Dear Carolyn: During my 10-month engagement we’ve had a couple of bumps in the road and seen a couple’s counselor. Recently we have come to a crossroads. He can be overly sensitive — a carryover I’m sure from his childhood. This can result in arguments where he is wounded by something that SHOULD NOT BE an issue, and he cannot see he is overreacting.
He unenthusiastically said he would go to a therapist if that’s what I REALLY need. But now I go back and forth wondering if it’s worth the effort. No one’s partner makes them 100 percent happy all the time, but in this context, other (normal) differences between us make me feel like it’s not worth it to see if he can get help and heal.
But — I love him. Do I stick it out for love (whether we work out or not), or do I pull the plug now in hopes there is someone whole out there for me?
Very Sad & Confused
Neither of the above.
▪ Here’s where you “stick it out”: (1) if it’s working as-is, meaning, if you feel good and relaxed enough to be yourself around him, and if you function together in a way that you can see improving your quality of life now and into the distant future — be it at the fun times (weekends, vacations, celebrating milestones) or the challenging times (managing a money crisis, raising children, getting sick, grieving a loved one). Again, as-is. And, (2) if your relationship falls short of this great-as-is mark but you’re making real, mutual progress toward that end — meaning, you both agree what needs to be done and you both are ungrudgingly doing the work toward that goal. To be clear: Stick it out if things are progressing, but don’t marry till you reach that great-as-is point.
▪ Here’s where you “pull the plug now”: if it’s not working as-is and efforts to get to that point aren’t mutual or aren’t getting anywhere.
Whether you love him is important but not germane to this decision, believe it or not, and your prospects for meeting someone better are also important but not relevant here. As I’ve said before but maybe not recently enough, if you’re choosing between Guy X and Guy Y, the only right answer is neither guy — and that extends to choosing between Guy X and Prospect of a Better Guy. That’s because both “choices” say the exact same thing: You’re not sold on Guy X.
By the way, you don’t get to decide what he “should” be upset about — however, you absolutely can decide you don’t want to share your whole life journey with someone who’s upset all the time.
Email Carolyn at email@example.com, follow her on Facebook at facebook.com/carolyn.hax or chat with her online at 10 a.m. each Friday at www.washingtonpost.com.