What influences relationship choices on a subconscious level and how can they lead to divorce? In this episode of the Modern Divorce Podcast, Host Billie Tarascio talks with relationship sleuth and divorce coach Johanna Lynn of the Family Imprint Institute who specializes in finding and resolving emotional and relationship patterns that can lead to breakups.
Johanna was influenced by Brazilian colleagues who use a systemic approach to resolving conflict, even if it means moving forward without reconciliation. It's a novel way of finding - and fixing - the underlying reasons leading to a divorce by looking at the couples' family relationships and patterns that have helped build their approach to family and marriage.
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Hello, and welcome to another episode of the Modern Divorce podcast.
I am your host, Billie Tarascio, the owner of Modern Law family law attorney in Phoenix, Arizona. And today we are joined by my new friend, guest, Joanna Lynn. Joanna, welcome to the show.
[00:00:56] Johanna Lynn: Thanks, Billie. Great to be here.
[00:00:57] Billie Tarascio: Yeah. So you and I were just [00:01:00] chatting about your recent, uh, relocation from Canada to Mexico, and you were living in Mexico full-time now.
[00:01:07] Johanna Lynn: That's right.
[00:01:08] Billie Tarascio: So cool. Such a radical choice and
[00:01:11] Johanna Lynn: yeah, it's been fun.
[00:01:13] Billie Tarascio: And, and so, and your practice, your counseling practice is entirely remote and focused on, um, is it divorcing couples? Couples trying to prevent Divorce or people post-divorce?
[00:01:27] Johanna Lynn: It's a bit of a mix. To be honest. My approach is very different from most people in the Divorce sphere because I'm looking at the why of it.
You know, none of us get to be the way we are by accident. Our love imprints how we love, even how we separate. Comes from our family of origin and a lot of times we're such in a raw and vulnerable state. We don't have a lot of time to look at that. But if we don't look at that piece, we can sadly end up repeating it in our next partner.
Or the Divorce process itself can be [00:02:00] so much more painful because we can't see some of the sticky points, some of the parts of frustration for what they really are, uh, repeat of painful patterns from the past.
[00:02:11] Billie Tarascio: Absolutely. Absolutely. One of the things I ask people in, in Divorce consultations is, um, what are things like when you fight?
Because, because whatever that pattern is, however, whatever that is, that's just gonna 10 x while we go through your Divorce, so Absolutely. Um, I mean, you could just kind of count on it. So you are, you are able
to break that. Yeah, so I work with people from a systemic perspective, so that simply means I look at the couple and whether I have one participating, you know, part of the couple or both there, I'm taking a three generation genogram because even if you're spouse won't participate, you certainly know a lot about the in-laws, or many call them the outlaws because there's so many issues and problems.
But really this work [00:03:00] counts on the facts of the family. So, Did my ex or my Soon-to-be ex did his partners separate. Did they fight all the time? Did they stonewall? Did they withdraw? We're looking for relating patterns in how they continue. We're kind of looking to get a bird's eye view. It's like we wanna take a hundred steps back and see this whole thing from a larger context so that we bring in more understanding.
It's been so cool, Billie, that I have some colleagues in Brazil. One is a judge and one is a lawyer, and they've started to bring this systemic perspective. I didn't realize this, but there's years long waiting list in Brazil for couples that want to Divorce, and so they've started applying this sort of experiential process to people kind of in the waiting line and when they've had both participating.
They've come to a hundred percent resolution. There's sort of this understanding of, oh, so that's why we get stuck here. Or, oh, that's why you know you're this way [00:04:00] with the kids. It doesn't mean they're reconciled. It doesn't mean it's all, you know, running off into the sunset with, with love in their eyes, but it's resolution.
It can be amicable separation, it can be this sense of. I get it. I can be complete with it. And now I'm sure you're aware, sometimes you only get to work with half the couple because the other side is just not open and willing to come to the table. And so they worked with half the couple and got about 90% resolution.
So there's a lot that can happen, even if one side is only, you know, willing to do the work, which has been really neat to see it apply in legal settings where I've only worked at it really from a therapeutic perspective all these years.
That is so interesting.
[00:04:45] Johanna Lynn: Mm-hmm.
[00:04:46] Billie Tarascio: Um, one of the things that I experienced as somebody going through Divorce and that I tell a lot of my clients is, um, That [00:05:00] EMDR was very effective for me in breaking the pattern of getting kind of triggered and, and showing up how, in a way that I didn't wanna show up.
Like, yeah, I wanted to be this dispassionate in control objective, like not. Pick up where, you know, we had left off in fights that had happened a gazillion times and I could really only get there through, um, EMDR (eye movement desensitization and reprocessing). But what I hear you saying is that there is this other therapy, um, that is more talk therapy that can do the same thing.
[00:05:33] Johanna Lynn: Well, I would say this work is much more experiential.
[00:05:36] Billie Tarascio: Okay.
[00:05:36] Johanna Lynn: Cause health therapy helps us maybe get a cognitive understanding and that helps us so far. Mm-hmm. But you're right. When the rubber meets the road, when we're triggered, when we're separating assets and talking about custody, I mean those are some pretty heavy pieces.
We go back to that reactionary state. And so unless we have work that includes the body mm-hmm. That includes where a lot of the sort of body memory of her. Hurt or harm that [00:06:00] happened in the marriage or even back in our family of origin, do we really get to have that change? So, like you said, I wanted to be calm and you know, in control and able to respond from a, that place of thinking things through and not reactionary.
This is how we get that change with the experiential approach so that the change happens in the body where it sticks. Yeah. Not just in the mind where we think, okay, I wanna show up this way, and we're kind of holding ourself still.
[00:06:31] Billie Tarascio: Yeah. Okay. All right. So it is a uh uh, okay, that makes sense. So you really do have to incorporate like your whole body in order to rewire this thing. Um, okay. So the other question I have is I've heard of therapists that do family systems based therapy. Is that the same or different from what
you're talking about?
[00:06:52] Johanna Lynn: So a lot of people have different names for things. So there's internal family systems I believe it's called, which looks at [00:07:00] the different parts.
So the part of me that's still angry and the part of me that still loves you and the part of me that wants to be a great mom and not a impatient mom, as an example, this looks at us inside the context of our family system. So the idea that chromosomally biologically, I'm half my mom and I'm half my dad, and this informs how I show up in my marriage.
How I parent and even how I navigate separation. So for example, if I, I don't know, my parents divorced when I was 12 and I never really saw my dad again. A lot of what I'm going to project onto my partner is the things that I didn't get enough of from my dad. If now that dad is missing and mom kind of leans on me emotionally, I'm gonna be quick to feel pretty inundated in my marriage.
So unless we bring in the whole context of. What happened? What did I see modeled in my parents' marriage? How did things really [00:08:00] go for them? Do we really sort of solve the mystery of why things broke apart the way they did? Why we're at each other and pushing each other's buttons? Cuz sometimes Divorce can be anything but amicable and we kind of wanna understand the why of it before we can actually get a trajectory for change
that's gonna stick.
[00:08:22] Billie Tarascio: Very cool.
Very cool. So you are in Mexico with your family now. You also came to this, um, area of practice through your own personal experience. Do you mind sharing
[00:08:35] Johanna Lynn: Yeah. Happy to. Uh, so we were in a. Well together, almost 10 years and married for five. And the big surprise about the affair was revealed.
And when I'm thinking back on it, it's almost like I wanted to write her a thank you card that I needed some sort of reason, big reason why this could not be canceled through, figured out. [00:09:00] There were so many unhealthy dynamics that that was almost the. Go ahead, the green light to say, Nope, that that's a deal breaker.
And certainly I've had clients and even friends that get over affairs. Not that they all have to end that way, but for me it was the finish line. And so I would tell you it's the most painful time of my life and the most that I learned about myself. It was such a reorganizing few years of grief and rebuilding and really I found this work at the perfect time.
I was trying to understand, you know, what was going on, that I was in such a healthy relationship, why was it familiar? And luckily I came across my most influential teacher sort of at that really rich time of rediscovering myself. And so it not only helped to kind of put me back together in a way that made sense and have me forge more healthy relationships, but now it's the passion of my work [00:10:00] and really what I get to bring to my clients with a whole lot of empathy, cuz I know how raw and vulnerable and intense that time can be post-divorce or even as you're trying to figure out, you know, I kind of call it the messy middle.
Am I staying? Can we work this out? You know? And sometimes there doesn't have to be the grand decision that that breaks something, but it's more of that internal decision that this love isn't friendly to me, this doesn't feel healthy. This shouldn't feel like a rollercoaster ride. Where is that consistency and, and soft place to land that we all are kind of looking for?
You know, life's hard enough without going home and having the relationship feel really hard. Right.
[00:10:42] Billie Tarascio: Right. So you are now, um, are you remarried?
[00:10:46] Johanna Lynn: Yes. I, uh, we're in a very stable relationship for, I think we just celebrated 16 years.
[00:10:52] Billie Tarascio: Wow. And you, um, so you and your husband and your Yeah. Um, daughter
[00:10:58] Johanna Lynn: our son is 14.
[00:10:59] Billie Tarascio: Oh, your son? Yeah.
[00:11:00] Okay. Are living. Uh, and tell me again where you all are living.
[00:11:03] Johanna Lynn: We're in
San Miguel de Allende, so we're in the mountains of Mexico, just, uh, south of Mexico City.
[00:11:10] Billie Tarascio: Okay, so how does a family from Canada decide to relocate internationally to
a village in Mexico?
[00:11:19] Johanna Lynn: Wow. Well, I really couldn't get my head around winter and every year it got harder and harder and similar.
Our sun was the same. It was like we'd try sledding, we'd try skiing. All the snowshoeing fun, and it just felt cold and not fun. So, Yeah, and we got tired of waiting half the year for the good weather to come back, right. To come outta hibernation. Um, I've had many friends who've, you know, moved their kids to international schools and so it really sparked an inspiration of what's possible and we thought, how else could we do this?
Of course we vacationed to Mexico many times. We love the warmth and the culture and the people, and so we spent a year [00:12:00] moving from different communities in different areas, sort of a short list of where we thought we'd like to be, and we settled on this beautiful artsy little town.
[00:12:09] Billie Tarascio: What an adventure.
[00:12:11] Johanna Lynn: Mm-hmm. True.
[00:12:12] Billie Tarascio: How wonderful. Okay, so how do you work with your clients?
[00:12:17] Johanna Lynn: Yeah, so we get together online and I start by taking a three generation genogram. So I start by asking the facts of the family. I get curious about where did love stop flowing? What complexities might you hold with your mom, with your dad, that your parents might hold with the grandparents, or really looking across three generations to find patterns and themes to make sense of why you're stuck today. So sometimes that can mean I have a really hard time getting over the breakup and that has its roots a lot of the times in our childhood. Or quick to separate, quick to close off our heart and we wall it off, but. Of course, that's just the other end of the [00:13:00] spectrum and not so healthy either.
So we're really looking at each individual from the larger context of who they are to provide solutions for today. So I think what people really like is that we work together in a much shorter span. It's not like typical therapy where it's over years. I might work with my couples three to six times until we really come to a place of resolution.
I'm really a big proponent on giving resources and sort of things to work on at home, and so that they're really putting those positive changes forward in their own life.
[00:13:36] Billie Tarascio: Okay, so then you're beginning your therapy with a goal. Yes. The goal is like figure out and identify the patterns. Yeah. And then figure out how those patterns are impacting your current relationship.
[00:13:51] Johanna Lynn: Mm-hmm.
[00:13:52] Billie Tarascio: And then you're challenging them to make, make a different choice.
[00:13:56] Johanna Lynn: That's it. With a lot of practices, I, I sort of lean a [00:14:00] lot into attachment sciences, into neuroscience with really, truly how we get to be the way we are and how to work with change that sticks. Mm-hmm. How do we understand the brain and how we get stuck in certain areas so that we don't have to have that be a life sentence that we really get to move beyond.
We might understand. Okay. So that's why I do it. But if we're still doing it, that change hasn't really come in to, to make the difference that we're looking to make.
[00:14:28] Billie Tarascio: Got it.
Mm-hmm. Wonderful. So how do people find you if they wanna work with you?
[00:14:33] Johanna Lynn: Yeah, so they can find me on my website, which is my name, www.johannalynn.ca.
And they can find me on social media under my institute's name, the Family Imprint Institute.
[00:14:47] Billie Tarascio: Thank you so much for being on this show. I have really enjoyed getting to know you and, um, this episode. And if you all have enjoyed the episode, make sure that you rate it, leave a review, download it, send it to your [00:15:00] friends, and if you know someone who would be an excellent guest on the Modern Divorce podcast, please send them our way.
Thank you so much. Have a great day.
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