I have worked for several years with Swing, and I have found it very cool after many years with MS Visual Studio resource editor. In fact, we have played with something similar to Swing layout management in MFC... The tutorials were easy to understand, and I could do whatever I wanted; the code was also clear and understandable. My favorites were BorderLayout and GridBagLayout (although I had to add a little helper tool to this to make it really comfortable). Okay, I primarily worked in data management apps (data structures, components, hierarchically integrated panels), no fancy stuff; and also worked on a "rendered swing gui", where the actual user interface Swing objects were generated from an XML description. So I had no problem with the layouts after I started "feeling it".
On the other hand, I badly missed any help in data binding and state management (say: I want this edit box to display and modify the name of the person, and somehow represent the state that it is an error when it is empty). I worked a lot on this framework. Now I code for iOS, the data binding is (almost) a piece of cake, but I badly miss layout management. Okay, this is a fixed size screen, but...
I would need more details to understand your problems with Swing? layout management? a particular layout manager?