you're not reacting to what's real. You're reacting to your interpretation of what's happening, and so you're hamstringing yourself. Our clients learn to have a clear lens of what's real so that they're actually responding to what's happening, as opposed to their emotional interpretation of it.

Leh Meriwether: Now, the nice thing about being a coach is that you're not limited. Like for us as lawyers, we're limited to states that we're actually licensed to practice law in, but you're not. You could help people in all 50 states across the country.

Karen McMahon: Yeah, we actually like to say that we cover the English-speaking world. We've worked with people abroad, as well. So there are no limitations, and unlike a therapist who often wants to be face to face because what they do is they read the body language and everything else, I have super tuned in hearing. Sometimes we do video chat, but yeah, we can talk to people all over the country and support people wherever they're at.

The other thing is, I can be much more direct with a client than you might be able to be. I've had attorneys call me and say I'm working with one of their clients and they're like, "Look, the whole custody thing is going upside down because they're digging their heels in. Can you talk to them?" And then we can engage in a conversation about, "Okay, you don't want your spouse to see your kid at all. Great. Let's look at why that is. Let's look at how realistic that is. Let's look at how good that is for the kid," and because we're coming at it from a different angle, we can dislodge them from ... we can help them dislodge themselves is a better way of putting it, from a stuck position that's not serving them, that might be costing them a lot of time and money and that they can emerge from one single session more open and flexible to what's going to be beneficial to the whole family.

Leh Meriwether: Hey, up next, Karen, I want you to address to everyone what are the common issues that you see and help people when they're getting a divorce?

I just wanted to let you know that if you ever wanted to listen to the show live, you can listen to it at 1 a.m. on Monday mornings on WSB. So you can always check us out there, as well.

Todd Orston: Better than counting sheep, I guess. Right? It's a-

Leh Meriwether: That's right.

Todd Orston: You can turn on the show and we'll help you fall asleep.

Leh Meriwether: There you go.

Todd Orston: I'll talk very soft.

Leh Meriwether: Welcome back, everyone. I'm Leh Meriwether, and with me is Todd Orston. Todd and I are partners at the law firm of Meriwether & Tharp, and you're listening to and you're listening to The Meriwether & Tharp Show. If you want to read more about us, you can always check us out online at

Well today, thankfully, you're not going to hear too much from Todd, because we have with us Karen McMahon, founder of Journey Beyond Divorce, and she is a relationship and divorce coach and she has a group of people that work with her in this organization to help folks get through a divorce. In the last segment, we learned how what she does is beyond therapy. It's not ... Therapy is focusing on the emotional component in the past, and if it's okay, let me know if I'm phrasing this right, Karen, but you focus really on the present, like how do you focus on the present and what you're going through, if you're the one going through the divorce, and how do you get through this so you come out the other side arguably a better person because you've learned through the process?

Karen McMahon: That's very well ... That's it. That's it in a nutshell.

Leh Meriwether: Woo, I got it right.

Todd Orston: Lucky.

Karen McMahon: Yeah.

Leh Meriwether: Well, where we left off was, the question I threw out there that we didn't have time to answer in the last segment was, what are the most common issues that you see for folks from your perspective that are navigating through the divorce process? What are the most common things that they struggle with? I'm really curious to hear how you answer that, because we know what we see as lawyers, but you're seeing it from a different perspective and beyond just the boundaries of the state of Georgia and Florida, where we practice.

Karen McMahon: Right. So we sat down, after a couple of years of doing this and put together a list of what are the common pitfalls, what are the common emotional struggles that kind of cross the borders of all of our clients, and we came up with actually 12 and created a 12-step divorce recovery series to support people in these areas. So we can just talk about a few of them.

The first one, and the reason that it's the first one, is about conflict. Everyone, regardless of how high or low conflict your divorce is, they struggle with getting caught up in the arguments and the anger, and so our first step is actually called Curb the Conflict. What we talk to our clients about is starting to notice how they behave, and starting to notice their spouse, but more how they behave, how quickly they react, how they interpret things, and to create some space to give a little space between when you're triggered and when you react.

When you create that space, you're less likely to emotionally react where what comes out of your mouth completely bypasses your brain and then you regret it or it creates more problem, and that space allows you to actually think about, be more thoughtful about, how you want to respond and in doing so, you begin to minimize the conflict instead of increase it. So that's the huge one that I think everyone across the board can benefit from.

Todd Orston: You know, I think everyone can benefit from that kind of advice-

Leh Meriwether: Especially Todd.

Todd Orston: Especially me. Definitely sometimes me, too.

Leh Meriwether: I'm just kidding.

Todd Orston: No, but jokes aside, we even tell our attorneys that when they're communicating with, let's say, a contentious opposing counsel, step away from the communication. Step away from your keyboard. Don't just react and write and say something that could create additional problems. So put some distance between yourself and whatever the issue is so that you can have a clear head and approach the problem in a calm way that won't create more problems than solve.

Leh Meriwether: And I just want to say something about Todd. I was totally kidding earlier, because Todd and I first met years and years ago, 10-plus years ago, 12?

Todd Orston: Oh, that's right. When I really beat up on you in court that time.

Leh Meriwether: We never made it to court because we settled.

Todd Orston: Right, if I'm going to tell a story, I might as well be the winner.

Leh Meriwether: Well, the divorce involved a lot of tension. There was a severe ... He was representing someone that had been severely violent to our client. It was a bad ... I mean, we're talking about there was visual bruises and cuts, it was ... The case started off bad. Obviously, our client had a lot of anger, justifiably so, because of what he had done, and he was just a naturally angry person to begin with. But Todd and I were able to put aside those emotions and work on a fair settlement agreement in light of all the circumstances, so-

Todd Orston: And it's easier for us. I mean, clients ... To me, the more powerful part of that story is the fact that you were able to control your client, because we've both seen situations where someone is coming out of a relationship like that and they are so caught up in the emotion, they are just finding their power. Right? They were powerless in a relationship and then they come out and all they want to do is lash out, because they're like, "I'm free, and I'm not going to let you do this to me anymore." Controlling the clients who are going through that situation and dealing with that immense emotional whatever, the emotion, that's where it's really tricky and it sounds like that's really what you're focused on, helping people get through and avoid those emotional traps.

Leh Meriwether: And Karen, I'm going to ... I know you've this in the material elsewhere and I can't remember where it is, so if I'm jumping ahead, I apologize, but just right in this moment, I feel like this is a great time to ask this question or bring this point up. I noticed in your material, you had something in there where you work with the client to ask if the attorney, their attorney is being too aggressive, and-

Todd Orston: Right.

Leh Meriwether: ... I don't know if it was under Curb the Conflict or one of the other 12 steps, but it just seemed like ... I read that and I was like, "That's great," because we talk about people wanting the bulldog, which often makes the whole case worse.

Karen McMahon: Yeah, and if I could speak to that, a lot of times, especially if and more often with women, if you're in a relationship where you feel your spouse is a big personality that has overtaken, maybe bullied, you feel like you've been controlled, what you want to do is you want to go out and hire a bully. The problem with that is number one, if you hire that kind of an aggressive attorney, he or she is going to be equally as aggressive toward you as toward your spouse, and it's going to delay and extend and be a more expensive divorce.

So what we often talk to our clients about is hiring an attorney is often the very first relationship that you're engaging in after being married and heading towards your divorce, and you want to do that very consciously and you want to make sure that that person hears you, responds to you, explains things to you. You want to feel ... You want to experience your relationship with that attorney very different than you experienced your relationship with the spouse that you're leaving or that you're divorcing.

Todd Orston: And Karen, you know the funny thing is, we were planning on doing almost that exact same show next week, and I think you just made it unnecessary. I think we just, we hit all the points, so this is like a twofer. We have two shows for the price of one. No, but seriously, we're doing a show and we're going to be talking about some of those issues when you're hiring an attorney, working with your attorney, and we've been saying this for years, and this is not to say Leh is perfect, by far, or I'm perfect, but jokes aside, you need to focus on goals. You can't get caught up in the emotion, and the problem is too many people start the process caught up in the emotional trap and having someone like you and your program there to help people work through and get through the emotional landmines where they can start focusing on the issues and their goals, I've got to tell you, that is immensely powerful

Karen McMahon: Yeah, and what happens, when you're drowning in emotion, and let's say your emotion is either going to be fear-based or conflict-based emotion, you're in an emotional fog. It's like you can't see two feet in front of you. You are not going to make all of these very important, significant, long-term decisions that you have to make through the divorce process, you're not going to be able to make them effectively while in that emotional fog. And so our job, our goal, is to help people step out of that, rise above that, and in order to do that, they need to understand where they're triggered, where these emotions are coming from, and to be able to, like I said, step one, create that space so that they can think clearly.

Otherwise, and then they're on the phone with you, right? How many times have you sent out a bill and the client's so angry because nothing's been done, but it's thousands of dollars and it's like well, you spent all of this time on the phone complaining about a situation or your spouse, not well spent, emotionally triggered, and so clients who work with us, we're like, "Use the attorney for legal strategy, and otherwise, work with us to kind of calm those emotions and get clear on what you want so you're moving closer to it, rather than further away."

Leh Meriwether: You know, we actually had a show not too long ago discussing that very thing, about trying to move past the emotion, use your ... It was all about how to actually use your lawyer efficiently and cost effectively and focus in on the core things, come with an agenda, leave out of it "Tear apart my spouse" but focus on, "How do I get from A to B and be able to move on with my life in a way that doesn't leave me penniless or with no college education fund for my children?"

Hey, and up next, we're going to continue to talk with Karen about her significant 12-step discovery recovery series and all the different things that she does and her group does to help folks get through the divorce process.

Todd Orston: Hey everyone, you're listening to our podcast, but you have alternatives. You have choices. You can listen to us live also 1 a.m. on Monday morning on WSB.

Leh Meriwether: If you're enjoying the show, we would love it if you could go rate us in iTunes or wherever you may be listening to it. Give us a five-star rating and tell us why you like the show.

Welcome back, you're with Leh and Todd on The Meriwether & Tharp Show, and I am cutting the intro because we are getting to it, there's lots of information to cover. Today we have with us Karen McMahon. She is the founder of Journey Beyond Divorce. She's a relationship and divorce coach, and she and her group have put together this 12-step divorce recovery series. We're not going to get a chance to get to all of them, but can you list out those 12 steps that we keep talking about real quick?

Karen McMahon: Yeah, and I just want to mention that the 12-step series is actually a podcast series and Journey Beyond Divorce is the name of the podcast. So anyone who is interested can look us up on any podcast platform, Journey Beyond Divorce, and go into the 12 steps. So very quickly, step one we mentioned is Curb the Conflict. Step two is Heal the Hurt, which is a really critical one. Step three is Calming the Chaos, and even though the chaos seems external, it's actually about the chaos between your ears and the impact that will have. Step four is called Seek Solutions, because it's so sticky, the problem and being problem-oriented. It talks about how to shift to solution-oriented.

Step five is Growing Through Grief. Step six is Escape the Battle, and the battle, the foundation of the battle is judgment, so that's a really key one. Step seven is Rekindle Confidence, and that, again, talks about the stories we create and how that cuts us off at the knees. Step eight is Practicing Presence, we're fretting the past and worrying the future, and our power is in the present, so that's a very empowering one.

Step nine is Overcoming Pain, which we're going to talk a little bit more about, which is about acceptance, and then very much like the 12-step programs we know about, 10, 11, and 12 are the steps you live into on a regular basis, Accelerate Trust, which is about your intuition, Embrace the Unpredictable, which gets you out of, "I can't believe this is happening," and expecting the unexpected, and step 12 is Living Purposefully, and it's about setting intentions and surrendering the outcome and just kind of going for the ride.

Leh Meriwether: Awesome. So we're going to, I know there are some that are more ... They're all important, but there's some that I know that when we were off air, you had mentioned that you really wanted to get into. But they can find out more by A, listening to your podcast, Journey Beyond Divorce, and if they wanted to hire you, what's the best way for them to reach out to you, Karen, and find more about how to hire you to help them get through the divorce?

Karen McMahon: Yeah, our website is, and right on the homepage are a couple of different buttons that you can click on and you can actually just schedule a call with us. You can click right at the top of our homepage. So that's J-B-D, as in Journey Beyond Divorce,

Leh Meriwether: Awesome. All right, well let's go back, because I know we had started off talking about curbing the conflict of the divorce. But I know one of the important ones to you is Heal the Hurt of divorce. Can you talk about that?

Karen McMahon: Yeah, and step two is Heal the Hurt, step five is Grow Through Grief. Those are two programs that really talk about the emotional pain, and what happens, there is such a high second and third marriage divorce rate, actually with each marriage, it goes up. My belief and what I've read is the reason the divorce rate increases is because so many people who get divorced think that they've left the problem behind, which is their spouse, but they bring all of that emotional baggage into the next relationship. You go through the honeymoon stage, you rinse and repeat, and there you are at whatever year, seven to 10, going through your second divorce.

Heal the Hurt is about feeling the pain of divorce and processing it, whether it's writing or speaking, therapy, coaching, and actually releasing it so that you can be healthier, and not just in your intimate relationship, but your relationship with your kids, your coworkers, and both step two and then even more with the grief, step five, walk you through tips and strategies for how to do that and do it effectively so that you're going forward with a clean heart.

Leh Meriwether: All right, so and then you've got Calm the Chaos.

Karen McMahon: Yeah, and Calm the Chaos is, a lot of what we talk to our clients about. I think the best way that I could explain this is, when we get hurt, when we're hurt in, let's say in relationship, if I'm hurt or triggered, it has to be the other person's fault, and so we look externally and we blame externally and it's like, "Okay, well maybe I need to get rid of that person. Maybe I need to tell that person to change," when in fact, the gift is in the trigger.

So Calm the Chaos has us looking at, "What is my inner critic and how does that cut me off at the knees? What are the assumptions and interpretations that I have when people show up in my life that cause me to be reactive, that poke at my tender underbelly? What are the limiting beliefs that I grew up with that don't serve me, that actually cause me to be reactive?"

And so calming the chaos is about calming the chaos, understanding what's happening in the stories between your ears and when you do that and you calm that, much like creating that space, you respond differently because you start noticing what part is yours to work on and heal and refine before you engage with the other part. Does that make sense?

Todd Orston: Yeah, it's a return to rational thought versus emotional thought, right? I mean, being driven ... I know when I've worked with clients or we've had an opposing party and you can tell, they are just so caught up in the emotion. I've walked into mediations and I'm sticking my hand out just to shake a hand and say, "Hi, my name's Todd," and they won't look at me, they won't shake a hand. They are starting that process so angry, and as soon as that happens, I know. I know what we're dealing with and it's going to be much harder to reach an agreement. Whether it's reasonable or not, meaning the terms, the settlement terms, it's so much harder, because we have to break through those barriers just to get to a point where they can stop thinking of things in an emotional kind of way.

Karen McMahon: Exactly, it's that emotional fog again, and step three is about not only finding your way back to your rational thinking, but it really talks to people about what is happening and when someone understands, "Oh my goodness. I am interpreting it that way." I had a client who called me and she's like, "I have to fire my attorney. She is so aggressive and she's going to take me to court," and I remember saying, "Okay, let's slow this down," and two things. One is, she was so meek in her marriage that whatever the boilerplate letter that you guys send out just saying, "Hey, I've been retained," she saw that as this aggressive affront toward her [inaudible 00:30:30] and then ... That was an interpretation, and then her other interpretation was, "If I have to go to court and listen to this," because you could laugh, but it was so real for her, "they're going to take me away in handcuffs." She literally, in her mind, connected court with like breaking the law and getting in trouble, and she was so frightened to go to court for a preliminary conference.

And so when we help people understand, "Well, where's that interpretation coming from? Where's that fear coming from?" and they can see clearly, they can see more rationally, then they can engage with an attorney or a financial planner or whomever in a much more effective manner.

Leh Meriwether: And I know there's more important ... I mean, not more important, there's more additional important things we're going to go through, but I want to stop here just because we've seen cases where the client is not getting a good deal, and we're trying to say, "Look, we're not trying to drive things up, but in three, four years, you're not going to be in a good place, because you're not getting what you need and I mean, I hate to say what you deserve, but in some respects, what you deserve for raising five kids in a 25-year marriage, and you're walking away from these things and you don't ..." and like you said, they were meek during their marriage and now they are just terrified of going to court and a lot of times, the other side will back down if you actually stand up to them.

So if you're listening right now and you are struggling with that like, "Oh, I don't know. I just want this over with," call Karen, because you could be doing yourself a huge disservice, especially if you've given up a career to raise a family and then your husband has, or it could be wife, but the other spouse has put themselves in a very good position in their career and their likelihood of success beyond this marriage, at least from a financial position, is very good, well, don't ...

Todd Orston: You don't want to ... Well, it goes both ways. You don't want to shortchange yourself, but you also don't want to take unreasonable, harsh positions. So no matter what, you don't want to be driven by emotion, and if Karen can help you, please, make that phone call. As an attorney, we want you to enter into this process calm, collected, and ready to apply rational thought.

Leh Meriwether: Hey Karen, when we come back, I want us to talk about step four and a couple other steps, but step four, where it's all about seeing solutions. I love that, because we're very resolution-focused at Meriwether & Tharp, and I want us to dive into that in the next segment. We'll be right back.

I just wanted to let you know that if you ever wanted to listen to the show live, you can listen to it at 1 a.m. on Monday mornings on WSB. So you can always check us out there, as well.

Todd Orston: Better than counting sheep, I guess. Right? It's a-

Leh Meriwether: That's right.

Todd Orston: You can turn on the show and we'll help you fall asleep.

Leh Meriwether: There you go.

Todd Orston: I'll talk very soft.

Leh Meriwether: Welcome back, everyone. I'm Leh Meriwether, and with me is Todd Orston. Todd and I are partners at the law firm of Meriwether & Tharp, and you're listening to and you're listening to The Meriwether & Tharp Show. If you want to read more about us, you can always check us out online at

But today, I don't want you to necessarily listen to us or read about us, I want you to know more about Karen McMahon. She is the founder of Journey Beyond Divorce, and she has come on to talk about how she and her organization are helping folks get through the divorce process, working with lawyers, they're relationship and divorce coaches and they're there to help you focus on the present, so you don't get caught up in the emotion of what's going on and work towards a good outcome in your divorce and perhaps put you in a place where you're actually a better person after the divorce, as crazy as that might sound. Well Karen, thanks so much for not running away after that last segment.

Karen McMahon: Thank you.

Leh Meriwether: Well, we left off with seeking solutions during a divorce. We didn't get to it, but this is something that is near and dear to us at Meriwether & Tharp. We are very resolution-focused, we try to ... not that we're afraid of the courtroom at all, but we would rather look towards solving ... sometimes we look at divorces as a puzzle to solve. I mean, they're people, I'm not saying that people are puzzles, but what's going on in their future, we try to focus on solutions, and so when I read this as part of your 12-step process, I loved seeing that.

Karen McMahon: Yeah, and the thing is, the problems that we facing going through divorce, and I had a three-and-a-half-year, really difficult divorce, my kids were barely in grade school, and so the problems are so noisy and sticky and we're so emotionally triggered and reactive, that our clients tend to focus on the problem. Even as I'm coaching someone, it's like, "Okay, we're clear on the problem. Let's get to the solution." Two seconds later, they're back to the problem. And so going through the divorce process, as you guys know, there's so much that's not in a client's control: the courts, the schedule, the spouse's reaction.

But the one thing that is in our control as a client is what we choose to focus on, and so step four is about don't be problem-oriented. Be clear on whatever the problem is, whether it's an immediate thing or a legal part that you're working on, and then totally put your energy and your focus in the solution. What are my options? How do I figure out which is the best option? What information do I need from my attorney? What am I triggered by that I need to work through? Whatever it is, and when you can continually bring your attention to the solution, be solution-oriented, you will feel more empowered, you will be more effective, and you will be a much more cooperative partner with your attorney.

Todd Orston: You know, the reason that's powerful and is resonating with me is that when I see a client who is so caught up in the emotion, the way you're putting it there, you're 100% right. I think what the problem really is, they're not truly seeking a solution.

Leh Meriwether: Oh, yeah.

Todd Orston: I mean, when I've seen the problems come up, it's usually because there's an emotional blockage, which means they have lost focus on what their goal should be in that settlement conversation, and that is, "What is the solution here? What is my goal? What am I trying to accomplish?" They're just caught up in the fight.

Karen McMahon: And one of the things that me and my team often will ask our client when they're caught up in the fight is, "Okay, is what you're doing right now or how you're thinking right now, is it moving you closer to what you want or further away?"

Leh Meriwether: Right. That's right.

Karen McMahon: And it's pretty quick for them to go, "Wow. Yeah, no, I'm pouring fuel on the fire. I guess it's not bringing me closer." And so, so often, again, when there's that emotional fog, our job is to help our clients raise their level of consciousness. When you're conscious about what you're doing and why you're doing it and if it's serving you, that's the moment that you're in a place to change. When you're just emotionally reactive, you're not conscious, you're just reacting. That's why they call it blind anger, blind rage. And so our job is bring you, help you to get to that place of clarity and consciousness. Then you can focus on the solution.

Leh Meriwether: Yeah, and one of your focuses, and we're not going to talk about that, I just want to hit it real quick, is escaping the battle, because we do see clients will cycle on things and so they get caught where they are, going over and over and over again with a, I wouldn't say a problem, but with their emotion, instead of focusing on those solutions that allow them to move forward.

All right, so let's, before we run out of time, let's talk about number nine, overcoming pain.

Karen McMahon: Yeah. This is one of my favorites, and one of the reasons it's further on in the program, it's actually, we talk to people about the difference between resistance and acceptance. A perfect example is, I'll have a client say to me, "I can't believe she showed up late to pick up the kids again," and I'll be like, "Okay. Has she ever shown up late before?" "Yeah, for the last 20 years!" And you can't believe it why? And it's a perfect example of resistance. Or "I can't believe he spent so much money," or whatever, and they immediately know, it's like, "No, my spouse has been that way for as long as I've known him or her." Okay, so I want you to notice that you're in resistance of how that individual behaves, and step six, which we're not going to talk about, is, you're also in a lot of judgment around it, and those two things aren't going to serve you.

Step nine is inviting people into acceptance. Now, I'm not saying to accept unacceptable behavior. If you've been in an abusive relationship, you want to accept that you've been in an abusive relationship. You don't want to explain it away, you don't want to be like, "I just did something wrong," or "He just or she just had a bad day." You want to accept that it is what it is. Once you accept what is, "I'm going through a difficult divorce. I've got teenagers who are upset, and I have to handle that," whatever it is, then you will see more options and choices to address what is.

When we're in resistance, it's like we've got our foot on the gas pedal and the brake at the same time and we're just spinning and going nowhere, and how do you feel? You feel powerless. Again, you're once more frustrated that things are out of your control. Throughout the 12 steps, one of the key things we talk about is, you are powerful if you focus on yourself. There's so much power that you have through this process. However, if you're going to be in resistance and focus on the other person, you will feel powerless, and that's not going to serve you.

Leh Meriwether: I love that analogy of putting one foot on the gas and one foot on the brake, partly because I use that analogy all the time, and the point that I try to make to clients is, sometimes they just want to force things. They want to force things to move faster or do more things and it's coming out of that cycle of hurt and not overcoming their pain, and so but the divorce process moves at its own rate, and so I'm like, "Okay, I can do that, but it's like having your left foot on the brake and right foot on the gas, and all you're going to do is spend a lot of money and not go anywhere."

Todd Orston: I can tell you the last time I drove with my son, who's just learning, he did that. I can vouch, it does not work.

Karen McMahon: And resistance, that resistance part creates so much friction internally and with your soon-to-be ex, and often, between you and your attorney, and it's like, all of that resistance gets you noplace. And so really, step nine is such a gateway into having choices, feeling empowered, and beginning to take control of what you can control. So it's very, very powerful.

Leh Meriwether: I'm glad you said that it can create conflict with your own lawyer, because most good family law lawyers, beyond just our firm, but most good family law lawyers, they're looking for solutions, and sometimes they're pushing against the client going, "No, no. We need to move beyond that," and then they get upset with them because they're not in that same pain that they are, and they're actually trying to pull them out of the pain but sometimes, like Todd said, they don't want to be out of the pain. They want to be stuck there.

But hey, we're almost out of time. We have about a minute 40 seconds left, and I didn't want you to leave without telling everyone how they can reach out to you one more time.

Karen McMahon: Okay, great. So there's a couple of different things. A new offer we have is a completely free coaching call. If you're listening and this is resonating with you and you feel like you need some support, go to, and you'll just get my schedule and you can just book in a call with me and you get a full coaching call on the house.

If you want to see more about our offerings, you can go to and find out some of the other resources and a huge library of articles that we have. And if you're a podcaster, please find us at Journey Beyond Divorce podcast. We're on iTunes, Stitcher, Spotify, TuneIn radio, iHeart, the whole realm of them. So tune in and listen to the 12 steps. You'll find it'll make a big difference.

Leh Meriwether: And let me just follow up with what you just said. Wherever you are, wherever you're listening to this, whatever state you're in, if you're struggling, you're having trouble with your lawyer, try this: You'll get a free call, a free coaching session, and who knows? It may help you move beyond your divorce and move into a better place in life, as strange as that may sound where you are right now. And thanks, Karen, for coming on the show. We really appreciate you being here.

Karen McMahon: Thanks for having me. It's been a pleasure.

Leh Meriwether: Thanks so much for listening. Tune in next week. We're going to talk about the six signs that you should be looking for when it's time to get a different lawyer.