My partner and I love to travel. We had both travelled extensively before meeting each other and are excited to do it together forever. My problem is this: he thinks his way of doing research and booking hotels/experiences is the only legitimate way to do it. Usually, to avoid an argument, I go with the flow and allow him to make all the plans and arrangements. To be fair, he does ask my opinion, however, if I suggest something different he generally poo-poos it.
We are struggling now because I’m starting to feel marginalised and dismissed. He wants to be in charge but also complains that he “has to do all the planning”. How do you think we can resolve this and work together on planning without resenting how the other one does their “research”?
Eleanor says: For some people, knowing more than others is a way of demonstrating superiority. This is a weird phenomenon, because whether you know more than others or are right about what you think you know is frequently a matter of luck. All the same, for some people, knowing the Right way to do things can become a real point of pride. It can seem (to them) to demonstrate good things about them; they’re tasteful, shrewd, conscientious.
And in fact they can be right – it can be a blessing to have someone in the household who makes sure you won’t get swindled by a tour company or book something that looks better than it is. The hazard is when Knowing Lots turns into Knowing Best; when knowledge isn’t something you’re excited to share and grow together, but something one of you has and the other doesn’t. Knowledge can start to feel zero-sum in the relationship, like the possibility that you have some necessarily implies that he has less.
It seems to me the challenge is to wrest back the idea that planning and organising is something you both could share. How can you make this collaborative again?
One thing to get clear on is if this is genuinely a matter of not liking your “research” or if he just doesn’t want to do what you want to do. If you love group tours and he hates them, or one of you loves restaurants and the other street food, there’s no need to pretend that’s a planning problem or even that someone must be getting it wrong. You can just make time for different activities on your holidays. There’s only so much that two separate individuals can be expected to converge on indefinitely: it might be healthy (and fun!) to do separate things some days. That way you don’t always have to be jointly planning joint activities, and when you enjoy your own side mission, that might be unavoidable proof to him that you can plan after all.
Another strategy might be to tell a lot of stories from your time travelling alone. …….