I was reading a comment on a sailing discussion board;
“I (and others) would recommend that couples who attend sailing schools be split up (different boats, or different times), so each person gains the self-confidence that comes with dealing with the various situations by themselves instead of deferring to the dominant partner.”
Self-confidence is critical, but if you want to sail together you also have to have confidence in your partner. You can build that by recognizing each others new skills and practicing them together. In a structured learning environment with capable instructors, how to handle the issue of “deferring to the dominant partner” is part of learning to work as a team.
I think the quote above describes poor instruction rather than the ability to learn together. Margie and I do have the advantage of instructing one couple at a time but even with the larger class sizes and a having a single instructor that is typical of most sailing schools it should be possible to have a good experience. When we are teaching couples there are times when a gentle reminder to let their partner “do it” may be in order. The flip side is after seeing your spouse dock the boat, trim the sails or navigate a tight channel you will gain confidence in their abilities. That confidence means that both partners are part of the decision making process that will make sailing fun and comfortable for both of you.