Adapted from a recent online discussion.
When to keep trying and when to say when
Not sure: I'm trying to find out the difference between a rough patch and the end. So many people go through rough patches but make it out. Then again, so many people just stick around and remain miserable for the rest of their lives, believing it is just a rough patch. How can I really know the difference and not feel that I'm wasting time or trying hard to work through things in vain?
Carolyn: What are you trying to work through, and what are you doing, both of you, toward making things work?
These are the details that distinguish coming through a rough patch better than you were before, and just filling your pack with rocks and walking uphill for the rest of your life. Barefoot.
Not sure: We definitely argue, and I don't think we fight fair. Some times are really great and we talk about the future. However, other times he seems patently incapable of seeing things from another perspective.
He has told me I'm defensive/stubborn and frustrating to him. I've worked on dropping arguments and objections, and on admitting I'm wrong. I don't seem to see similar growth on the other side. I'd like him to be able to disagree without being disrespectful and to realize that if someone has a different outlook, it doesn't mean it is automatically bad.
I see stories of drug addicts/abusers/cheaters who work through it and come out stronger, when those seem to me like reasons to leave.
Carolyn: Looking to addicts/abusers/cheaters for inspiration says a lot for how you regard your circumstances.
Generally when people are reaching far and wide for answers to relationship problems, it means the answers are right in front of them and they just don't like them.
If you're not happy with the way things are, and you don't see anything changing, then it's time to pull the plug. If you're not ready to pull the plug, then get back to changing the one thing you can change: You. For the right reasons, of course.
You say you've tried to be more open-minded, which is never a wasted effort, even if the relationship doesn't make it. Next — and, again, this is only if you don't think leaving is the right thing — you try changing your expectations. Accept that he will always be "patently incapable of seeing things from another perspective," accept that he will always argue the way he argues now. Spend some time figuring out whether you can live with that.
When a friend is in difficulty, it's time to exit the snark zone
Q: What would your response be to a friend who says, "How do you think it makes me feel when you're telling me this when I have no prospects of getting pregnant anytime soon?" after you've just told her you're really worried you might have trouble conceiving? You're both in your 30s. Friend is not in a serious relationship. You're married. You've known this friend for 15-plus years.
A: ''I didn't realize this was a sensitive subject for you. Would you like to talk about it?"
If you hoped for a snarky answer, that would prove she had a point.