So, when all evidence points to a relationship being doomed, the people in it should stick around and talk about it? Maybe the woman should try a little of that "active listening" -- even when the guy's coming on like Jack in "The Shining" and she's cowering behind the locked bathroom door: "Um...Jack, honey...would I be right to say you seem to be hacking through the bathroom door with a really huge, very sharp ax?" Maybe even you have to agree, there's a time for active listening and a time for active running for your life.
The truth is, except when the guy is chasing the woman with the ax, or seems about to, I rarely tell women to break up -- mainly because it's not very effective. In fact, 32.5 of a woman's friends have probably told her to get out, like, 32,000 times. If she's writing to me, it's usually because she's still there -- power-rationalizing why she should continue to stick around. Addiction treatment specialist Stanton Peele concurs that you don't get people to change by telling them what to do, and says about my approach, "Humor and good-natured irony are far more effective at motivating change than direct instructions and -- certainly -- than lecturing. The latter raise people's defenses." In the spirit of giving advice that might actually be productive, I lay out the disconnect between what people want and what they're doing and let the absurdity of it stink for itself: "Aww, how sweet, maggots in the shape of a heart!"
As for the contention "you're not human if you don't have problems," it doesn't seem to be from Winston Churchill, but I'm guessing whoever said it wasn't advising people to find the most troubled, unsuitable partner they could and get cracking. While looking for the quote, I did find this exchange Churchill had with Lady Astor. She said, "Winston, if you were my husband, I should flavor your coffee with poison." His response: "Madam, if I were your husband, I should drink it." Clearly, "shortcomings" are sometimes hugecomings. Fear of being alone or reluctance to acknowledge you've made a mistake and wasted a chunk of time with somebody won't turn irreconcilable differences into nagging idiosyncrasies. Better to admit you're coming in for a crash landing, and follow standard procedure (it says "hit the 'eject' button," not "hit the 'stay with the burning plane' button").
Living alone doesn't mean you'll die alone. I had a friend die, and if anything, she died crowded, with the nurses scolding her friends for violating fire codes. By the way, she did have a husband. They were divorced. The truth is, if you stick with the wrong person, you can die lonely with your husband of 86 years right by your side. If more women were comfortable enough with themselves to be alone, they wouldn't feel the need to grab hold of the first piece of driftwood that floats by, then spend the rest of their lives in couples counseling complaining that the guy's a little...wooden.