Every week, I’ll be sharing a new grudge that’s not in my book — sometimes mine, sometimes someone else’s (with their permission, obviously!) There are plenty of new grudges born every minute – send yours to if you would like to share it and have it analysed!

The Drunken Husband Grudge


This week, I’m sharing my views about a fascinating grudge situation, which was presented to me as follows (though I’ve paraphrased it):This week, I’m sharing my views about a fascinating grudge situation, which was presented to me as follows (though I’ve paraphrased it):

‘Recently, my partner and I bumped into my old friend Kath whom I hadn’t seen for more than five years, and her new husband Steven, whom I’d never met before. It was lovely to run into Kath, and we immediately invited the two them round for dinner. They accepted, and, three weeks later, they came round bearing flowers and a bottle of wine.

The evening started really well, but then Steven just kept drinking more and more wine, and when we ran out, he made it clear he wanted still more, which my partner felt he had to go out to an off-licence to buy. Steven drank a phenomenal amount, and as he got drunker and drunker, his behaviour grew more obnoxious. He didn’t insult anyone or do anything officially bad — he just kind of rolled around and slurred his words and generally made a drunken and embarrassing exhibition of himself. As a result, the rest of us couldn’t really chat properly after a certain point — his inebriated state dominated the night.

Weirdly, Kath was kind of laughing along with him, as if she didn’t think he was behaving terribly. Now, I don’t know Steven from a bar of soap so I don’t have a grudge about him because he’s not really anything to me, but I expected Kath to ring or email me the next day and say, “I’m so sorry about the way Steven behaved”, and…she didn’t. She never said anything along those lines, so I can only assume she isn’t sorry and thinks Steven’s behaviour at my house was totally okay.

I have a question: is it unfair of me to hold a grudge because Kath failed to disapprove of him and apologise for him? I mean, just because she’s married to him doesn’t mean it’s her job to apologise for his behaviour. Strictly speaking, shouldn’t my grudge be against Steven or nobody? Is it even a little sexist of me to expect a wife to take responsibility for her husband’s boorish behaviour?’

Sophie says:

I think Steven’s behaviour is grudgeworthy, even though you and he don’t know one another hardly at all. I don’t think I’d invite him round to my house again if I were you, and a grudge about him specifically might remind you not to let him ruin another of your evenings.

I don’t think sexism comes into it. In relation to your grudge about Kath, the key point is that she was the linking person — without her link to Steven and her link to you, Steven wouldn’t have been in your house that night.  I’m guessing you’d have your grudge about Kath whether it was her husband, mother or sister she’d brought into your house, allowed to behave badly and then failed to apologise for — wouldn’t you? If your answer is “yes”, then sexism is a red herring and nothing to do with this situation.

I don’t believe any of us have a duty to apologise for other people’s bad behaviour, but Kath could have rung you the next day and said, ‘I just want you to know that I’ve told Steven he was out of order last night.’  That she didn’t do so suggests to me one of two things: either she has no idea that to get obnoxiously drunk when you’re someone else’s guest is not okay, or else she does know it’s not okay but is choosing to apply different rules to her husband.

Either way, she evidently doesn’t have a clue what might or might not ruin your evening in your house, so I’d say you need a protective grudge about Kath to stop you allowing Steven to ruin any more of your evenings. There’s always the option of telling her that you were annoyed or upset by Steven’s behaviour and her response to it, and this is what many people would suggest you should do if you care about your relationship with Kath. Personally, I wouldn’t advise it. I think she’d stick up for Steven and there might then be open conflict.

What I would do is always arrange to see Kath and Steven in a restaurant from now on — that way you can enjoy their company for as long as it’s enjoyable, and then leave if Steven drinks too much and gets too annoying. If this happens regularly, it’s possible that both Kath and Steven are in denial about him having a serious drinking problem, and that might be something you’d want to raise at some point if you think he’s in danger of serious addiction or health-damage.

Discover Sophie’s Grudge Type classification system in HOW TO HOLD A GRUDGE – available from all good book retailers now!

About devastating historical events and atrocities, we often say, ‘Never forget’. Why? Is it that we want to extend the suffering for as long as possible? No, of course not — it’s because we know that history (the horrible bits of it especially) contains useful lessons and warnings that we would be fools to ignore.

Yet about upsetting personal incidents, we often hear people say, ‘Don’t hold a grudge. Move on, for your own sake.’ Every time we say this, we are effectively asking someone to forget the important warnings and lessons from their own life history.