Dear Jody: Traveling Wars

Traveling wars

Q: "John" (my lover) loves to travel anywhere and any time. I don't. I always feel like I have to somehow justify why I don't like it, but the plain truth of it is that it's just not something I like.

I don't like hotels rooms, restaurant food 24/7, and not being able to just sit down and relax in my home. I have lots of things that keep me busy at home, and I like being there when I'm not at work. It's not that I don't mind a few days away, because I do. But what I don't enjoy is extensive travel away from home.

But, according to John, I'm some sort of dullard and lack any kind of sophistication. I feel really insulted by this, and because I'm ashamed of my feelings about travel, I find myself making excuses for not going some places - other than saying, outright, that I just don't want to and that I'd rather spend my time differently. So, I say things like, "I can't get away from work" or "I have to be on-call for work."

One time I even scheduled elective surgery just so I didn't (though I didn't say it was exactly elective) have to go with John to an overseas trip - it was a scheduled business trip for him that I could have gone on. However, had I gone, I would have had to spend the day pretty much by myself in a hotel room since I don't speak the language and don't know the territory and don't like guided tours, even in English. (I've been there and done that: You get hauled around like cattle and see what they want you to see, not what you might be interested in.)

John now wants me to go to Germany for two and a half weeks. I am tired of thinking of ways to get out of traveling with him. I'm tired of feeling like a dullard, a hayseed or an unsupportive lover. So I decide to tell John the truth and live with it. So, I say to John, "I don't want to go, I got other things I'd rather do, and I don't want to take time from work" - which, this time, is true. Well, he goes on this tirade about how I'm a "country bumpkin, an "uncultured slob" and a person who doesn't "appreciate the opportunities put before him." So, being truthful just makes me feel, well, like someone who doesn't deserve all the opportunities put before me, an uncultured slob and a country hick. Everything he always says about me.

So, lying makes me feel bad about myself and like I don't have balls to stand up to John, and telling him the truth just gives him ammunition to shoot at me - with both barrels. Do you have any other ideas of how I can do what seems good to me without having to feel like a ball-less wonder or a slimy snake trying to slink out of something I don't want?

No Balls, No Glory

A: How about the truth with balls? You need to tell John that you will not put up with his abuse when he calls you names because you have different views of what's enjoyable. But, before you do that, you must believe it yourself, because that's the real problem here. As it is now, you don't believe that your likes and comforts are OK, and that your needs and opinions are just as valid as John's. Because of this, you are vulnerable to John's name calling. I'm guessing this won't be easy for you, so I suggest that you get into therapy and work on your self-esteem so that you can stand up for yourself.

P.S.: When you gain self-esteem, this will change the dynamics between you and John, which is not easy in a relationship. So, I suggest John be part of couple's counseling as well. He needs to learn that calling your partner names is not good for you, and speaks poorly of him.

Jody Valley spent 12 years as a clinical social worker. She worked with the LGBT community both as a counselor and a workshop leader in the areas of coming out, self-esteem and relationship issues. Reach Jody at The Dear Jody column appears weekly. Letters may be edited.
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