Sunday, July 27, 2014

Survival Tips for Single Parents

Most of us dream of providing our children with a happy and safe intact family situation.  But when that doesn't pan out, we have to move on to Plan B.  Unfortunately, not everyone shares the same vision for what Plan B should look like, and if the two parents cannot reach an agreement, then it will be left up to a court to decide what your Plan B will look like, and let me be perfectly candid-- that is a very nasty and expensive ordeal that thankfully over 70% of us will avoid.

Regardless of how you arrive at Plan B, the point is we all need to quickly learn to make the best of a bad situation, especially for our kids' sake.  To do this, there are a few key things you have to try and learn to do sooner rather than later after your separation/divorce:

1. Work Through the Emotions- You have to get past the anger, disappointment, anxiety, and/or feelings of betrayal in order to move forward.  Harboring resentment is not healthy, and it's not sexy.
The sooner you can let go of the past, the sooner you can be open to what the future has in store for you, including the possibility of finding love again.

2. Be Flexible- Certain provisions related to children are not necessarily written in stone-- precisely because we know that over time 60% will remarry and have a new blended family scenario, plus it is normal and expected that financial circumstances will change and/or adjustments may have to be made to kids' schedules.  Revisiting these arrangements is normal, so you need to be able to roll with the changes.

3.  Filter Information-  Kids don't need to know all the details about why their parents split up, nor do they need to hear about the issues you are arguing about or how afraid you are about the future.  Every child is entitled to a childhood-- and what that means is that they should just be able to enjoy life both at home and school, know that their parents love them and will provide for them, and they should feel free to express their sentiments without fear.

4. Find an Ally- Whether it is a shrink, your mom, or your best friend, it doesn't matter-- but you need to have someone you trust in your life that you can vent to from time to time.  Navigating single life while raising a child is super hard because here you are trying to create a new life for yourself while also helping another start out his/her separate life, and the responsibilities are immense.  When you are on parent-duty, it is intense because you have no one to tag-team with, and inevitably you will have melt-down moments-- that is normal.  Just find someone with good judgment that can counsel you and will talk you off the cliff-- that life line is key.

It has not been easy raising a child on my own the last 9 years, but somehow I have managed to keep it together, especially by following these survival tips.  Truth is being a single mom is by far the toughest job I've ever had, and on multiple occasions I really felt like I was getting my butt kicked, but the good times far outweigh the bad ones, and hands down motherhood is by far the most rewarding experience I have had in life.  With these tips, I hope others will feel the same way too.  

Friday, July 25, 2014

5 Simple Steps to Untying the Knot

Untying the knot doesn't have to be messy or expensive.  Here are 5 key things I ask my clients to do for themselves to make the divorce process go as quickly and smoothly as possible, at least on our end, without knowing of course how the other party is going to respond:

1. Gather financial documents- We need to know all the assets and liabilities accumulated during the marriage.  If you are claiming some assets are non-marital, we need proof.  Get estimates for the house and cars, and run a credit report to confirm that you are fully aware of the liabilities in your own name.

2. Prepare a monthly budget- You will have to make some educated guesses as to what your reasonable monthly expenses will be after the separation/divorce, especially for necessities like housing, food, clothing, medical care and transportation.  Once you have that number and take into account your monthly income, we can figure how to address any deficits.

3. Do an inventory- No attorney or judge I know wants to hear about the "stuff" in the house.  Make a list of all the items with approximate values, and then try to come up with your wish list of what you want to keep.  If your spouse doesn't agree to certain things you could play the coin toss game, or sell it and divide the proceeds.

4. Look at a calendar- With respect to time-sharing arrangements with kids, each family has a different schedule that is tailored to suit that family's needs, so there is no exact formula, but generally speaking we can all accept that there will be a range of 4-15 overnights with the other parent that need to be identified so that the children can count on regular and frequent contact with both parents.

5. Get advice- You need to know your legal rights and obligations before you embark in this process, even if you then proceed on your own, and it is just as important to check in with counselor, even if just for 3 sessions.  Divorce brings up so many emotions, and unfortunately emotions can cloud a person's judgment, which is exactly what makes my job so challenging.  The assistance that mental health professionals can provide to an individual going through a divorce is invaluable-- not just during the legal process, but even long after my job is done.

Those that do this homework have a much easier time untying the knot than those that do not-- and it keeps their legal expenses down considerably.  Unfortunately, too many focus on the why the partnership is unraveling instead of focusing on the how-- not that the why isn't important from an emotional perspective, but we tend to keep that to a minimum in court, and hopefully you will too if you want to keep it simple and affordable.

By Regina A. DeMeo, Esq.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Can You Think of the Greater Good?

Last year, when I interviewed Bob Scuka of the National Institute for Relationship Enhancement in Bethesda, I asked him what he thought was the #1 threat married couples face, and much to my surprise his response was this: the American culture.  Ever since then, I have given his answer a lot of thought, and the fact is our society does place a huge emphasis on independence and the pursuit of an individual's happiness.  These are the fundamental principles that our country was founded on, and as great as these ideals are, they are indeed contrary to the mindset necessary for promoting a good marriage and healthy family ties.

Having dated American men my whole life until quite recently, I never fully understood the impact our cultural backgrounds can have on our relationships.  Now that I am with someone that shares my Latin culture, I can see how our shared backgrounds help us sync so easily-- we are both very affectionate, warm, spiritual, family-focused and fun-loving.  We were raised with the same values, and they are very different from those promoted in the U.S., which increasingly over the last 30 years seems obsessed with money and instant gratification.

I hate to be harsh, but my MTV generation is either going to realize the error of its ways, or we will sadly continue to see many marriages fall apart because individuals can't think beyond their own needs and wants to consider what might benefit the greater good.  You have to be able to compromise and learn to balance between giving and taking, otherwise it won't work.

If we really want to promote healthier relationships, then we are going to seriously have to change some of our core American values.  For a more detailed explanation of this, here is the Youtube link to the show with Bob Scuka:

Friday, July 18, 2014

5 Best Post-Divorce Life Lessons Ever

Divorce is an unfortunate setback in life that many of us will have to learn to overcome.  In the throws of it, it is so hard to see things clearly, but thankfully once the storm passes, from a much calmer perspective most of us do come to understand exactly why things had to end, and we learn to appreciate the opportunity to move forward forging a new and very different path.

Looking back at the past several years, I have so much to be grateful for, and among all the beautiful post-divorce life lessons there are to experience, here are my top 5:

1. It's Okay to Ask for Help- I could not have weathered all the transitions over the past 9 years without my life coach, who not only helped me get past the guilt, anger and sorrow I felt upon ending my marriage, but also guided me through many difficult life decisions, including major shifts at work and home in order to create an environment that reflected my true values.  In addition, there is simply no way a single parent can manage (and maintain his/her sanity) without the assistance of family and friends.  Each little act of kindness might not seem like a big deal in and of itself, but at least when I look back at how much my loved ones, and sometimes complete strangers like the school personnel and other parents have contributed throughout the years to help me raise a healthy, happy and well adjusted child, I am filled with nothing but immense gratitude.  Whenever I thought I was about to falter, somehow and in some way, a good samaritan came along and saved me.  From the stories I have been collecting, this is a common experience among divorced individuals, and if for some reason we cannot pay back the favors done for us, at least we can do our best to pay it forward.

2. Keep It Simple- After my divorce, I streamlined my expenses and moved to a much smaller apartment, which I could clean on my own within hours.  By carefully thinking through needs versus wants, I was able to cut out a lot of excess, and by not being so over-extended, I was able to reduce a tremendous amount of stress in my life and be more available to family and friends.  The calmness I feel within is obvious to all those I now encounter, and many ask me what is my secret.  Funny thing is it's not a secret at all-- it is quite public knowledge that I gave up the crazy hours of law firm life, got rid of the ridiculous luxury car payments and the mortgage that would make most people vomit, and then eliminated tons of people from my personal payroll, and yes this means I live very differently from when I was married, but sadly it took this humbling experience to help me figure out my core values and recognize what is simply b.s.

3. Find Balance- Learning to live on my own for so many years, without a ton of distractions or counting on anyone else to entertain me, I was able decipher what really makes me happy, and then I just had to make time to do those things.  As much as I enjoy being a lawyer and a mother, I realized after my marriage fell apart that I could not just focus on those two things 24/7.  I have since carved out a lot of "me time" to meet my needs, e.g. I need time to exercise; I need quiet time to read and write; I need time to be silly with friends; and yes, I need time to simply be appreciated by a man as a beautiful woman.  When your needs are met, you will feel incredibly balanced, and people will see you glow with pure joy.  I promise, it can be achieved.

4. Pick Your Battles- I guess by nature I became a litigator because I'm not afraid of going to battle, especially not a battle of wits, but after years of fighting other people's battles, I've grown tired of all the wars, especially the senseless ones.  After 20 years in the legal industry in one of the world's most litigious nations, if there is one lesson I wish more people would take to heart is that not every argument needs to be won; every slight does not need to be addressed-- somethings are worth letting go-- particularly if your opponent is irrational.  You cannot expect an irrational person to be rational, and all wars have a price tag, so you have to consider the emotional toll to everyone involved in addition to the financial implications.  

5. Stay Hopeful- Things really do have a funny way of working out if you just let time do its thing.  While we all need to mourn the loss of our marriage and the dreams we had of happily ever after, sooner or later it will be time to end the pity party and go have some fun.  Life does go on-- even in your 40s, 50s, and 60s.  So many of my clients have initially said they will never marry again, and yet months or years later they call back with an update that they have met someone incredibly special and that despite their past belief that all was lost, they've now managed to find a second chance at love and a far, far happier life.  The key to finding love again of course is to never lose hope.  You have to keep putting yourself out there, allow someone to see your vulnerable side, and give them the opportunity to prove to you that a secure relationship built on trust and respect with incredibly tender exchanges remains a real possibility for all of us at any age.

If I could only have gotten all this knowledge without the pain, how awesome would that be... but of course, I get that I would not be the person I am today without the experiences I had to go through, and now I get to share them publicly so that others can realize they are not alone.  Divorce sucks, plain and simple-- but there is a wonderful life that awaits if you can find the courage to create a new reality and continue to love.

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Top 10 Things That Drive People Crazy

Navigating relationships gracefully is a skill that doesn't seem to come naturally to most, but you know there is a reason they say practice makes perfect, and I do believe that over time, we can learn to discipline our emotions-- especially if we can figure out the why.   Over the years, while helping people unravel their marriages, I've identified some common behaviors that have a great tendency to set people off, and if you want things to last, then here's what you should avoid:

1. Not listening.  We all want to be heard and feel like our partners understand us, and if this is not happening it is an incredibly valid source of frustration.

2. Needs not being met.  If you are specific with someone about what you need, i.e. 2 date nights a month without kids, and your request is ignored, resentment is seriously going to kick in fast.

3. Repeat Offenders.  When you call someone out on something for the first time, it's only fair to cut them some slack if they had no idea that behavior would piss you off, but if the person continues to repeat the behavior I see no point in giving that person further passes.

4. Broken promises.  We all want to know that we can count on someone to do what they say they are going to do; that is precisely how you build trust.  If someone isn't true to his/her word, what is the point in subjecting yourself to ongoing disappointment?

5. Going radio silent.  Many of us may need to disconnect when we are upset so that we can think things through carefully, but I wouldn't recommend going MIA for more than 24 hours.  When you are calm and can rationally explain your sentiments,  you should clue someone into the reasons why you are so upset.  To shut someone out completely without explanation beyond 48 hours is just plain cruel.

6. Not enough quality time.  To feel special and loved, you need to spend quality time with your partner, and when that person is continually unavailable, it is inevitable that you will feel abandoned and taken for granted.

7. Name calling.  Hopefully by college most people have outgrown this bad habit-- how is it helpful to call someone a nasty name or tell them that they are "wrong" for feeling a certain way?  The point of language is to communicate our ideas so that we can peacefully co-exist, especially with our loved ones.  Treating someone with disrespect is the surest way to alienate someone and/or make them hate you.

8. Being Plan B.  No one wants to be the fall-back guy or gal.  We all want to be with someone that treats us like we are a priority-- this is normal; treating people you supposedly care about like your back-up plan is not.

9. Wobbly stools.  What do I mean by this? Well, imagine a person as a 3 legged stool-- and when work and home life sucks, s/he keeps leaning on the one stable leg remaining-- his/her significant other.  Now, on a temporary basis, this may be okay, but you cannot continually act as someone's emotional crutch.  We all fall on hard times, and it is great to be able to lean on the one you love, but not all the time-- that is just too unstable, plus being super needy simply isn't sexy.

10. Possessiveness.  This one is a biggie.  I know it is human nature to want to hold on tight to something you consider so precious, but people are not acquired objects.  We all need to enjoy our freedom, and we are all part of a greater community-- no one is here to be someone's one and only.  If someone really loves you and values the relationship, then s/he will come back freely and voluntarily-- and if they don't, just accept that it wasn't meant to be.  Honestly, there should be no need to track someone's every move if you trust that person, and if you don't well then what does that tell you?

These are some very common triggers that set people off, and rather than just bury your head in the sand, I would encourage you to try and address these issues with your partner if you want to try and make it last.  Couples that are pro-active about addressing threats to the relationship stand a far better chance than passive couples at weathering storms.  Now if the storms just keep coming, then things may well be beyond repair, but at least now you may have a better understanding of why things spiraled out of control.  It happens, even to the best of us.

Friday, July 11, 2014

Do You Have A Bi-Polar Love?

Have you ever felt like you were on a roller coaster ride while dating someone?  Believe me- this happens a lot.  I don't know where Lionel Richie and Diana Ross got their inspiration for they lyrics to "Endless Love," but let me tell you what I hear about more and more each week are cases of a love bi-polar, which Katy Perry so eloquently described as follows:  

You're hot, then you're cold
You're yes, then you're no
You're in, then you're out
You're up, then you're down
You're wrong when it's right
It's black and it's white
We fight, we break up
We kiss, we make up

Does this sound crazy?  That is because it is, and if this is your current situation, I just have 2 words of (non-legal) advice: GET OUT.

Love is supposed to make you feel warm, safe, and calm.  You should feel soothed when you are around your partner, not like you are walking on egg shells.  For those that need help understanding this phenomenon I highly recommend this book by Paul Mason & Randi Kreger: Stop Walking On Eggshells.

Many people feel stupid for getting into one of these relationships, but they shouldn't-- a lot of high conflict personalities do a wonderful job of hiding their dysfunctional traits in the beginning, and especially when you are young and naive, you may not fully appreciate the depth of someone's mental illness.  And while it is sad that someone may be sick, you really have to question if that is something you want to live with-- because it is kind of like being around someone with the flu, eventually you too will get sick.

Seriously, if you want a thrill ride, go to an amusement park, but DO NOT put up with roller coaster rides in your relationships.   If you need help setting boundaries, there are some great books and counselors that can help with this, and if you find that the other person doesn't respect your boundaries, well then, you need to find a way to end it.  

These bipolar relationships are unfortunately quite common, and very unhealthy.  I'll tell you this- no will ever fault you for leaving, the real question is why would you stay? Life is simply too short to go around walking on eggshells-- that's not what love is like at all.  We all deserve far, far better.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Are You Getting Cold Feet?

Right before any momentous occasion, it is normal to be a bit nervous, but if you find yourself paralyzed with fear as your wedding day approaches, then maybe you need to stop and take a closer look at what is really going on.  You need to find a quiet and safe place to try and figure out what is at the root of your problems, and then see if you can address them before you walk down that aisle-- even if that means postponing the event.

I know no one likes to cancel plans, but if you find that you cannot sleep, you cannot eat, and/or you find yourself dreading the thought of making any plans related to the wedding, then there is something seriously wrong.  Your heart should skip a beat when you see your beloved, but that is not the same as having heart palpitations and sweaty palms, which are signs of major distress and/or anxiety.

Arguments are common when planning a wedding-- especially when it comes to budgets.  Lots of couples have different points of views as to what is an appropriate amount to spend on the big day and/or the honeymoon, how many guests to invite, or the roles that the future in-laws should play in planning the event.  Tensions can run high, which is why we all jokingly say that it's not a real wedding without some drama.  But all that drama should be external, not internal.

If you find the fights are quite nasty or way too frequent, you need to take a step back and ask why is there so much conflict?  If the only issue is how you handle finances, well that might be easily addressed in a prenup, but if you are not communicating effectively that to me is a far more severe problem, and if you cannot get on the same page with details of just this one party, then you probably have very different values and you seriously have to question whether you really share the same vision for the future.

There is no shame in calling off a wedding-- it actually happens all the time, we just don't talk about it much, except in Hollywood.  Everyone I know that has done so always feels like they dodged a bullet and not a single person I know has ever regretted pulling the plug before it was too late, but meanwhile all of my divorce clients that ignored the warning signs before the big day have lived to regret going through with a wedding that never should have happened.

So, is it cold feet or something much bigger?  I don't know, but I bet you do-- deep down inside, your heart knows the answer (and I'm sure your close friends do too).  If it doesn't feel right, remember that there is no shame in postponing or calling it all off before it's too late.  If you are not happy during what should be one of the happiest times in your life, then there is something seriously wrong, and you'd be a fool to ignore all the signs.

Minor issues can easily be addressed, and if someone really loves you, they will give you time and help you work through things.  All those that really love you will understand and stick by your side regardless of what you decide, and if you discover an insurmountable issue before the big day, well consider yourself lucky and walk away.  It won't be easy, but believe me that unraveling things after you've tied the knot is far, far worse.  

Monday, July 7, 2014

Is There a Seven Year Itch?

Do you know why I like numbers so much?  Because they tell a story, and numbers don't lie.  We  actually track a lot of data related to families, including how long marriages tend to last.  The fact is 50% of all divorces are filed within the first 7 years.  Does this surprise you? Well, it shouldn't and here is why:

1. The average person marries in their mid to late 20's-- right around the time that we are all trying to establish ourselves in our careers, while also trying to buy a house, car, and have babies, and unfortunately many of us are at the same time desperately trying to pay down our student debt.  That is simply a lot to take on at once.

2. Navigating the complexities of a relationship is hard work, and making the choice to work through difficulties doesn't come naturally to most of us that are innately wired to fight or flee when we sense danger.  Sadly, whether you avoid the battles or launch into war at full speed doesn't matter-- either way this is the wrong way to handle adversity with your partner.

3. Many seem to lack good coping mechanisms for dealing with stress.  Unhealthy habits like drinking, smoking, engaging in risky behavior and over-eating are very common, and these activities often lead to the demise of a marriage-- especially when one person refuses to acknowledge that there is a problem.

4. Too often people marry for the wrong reasons, usually because they are driven by some artificial deadlines to find a spouse.  Some people fall in love with the idea of being married, but they are not actually in love with the person they are marrying.  Too many believe that they can either live with certain faults or change a person, and then later they find that these assumptions backfire on them.  You either love (and accept) someone the way that they are, or you don't.  It really is that simple, but usually we only realize this through our failed relationships.

5. Those that marry young still haven't figured out who they are, so the risk is quite high of growing apart as your mission in life and vision for the future morphs.  If you are not on the same page as to where you want to head going forward, you can fall out of love.

It rarely happens overnight, but ever so slowly, a couple can overtime find that they are just no longer in sync, and this does tend to happen around the 7 year mark for married couples.  Then, the reason so many attempts at marriage counseling fail is because too much damage has occurred and at least one or perhaps both parties find that they have simply reached the point of no return.  Once that realization occurs, I don't believe there is any point in trying to place blame on anyone-- who cares why it is over?  The focus should simply be to untie the knot as quickly and gracefully as possible so that you can all move to a better place fast.

So, is there truly a seven year itch?  I will let the numbers speak for themselves, but maybe now you can understand the why a little bit better and cut yourselves some slack.  There are just so many variables at play that it is impossible to predict who will last, but if you do your best to avoid some of the known pitfalls, then maybe, just maybe you can beat the odds.  


Friday, July 4, 2014

Relationship and Marriage Advice | The Gottman Relationship Blog: Dr. Gottman's 5 Tips for Summer Travel

These tips are great-- my favorite being the need to yield to win, so true!  Relationship and Marriage Advice | The Gottman Relationship Blog: Dr. Gottman's 5 Tips for Summer Travel: In The Relationship Cure , Dr. John Gottman emphasizes the importance of vacations as a ritual of connection. Taking a honeymoon afte...

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Is There a DIY Divorce?

I'm all for helping people save money, and thankfully over the last 10 years we have made major advances in revamping our court systems to make the required family forms more readily available and the uncontested divorce process more user-friendly.  However, on a regular basis I still hear horror stories about people that tried to do their own divorces without the advice of counsel and how this ended in disaster, which reminds me of the saying: Penny Wise, Pound Foolish.

Many courts offer free or reduced mediation services for their legal residents, but of course mediators are not allowed to represent or negotiate on behalf of either party, they are there to simply facilitate communication and help the parties reach a mutual agreement.  Self Help Centers are another great resource, but they are often staffed with individuals that are not always attorneys, and while they can provide basic information about the process and assist pro se litigants fill out the necessary forms, they are typically precluded from giving legal advice.

If you have issues pertaining to custody, child support, alimony or property division that need to be addressed in a divorce, don't you think it is worth paying the national average of about $300 for a consult fee to meet with an attorney and make sure you understand your rights and obligations?  Knowledge is power, but education always comes at a price.  In my opinion the consult fee is a bargain when you consider what is at stake.

Once you waive your right to alimony or someone's pension, or a court makes certain findings regarding custody or child support, there are just some things that cannot be undone.  The IRS has certain rules about how long you have to make tax-free transfers between spouses, and it will not recognize verbal agreements related to alimony-- it has to be in writing.  Furthermore, most pension plans need a court order (which courts do not prepare) to distribute retirement assets without incurring taxes as part of the divorce.  These are just a few examples of some little details that can be overlooked by someone that fails to consult an attorney, and these mistakes can have severe financial consequences.

So, is there a DIY divorce?  Sure, it's possible, but given what is at risk, you really need to ask yourself whether it may not be prudent to at least check in with a legal expert.  Please don't be penny wise and pound foolish.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Are You Stuck In a Loveless Marriage?

Very few of us get married thinking that we will be among those whose flame will burn out, but so many of us fall into the same trap-- as the years pass, we take our love for granted and focus too much of our time and energy on work, kids-- even our pets, while failing to make our partners feel like they are a priority.  Many just suffer in silence, but let's face it-- no one likes playing second fiddle, and it is precisely the resentment that will eventualy kill all the passion.

The harsh truth is that while many may contemplate a divorce, the economic realities of that choice will keep most people from actually pulling the trigger.  If you have a established a very comfortable life under one roof, but you realize you cannot maintain that same life in two separate households, then many people will try to suck it up believing that everyone will be able to just maintain the status quo and keep up a happy facade.  But all you need is one perfect storm to have the whole house of cards come crashing down-- and the storm is inevitably going to come, it always does.

Whether it is a health scare, the death of a loved one, loss of employment, an economic crisis, or something else, life will always present us with challenges that make us reassess our priorities and question whether we are on the right path.  If you and your partner are not in sync during these moments of existential crisis, this is going to be a real issue.  Why?  Because you can't be on a tandem bike and have two people go in separate directions-- that doesn't work.

It is of no surprise that one of my all time favorite plays is "No Exit" by Jean Paul Sartre, who portrays hell as being a place where you are stuck for eternity with others that you cannot stand-- and there is no escape.  Well, marriage should not be your hell on Earth.  It is meant to be your sanctuary, so if it is not, then do something about it: either fix the issues or get out, it really is that simple.

There is a new tv series coming out this month on USA Network that will explore this dilemma that many 40/50 somethings seem to be facing.   I got a sneak peak at "Satisfaction," and I am definitely looking forward to seeing how it unfolds and is received by audiences.   In the meantime, 5 past blogs seem to be resonating with a lot of my peers, and honestly, I am not surprised because we simply are at that age:

1. Is There Really a Midlife Crisis?
2. 5 Reasons Transitions Are So Scary;
3. Til Death Do Us Part;
4. 5 Key Points to Consider in Divorce; and
5. Top 10 Signs You Are Falling Out of Love.

If you feel like you are stuck in a loveless marriage, I suggest you take some time to do all your research and explore all your options.  Get away for a weekend and do whatever soul-searching you need to do, and then try to have some honest discussions with your spouse about how you feel.  If your partner is willing to work with you, then I think that is a great sign that all is not lost.  But if that person refuses to acknowledge that there's a problem and/or isn't willing to work with you to address the issues at hand, well then you alone have to decide if you can live with the status quo or not.

No matter what just remember-- you are not stuck.  Marriage is not meant to be a prison, but rather a beautiful union between two individuals that choose to freely love each other every day by exercising their freewill.  If that flame has died out yet you sense that there is still a passionate side of you that is yearning to be free, then you have to find a graceful way to exit your partnership so that you can then go ignite that fire again elsewhere.

Untethered from fear, anything is possible.  So, don't be afraid, but rather with what little time we have left here go explore life to its fullest potential!