office party will increase my workload, my wife’s company party makes me uneasy, and more

It’s seven holiday-related questions, and seven answers. Here we go…

1. Attending my office holiday party will seriously raise my workload

What should you do if attending your office holiday party will result in an increased workload? Our department’s holiday party is going to be during the workday, for four hours. If I am away from my desk during this time, I know that I’m going to have to work at least as many extra hours after the party in order to deal with everything that came up while I was there, and I know I’ll also risk angering some clients who expect me to be able to deal with issues that come up ASAP (I’m in tech support). Do I go and just accept I’ll be working very late that day? Should I show up for a limited time? Or should I skip the whole thing altogether?

I’d make a brief appearance (seriously brief, like 20 minutes) and then return to work. If you have a manager who cares whether you show up to these sorts of things, just explain the situation to her ahead of time — “Hey, given the projects on my plate that day and the fact that clients often want support ASAP, I’m planning to just make an appearance at the party but then head back to my desk.”

2. Gifting upwards to someone who isn’t my direct manager

I work in a large public library system as a part-time associate, which means that I have most of the responsibilities of a librarian. It’s a lot of work to do on a part-time schedule, but fortunately my manager and coworkers are very supportive. One of them has gone above and beyond to help me this past year, and I’d like to give her a $10 gift card to let her know how much I appreciate it. I know that it’s inappropriate (and against my union’s rules) to give a gift to one’s manager, but what about to people who are at a higher level in the organization, but not within my my department or to whom I don’t report? It’s not against the rules, but is it a good idea?

(I also want to let you know that I’m working on my Master’s degree and took a course this semester in library management. As part of our coursework, we had to follow three professional blogs or publications, and Ask a Manager was the hit of the class. We often discussed your columns, and I talked about it so much at home that my husband started reading it as well. Thanks for your insights!)

Nope, don’t do it. What you should do, though, is to write her a note or card that tells her how much you’ve appreciated her help this year, and be as specific as you can about why. That kind of thing is treasured, often for years, far more than gift cards. So you’ll achieve much more of what you want to do (express sincere appreciation in a way that will make her feel good) with none of the gifting-upwards awkwardness.

Also, that is super cool about your class!

3. How to decline donating to a gift for the boss

I am new to my office (less than two months) and today an email went out to all of us about contributing to Christmas gifts for our supervisor, her boss, and our three leads. (I work in a call center.) How do I decline donating to these gifts? Some of my coworkers can be snippy about things and I don’t want to become the office naysayer, but I firmly believe in gifting down, not up. And if I do decide to go with the flow on this, how much is ok?

If you weren’t new, I’d encourage you to push back against the whole thing (“I’ve been reading that etiquette rules prohibit gifting upwards and that it makes a lot of managers uncomfortable — here’s an article about it — so I think we should just do a card”). But it can be tough to do that as the new person, so this year I’d just say, “Unfortunately my budget won’t allow me to chip in.”

However, if you decide it’s not a battle you feel like fighting, it’s really up to you how much you chip in. I can’t imagine a situation where I’d be willing to chip in more than 20 bucks for a manager’s gift (and even that would grate on me), but everyone draws this line differently.

4. I don’t like the sound of my wife’s company party

My wife recently took a job working for a large corporation three months ago. They are having a big blow-out dinner Christmas party, and no spouses or guests are allowed. I find this odd, as every company I’ve ever worked for allowed a guest when having a dinner party. A Christmas lunch is different only because you’re not expected to get trashed and more than likely the guest would be working at their job.

These people are a wild bunch who love to party and get rowdy. This place of business is about a half hour drive from where we live. She is insisting that she get a hotel room nearby, and she thinks this is acceptable behavior.

I haven’t expressed my dissatisfaction at this point and looking for an answer on how to best handle this situation. Also, last week she mentioned this and, most likely from the look on my face, she indicated that I could join her in the hotel room. It did make that situation more acceptable, but last night over dinner she basically excluded me and reserved a room for herself just down the road from the restaurant.

I can’t tell if you’re suspicious about whether the party is really employees-only, but it’s certainly feasible that it is. Some companies do have employees-only parties, even in the evening, although it’s not as common as parties that include spouses.

Getting a hotel room nearby so that she doesn’t have to drive home from a party where she’ll be drinking is in theory a responsible choice; presumably the idea is that she doesn’t want to drive after drinking or maybe drive home late at night.

But it sounds like you’re distrustful of the whole situation and that there’s an issue between you and your wife, totally separate from the issue of this particular party. Do you not trust her to attend by herself? If not, why not? I’d focus there and not on the party itself. This is a relationship issue more than a work issue, and I’d argue that the party is a red herring.

5. Is this an exception to the no-gifts-upward rule?

I know you’ve said that holidays gifts at work should flow downward, but I’m wondering if there are exceptions and, if so, does my case qualify?

My boss is very high level in the organization and has several managers reporting to her. I’m the only non-manager who reports directly to her. We have a good working relationship, and both share a love of animals, which we discuss during breaks, etc.

There is a book I know she would love, and am wondering if it is OK to get it for her as a holiday gift? It costs about $10-$12.

I will mention that I was hired on a one-year contract, but she recently asked me if I wanted to stay on and I said “yes,” so that part is out of the way so I don’t think this would be inappropriate.

I do think this is an exception. You don’t feel obligated to get her a gift and it’s not about getting her a gift for the sake of a gift, but rather this very specific item that you think she’d love.

6. Pointing out to my office that its holiday expectations are expensive for some of us

I was hired a few months ago as an entry-level professional (read: my salary is minimal and is just enough to cover expenses) after having recently graduated. We have a December staff meeting coming up, and the office mandates the purchase of a gift valued between a set range (so there is a minimum and maximum) and bringing food to the meeting.

I do not want to start any huge conflicts, especially as a new employee, so I already purchased the ingredients for the food item I decided to make and the gift. However, I am wondering if there is anything I can say or do to address this moving forward without creating unnecessary conflict or severely negatively affecting my relationships with my colleagues and supervisors.

Yep, you could say something like this to your manager or the person organizing the event: “I wanted to mention to you that on my salary, this really stretched my budget and was tough to pull off. I figured that might not be on the radar of people more senior to me, and I wanted to mention it in case next year the dollar amount can be lowered or more flexibility can be built in.”

7. Am I invited to this holiday party or not?

I started my job about 6 months ago and the place is very disorganized and mismanaged (I could give a ton of examples, but it would go on for pages).

Recently, I heard through the grapevine that there was going to be a holiday party. When I say the grapevine, I overheard my boss discussing it with two other people and the door was wide open, so no snooping was going on. Today I was told by my coworker that the party is officially on for next week but that is about all I know. I also know it is going to take place in my boss’s house, but I don’t know where she lives.

I am trying to figure out what I should do about all this as I would like more info, for example the time, if spouses/ significant others are invited, and any other information. To add to things, my coworker said to not expect to hear anything from said boss and if I want more info to ask person X. I also heard (again through the grapevine) that they want to possibly buy my boss a gift for this party. This seems so strange and I really would like to know how to handle this.

Ask a coworker for more information — either the one you already talked to, or the person she suggested you speak with. Just say this: “Can you tell me more about the party? Should I assume that I’m invited, even if I haven’t received an official invitation? Or is it possible that it’s only for some people? I don’t want to show up if it would be a faux paus to do that!” If you hear that yes, everyone is invited, then follow up with your logistics questions.

I’d err on the side of assuming that it’s just very casual, rather than that there’s anything weird going on.

Read an update to this letter here.

{ 334 comments… read them below }

  1. going anon*

    I’m giving some serious side-eye to OP4. I think Alison is right in saying that this is a relationship issue, not a work issue. An employee only party at night is not that odd. OP’s tone comes off as really judgmental and distrusting.

    1. Marzipan*

      Yup, chalk me up as someone else thinking that #4 sounds extremely worried and offended by something that I can’t construe as worrying or offensive.

      #4, I can’t remember any office Christmas party, at any employer I’ve *ever* worked for, that wasn’t an evening event; and I don’t believe spouses or partners have been invited to *any* of those events. It may be different to what you’re used to, but I promise it’s not terribly unusual or odd.

      I was also really worried by you saying ‘she thinks this is acceptable behaviour’ in relation to her opting to get a hotel room nearby. As an adult woman, I can’t see what about this would be UNacceptable (assuming it’s within her financial means) and actually it sounds entirely sensible. The alternative is that she has to get home to somewhere that’s a half-hour drive away, after a potentially quite rowdy night, so, what, drive drunk? Not drink? Get a taxi that whole way? Walk? Getting a hotel room she can just roll back to sounds ideal to me.

      On a side note, am I reading your letter correctly that you haven’t ‘expressed your dissatisfaction’ and that the only way your wife could determine any of how you’re feeling about all this is through your facial expressions? Because in her situation, I would be confused about what was going on with you. (If I’m honest, I’m fairly confused even having read your letter.)

      If you trust your wife, then kiss her on the cheek, wave her off to the party, don’t stay in the hotel room (why would you want to hang out in some random hotel room for the night?) and don’t worry any more about it. None of what you’re describing sounds at all odd. If, on the other hand, you don’t, then I agree with Alison – you’re focusing on the wrong problem.

      (Actually, now I come to think about it, I do remember one particular Christmas work event where the manager’s partner keep phoning her every five minutes, and waiting around outside venues we were in, because he refused to believe we were where she had told him we were. We went doing anything especially debauched, and it was really very disturbing to see him behave in this way. #4, I hope and believe you wouldn’t do anything like that, but please don’t let your anxieties lead you to be That Guy.)

      1. MK*

        I agree with most of what you say, except this: booking ahotel room that’s half-hour drive awa from my home makes little sense to me; the only time I did it was during a reunion sort of event, where I wanted to catch up with old friends and qwe spent the night talking in our pyjamas. Getting a taxi sounds a no-brainer for attending a drinking party that is likely to last till late.

        Caveat: where I live, a half-hour taxi ride would cost around 25-30 euros, possibly less depending on traffic, and a hotel room at least 3 times that. I understand in other places that cpuld be reversed.

        1. The Artist Formally Known As UKAnon*

          Could OP offer to come and pick his wife up? I can see where a hotel room becomes… odd. Especially if that isn’t a general office thing. Evening parties with drink are a fairly normal part of Christmas office celebrations, for what it’s worth, but booking a hotel room is a little more unusual without concrete logistical reasons.

          That said, OP, why would your wife booking a hotel room be unacceptable? And why do you have an unease about her drinking with colleagues? If she’s told you things that makes you think she’s being sexually harrassed or is uncomfortable around other employees or something else then now is the time to be supportive of her, not jealous and uneasy. And if she hasn’t given any indication that this isn’t just a normal workplace celebration then it’s 99% certain that this is a normal workplace celebration.

          1. Mike C.*

            Yeah, I was thinking the same thing about picking up the spouse rather than renting a room for the night or driving home drunk. That’s certainly what I would do.

            But really the fact remains that since the OP isn’t specifying what the problem actually is, the rest of us are left to speculate and the OP really doesn’t come off looking good here.

            If the OP wants better advice, s/he needs to provide more context and information.

            1. Laurel Gray*

              Strongly agree Mike C., strongly agree!

              It is not hard to make some obvious assumptions reading the OP’s letter and mostly because of the details that were provided, not the ones that are missing. I hope the OP comes back and provides more context but also that he discuss alternatives (like picking her up).

              1. Mike C.*

                It’s just really frustrating reading a phrase like “she thinks this is acceptable behavior” and yet doesn’t bother to specifically define the antecedent “this”. Combined with the whole “I haven’t bothered to say anything yet” the whole thing feels like a cheaply written drama where the whole conflict would be resolved in five minutes if someone would bother to speak up like an adult.

                1. MashaKasha*

                  Combined with the whole “I haven’t bothered to say anything yet” the whole thing feels like a cheaply written drama where the whole conflict would be resolved in five minutes if someone would bother to speak up like an adult.

                  Very well said!

                  And yes, you’re right, while “she thinks this is acceptable behavior” sounds patronizing and yucky, we really don’t know what exactly “it” is. Going to an employee-only company party? Getting a hotel? The whole setup sounds acceptable to me, so I am at a loss which parts of it should be unacceptable.

                2. AnonyMoose*

                  “the whole conflict would be resolved in five minutes if someone would bother to speak up like an adult”


                3. neverjaunty*

                  Yes, the OP should talk to his wife, but c’mon. The idea that people’s relationship problems can all be magically solved if only one speaks up is a fiction.

                4. Sarah*

                  @neverjaunty, I don’t think Mike C. was in any way suggesting that all people’s relationships fit that description, or even the letter writer’s entire relationship. Just this one, particular case of displeasure regarding the contents of the letter. I would absolutely suggest that the letter writer try talking to their wife (non-confrontationally) before assuming anything untoward is happening whatsoever.

          2. Marzipan*

            To me, the logistics of unpredictable collection times and cars ending up in the wrong places point towards a hotel room not being odd. I mean, if I were the wife here I could either drive to the venue, crash in a hotel room after the party, and drive back the next day; or I could drive to the venue, try to call spouse at an appropriate time to be collected (although I won’t necessarily know when this would be, and could get stuck hanging around in the dark waiting), spouse drives a one-hour round trip to come and get me from the party they seem to be unhappy about not being invited to, and then the next day spouse has to drive another hour’s round trip to get me back to the venue so I can get my car. (Similarly, getting a taxi leads to an element of this as well).

            I’d totally go with the hotel room, and it doesn’t seem odd to me. (And even if it is odd, people are allowed to choose to do non-harmful odd things!)

            1. Traveler*

              People are allowed to choose to do non-harmful odd things but considering the multitude of ways around this, but I think most spouses would find it to be a red flag to drop 80 bucks on a hotel a half hour away and not invite them. Especially given that they could pick me up, a coworker could drive me and I could get a cab home, I could get a cab both ways, I could take public transit one way and spouse or cab on the way home, I could abstain from getting drunk and still have a drink or two etc. etc. It could be a false red flag, and isn’t evidence of anything else on its own, but I’m side-eyeing that just as hard.

              1. Sigrid*

                Huh. I wouldn’t consider it a red flag at all if my husband got a hotel room after his holiday party, which is always about 30 minutes away. It would save me from having to wait around for his call and then spend an hour on the road. (Taxis and public transportation are unavailable in our area.)

                As it happens, he doesn’t drink, so it’s never an issue, but if he wanted to drink, I would much rather he get a hotel room.

                1. Green*

                  But if you said you would like to drive up with him and stay in the hotel room overnight, it would be odd if he decided you couldn’t.

                2. Victoria Nonprofit (USA)*

                  Yeah, I wouldn’t blink at any of the options here. Cab? Smart! Hotel? Sounds fun – I always love a night in a hotel so I’d be a bit envious. Ask me for a ride? Frugal, but annoying for me; if we could afford it I’d suggest one of the other options.

                3. Victoria Nonprofit (USA)*

                  Green: Eh, maybe. I can imagine my husband thinking that was weird of me and not being totally comfortable with it – especially if he suspected that it was driven by my suspicion that he was cheating on me or whatever the OP is thinking. Or he may just think it would look or sound weird if he told his colleagues or they saw me at breakfast the next morning.

                  And if it were me at the party and my husband in the hotel room I’d be worried that he was bored and waiting for me all night.

                4. Katie the Fed*

                  I think this depends on where you live. In the DC area, a half hour drive is still pretty close so it would be odd to stay in a hotel.

                5. AnonyMoose*

                  I’m in your same ‘I’m never jealous or weirded out by independent decision making of my spouse’ camp. I really would not give a hoot if my husband wanted to spend $80 of his own money to get (relatively) trashed with his work friends and then sleep it off (away from me, thankfully!). I would actually thank him for his kind gesture, ahem.

                  I think OP may have some different cultural expectations for his wife, or there have been other behaviors that he’s felt were inappropriate, or even that they’re a young couple with not a whole lot of experience in a trustful marriage. Something doesn’t add up.

                6. Traveler*

                  @anonymoose – I can’t speak for OP, but I’m married. We’re not a young couple and we have a very laid back trusting relationship. My husband never questions anything I do because I am a very independent person, but if I suddenly decided I was staying at a hotel 30 minutes away and asking him not to come? He’d say sure but he’d also probably ask me why, and I wouldn’t blame him for asking. I know for some couples lots of time away and independence is normal, but I think for a lot of couples that would ping weird for reasons that aren’t unfounded jealousy or immaturity.

              2. AMT*

                I wonder if everyone else is getting a hotel room, maybe in the same block of rooms, and unofficially continuing the festivities at the hotel after the “official” party concludes. That would make more sense than OP’s wife not wanting to make a half-hour trip home.

                1. MashaKasha*

                  That’s a def possibility. The “official” party venue very possibly will close early (11?12?) and kick them all out.

                2. AnonyMoose*

                  We did that at one of my old jobs! It was a blast. It was at a swaky LA hotel and we had spent so much $ for the party that they comped us a handful of rooms, and I happen to lay claim to one. It was soooooo nice to go back and order room service and take a bath. It was like a little christmas gift from work!

                3. L McD*

                  …and the fact that she hasn’t clarified this with the OP miiiiight be informed by their general attitude towards the entire situation. Even if they haven’t directly expressed their grievances to the wife, I’m sure she’s picked up on it. “I don’t want to sober up and drive home” still sounds better than “we’re all going back to party at a hotel” if you already know that your spouse is suspicious (regardless of whether you plan to do anything nefarious at all).

              3. Laurel Gray*

                I think when these kinds of letters come up, people tend to project their own standards into the mix. I don’t think it is unreasonable (see, here I am projecting) for the OP to see some red flags in all of this (going off his version of events). Good luck OP

                1. McAnonypants*

                  There could be any number of reasons OP is seeing red flags- maybe this is really out of character for his wife, maybe they’re just not explaining well why they’re concerned.

                  …but the bit about “she thinks this is acceptable behavior” is a pretty gross phrase no matter how I try to reframe OP’s letter.

                2. kac*

                  I think you’re right, that we read our own lives into this situation. The reason I’m … suspicious of the OP is because of his passive aggressive response to the situation so far. If my husband was going to do something that made me uncomfortable, he wouldn’t have to guess because I was making strange faces. I’d just calmly tell him, “This makes me uncomfortable, because of x. Can we do y instead?”

                  The fact that he hasn’t communicated his discomfort, yet is so upset he’s writing to advice columnists on the internet and is claiming his wife’s plans are “unacceptable,” makes me think he’s overall being quite immature. His initial concerns may or may not be reasonable, but his reaction strikes me as a real problem.

                3. Ted Mosby*

                  To be fair, this column is a lot of people writing to ask Alison what to say or how to phrase a complaint, because she’s awesome at it and talking can be hard. I feel that what OP is missing is that nothing about this is really a work related issue. Your wife wants to get a hotel room after a party, and you’re uncomfortable. Work isn’t really relevant.

                4. Effective Immediately*

                  I think the striking thing for me is that we see so many of these letters for men about their wives, but we rarely (if ever) have a wife write in and say, “My husband went to lunch with his FEMALE colleague! With BEVERAGES! And she wants to go to a holiday party UNACCOMPANIED!”

                  Maybe it is my work experience informing my point of view here, but “she thinks this is acceptable behavior” and the weirdness about not be able to accompany her to an office party has a little controlling tinge to it.

                  It’s possible that none of this is about gender, but if this conversation were happening in person, I’d be giving OP4 some major side-eye.

              4. Chocolate lover*

                Personally, it’s not a red flag for me, though I know some people might think so. True my husband isn’t likely to do that for a work event, but he sure as heck would do it (and has done it) for a concert and hanging out with his friends. If he wants to have a fun night out that doesn’t include me , he can go right ahead. I have fun nights out without him, too. That’s of course acknowledging that we do have fun outings together, if he were ignoring me all the time, that would be a larger problem.

                Picking him up wouldn’t be an option since I don’t drive, and a cab to/from some place half hour away may very well cost more than a hotel , especially if coworkers are possibly sharing rooms. I’m not interested in hanging out in a hotel room waiting for him, and as long as our mutual financial goals are met, he can spend his money however he likes. Go forth and enjoy!

              5. BananaPants*

                To me it depends on the time of the evening the party would end. If it’s over at 7 PM I’d have no problem hauling the kids to the car and driving to pick him up – but not so much if it’s at 11 PM. There is no viable public transportation system in our area and taxis are expensive.

                We don’t have the room in our budget for a hotel room, so I’d *personally* find it disrespectful to have to cut funds from elsewhere so he could drink like a fish and then crash in a hotel room overnight without me. He’s a grownup and even if his coworkers are getting plastered, he’s capable of having one drink or no booze at all and still being safe to drive himself home; no one is MAKING him drink to excess. So yeah, I would find it a red flag for him to want a hotel room a half hour from home.

                That said, that’s the situation for me and my marriage and I don’t presume to speak for others on what would and wouldn’t constitute a red flag. Based on the language used I suspect that OP has other issues in the relationship.

            2. april ludgate*

              I agree that the hotel room doesn’t seem odd. A cab might not necessarily be an option, depending on where they live. For example, in my town there’s a cab. One cab (and no uber yet). All my friends who don’t live in walking distance of downtown are on a first name basis with the cab driver and it can take forever for him to come pick you up. But there are several hotels that you can walk to downtown, so if there was a big party and everyone didn’t want to coordinate with the cab to get rides home, it would definitely make sense to plan ahead to stay over night.

              1. Not the Droid You Are Looking For*

                Yup. Pre-uber in my city you could find yourself waiting hours for a cab that said they would be there in 15 minutes.

                Then upon hearing where you are going (anywhere outside the 5 mile downtown zone) decline your fare.

                1. Erin*

                  Hey, just wanted to say, after enduring a 16 hour Star Wars marathon over the weekend, I now understand your user name. And other references I’ve been missing for years. :)

                2. Book Person*

                  Enduring for the prequel films, and immensely enjoying for the Original Trilogy, even? Now, important question: did you watch them in series order or in theatrical release order?

              2. MashaKasha*

                Yeah, I live in the near-ish suburbs of a large metro area and I’ve never seen a cab out in the suburbs. I imagine if they do come that far out, they’ll probably charge a fortune.

                Alternately, maybe the party center is in a high-crime area, where you don’t want to be standing outside in the middle of the night waiting for a cab. Hard to tell without knowing the location.

                1. AnonyMoose*

                  It’s like that in the Vegas suburbs too. SO many people I know that live there got DUIs as a rite of passage (I do not condone it, am not in that camp myself….but it’s a true story).

                2. Book Person*

                  I live in [smallish town] that’s only 30-40 minutes from [major city], and depending on the cab company it’s $100-200 one way for the trip, since the cabs technically can only pick up fares in one direction instead of poaching fares from the other city. A hotel would be much less expensive for me if I were going out to a party, even if I was only going to have one or two drinks and not get plastered.

          3. Doriana Gray*

            I too was going to suggest OP pick up the wife, but then again, maybe wife didn’t ask because her company (like mine does every year) has the party on a weeknight and she didn’t want OP having to get out of bed to come get her if he has to work the next day? I also agree with everyone else that there’s not a lot to go on in the letter so we’re left to speculate about these things like Mike C said.

            1. Nancypie*

              Also, I was thinking that mYbe they have young kids, which would make it very inconvenient for OP to drive to pick her up after the kids were in bed, etc.

              1. Doriana Gray*

                Another possibility, though if kids were a factor, I think that should have (and probably would have) been the crux of the question.

            2. One of the Sarahs*

              Yes, and also the days of having to leave a party while you’re having fun because a grumpy person is ready to pick you up, and resents you being there in the first place, is something best left behind in teenage years…

              1. MashaKasha*

                Haha yeah.

                One company party that I did bring my spouse to, he sat through the entire party with a gloomy look on his face, asking me every 15 minutes, “can we go now? can we go now?” I’d picked him up for the party, because his work was halfway between our house and the party center. Unbeknownst to me, he’d left his car in a parking garage that closed at a ridiculously early time like 9. We had to run out of that party at 8:30 to make it to the garage before it closed. It was a really cool party, but I admit I didn’t have fun, it felt like I’d dragged my 3 year old to a work party with me.

          4. AnotherAlison*

            Or a cab.

            I don’t really see a reason for the lack of trust from the OP, but if he has offered to pick his wife up or call a cab for her, and she is insistent on getting a hotel room, then I may be more concerned she’s up to something.

              1. neverjaunty*

                Oh, some people do this as a way of gaslighting. “How can you think I’m cheating on you? Look how totally open I am about the perfectly reasonable things I am doing!” (which are actually not all that reasonable)

          5. Cat like that*

            “but booking a hotel room is a little more unusual without concrete logistical reasons”

            Is it really? My company has reserved a room block in the hotel next to the venue where our holiday party will be held. The venue is in an area with lots of bars and live entertainment (of the musical, sports, and adult variety), so people are probably going to be out until the wee hours. Trying to flag down a cab at that hour to drive you out of the city is a pain in the butt– and I think “pain in the but” is a concrete enough logistical reason. If my house wasn’t a 20 minute walk from the venue I’d grab a hotel room.

          6. Cat like that*

            “but booking a hotel room is a little more unusual without concrete logistical reasons”

            Is it really? My company has reserved a room block in the hotel next to the venue where our holiday party will be held. The venue is in an area with lots of bars and live entertainment (of the musical, sports, and adult variety), so people are probably going to be out until the wee hours. Trying to flag down a cab at that hour to drive you out of the city is a pain in the butt– and I think “pain in the butt” is a concrete enough logistical reason. If my house wasn’t a 20 minute walk from the venue I’d grab a hotel room.

            1. Anna*

              That sounds like reasons that would fall under “logistical” and not everyone will take your company up on it, still.

          7. MashaKasha*

            I thought of it, but then they’d have to come back the next day and get her car, and the place is an hour away… Although, if OP4 were my husband, I’d be, “if that’s what makes you happy, go for it. I’ll call you sometime after midnight to come get me.”

          8. Sunflower*

            Most Christmas parties I’ve been to have an official end time and everyone heads to a bar to continue an after party until however late so it’s possible OP doesn’t know what time people will head home and doesn’t want to be stuck waiting for her husband or a cab.

            Other possibilities-
            – The hotel is attached to the restaurant/near and it isn’t in a city center. Getting cabs in the burbs is annoying as heck.
            – If the hotel is in the same town/city where OP’s wife works, it might make more sense to stay in a hotel and be closer to work the next morning so she can get some extra shut eye after a long night
            – Depending where she is, some hotels, esp if the company sets up a block, are really cheap- cheaper than a cab.

            I’ve been to weddings and such in the burbs and we usually end up staying in the hotel as opposed to taking a cab back to the city because it’s just the most convenient option. I don’t really think there’s anything that weird about this.

          9. neverjaunty*

            Some business do this to avoid the risk of an employee driving drunk (and thus liability). If everyone stays at a hotel, nobody drives drunk.

          10. Koko*

            I would agree with others that the tone of the letter suggests some trouble in the relationships, but I would also agree with those who are saying it would be reasonable for him to be concerned about her getting a hotel instead of coming home.

            As a single person that’s absolutely what I would do, even if the round-trip cab ride was cheaper, because I would much much prefer to have a short walk to my bed after a night of drinking instead of a 30-minute cab ride. And I know a lot of married couples who often travel apart from each other.

            But I also know a lot of married couples who have pretty much never spent a night apart since they got married. And their relationships aren’t unhealthy or codependent, they’re just close in that way and it’s what works for them and makes them happy.

        2. One of the Sarahs*

          I’d much rather my partner was safe and warm in a nice hotel room, than waiting somewhere cold and alone for a cab, and I live in a big city, but I do understand YMMV.

        3. Oryx*

          I live midtown of a major metro city. 30 minutes to get from one side of the city to the other is pretty normal. That said, my parents live in the ‘burbs, about half an hour away, and whenever I go to visit, that 30 minutes feels like it takes forever.

          So, I guess what I’m saying is, depending where I live in relationship to the party and if I know that I’m going to want to stay out/up late and not worry about trying to get home, I can totally see myself getting a hotel room for a place that is *only* half an hour away.

        4. jmkenrick*

          I think it’s a bit of a personality thing. Some people are more social and really enjoy partying. I’m not that type, but I have been to holiday parties that lasted until the wee hours of the morning (as well as holiday parties that didn’t invite spouses) and I can understand the certain party-lover who would prefer to have a room booked rather than have to worry about transportation at 2am.

          That said, if it’s really out-of-character for the wife, maybe that’s a sign. Either way, it’s not really a work issue, it’s a personal one.

        5. S*

          Yes, but there is a difference between asking her ‘would you like me to come pick you up instead?’ and saying ‘she thinks this is acceptable behavior.’ One is treating her like an adult equal, and one like she’s their five year old kid.

          1. kac*

            Yes! Thank you! I mentioned this up-thread, but the “red-flags” as I see them are in the OPs language and passive aggressive tactics. If my husband was planning something that made me uncomfortable, I wouldn’t be making displeased faces and silently judging and writing to loosely-related internet advice blogs–I’d have a conversation with him! “X makes me uncomfortable. Can we do Y instead?”

        6. Ezri*

          I can see situations where the hotel room would be reasonable. I work near a large city where traffic is a nightmare, especially on weekend nights when people are going out and there are events. If I worked in the city and had an office party at night in the city, I’d probably consider getting a hotel room and getting picked up in the morning or taking the train. A half hour away from home means husband would have to drive an hour through traffic to pick me up, and I wouldn’t expect him to do that unless it was necessary.

          Are there cheaper options? Probably. But we know people don’t always choose the cheapest option, and that isn’t wrong in and of itself. And like Mike C says above, it seems like the evening plans are secondary to relationship factors that we don’t have the full story on.

          1. Koko*

            He’d also have to drive in probably worse traffic for probably more in the morning to drop her off! Either that morning so she doesn’t have to leave her car overnight, or the next morning so she can drive it home the next day.

          2. Lindsay J*

            This. I live 20 minutes away from my job with no traffic, but it’s about an hour +/- with traffic (the joys of living in Houston).

            If I had an excuse to book a hotel for the night and avoid the 2 hours of traffic (1 hour home, 1 hour into work the next day) I would jump at the chance.

        7. INTP*

          In a lot of the US, a hotel could be around the same price as the two taxi rides (since she can’t drive and leave her car), and that way she has the benefit of sleeping in, not worrying about leaving at the specific time she told the cab company, etc. She may also need a night to herself, and staying in a hotel can be fun.

        8. Abby*

          It might be a regional/industry thing, but booking a hotel even when you’re less than an hour away from the venue isn’t all that unusual, from what I’ve seen. My husband’s company usually reserved a block of rooms for employees to book on the night of the party– and many of the attendees only lived 20-30 minutes away from the venue. Considering these parties were open bar and easily ran past 10PM, being able to stumble into a hotel room for the night instead of organizing a ride back (30 minutes doesn’t seem that close, particularly on a cold night while inebriated) doesn’t seem like a bad idea.

          1. INTP*

            This is true too. I organized a Christmas party at a restaurant that was connected to a a popular tourist hotel. We reserved a block of rooms predominantly for the employees working at a major client a couple of hours away, but the rate was also available to local employees, and many took advantage of it just to avoid trying to get home late and tipsy and enjoy the novelty of a hotel.

        9. JB (not in Houston)*

          IDK, every person is different of course, but I’d much rather stay in a hotel room if I’ve been drinking than trust a strange taxi driver for a half hour drive, or trust that I can not get sick in the cab (I get cab sick, and being a bit tipsy + 30 minute cab drive is a bad idea), and sometimes when I’ve been drinking I hit a point when I just want to get in bed as soon as possible. Getting a hotel made all kinds of sense to me.

        10. Sarah*

          It does depend on area. Where I live, it routinely costs me $100 plus tip to get a one-way taxi ride from the airport to my home 30 minutes away on the freeway, and a cheap hotel is not much more than that… $130 before tax, perhaps? Combined with the difficulty of getting a cab late at night or the possibility of needing *two* cab rides to either get to the party in the first place or to go pick up my car wherever I’d left it parked the next day, if I knew I would be in no fit state to drive after a long party (due to alcohol OR sleepiness) I would definitely consider a hotel room overnight. The extra $30 could potentially be worth the convenience of not having to travel late at night while exhausted, too.

          And as someone else mentioned, I would think it was very strange for my partner to ask to go with me if they weren’t invited to the party. If I thought it was an innocent request, I’d wonder what they were planning to do while I was out having fun and worry that they’d be bored; if I thought they were asking out of jealousy, I’d almost certainly refuse to share the room with them, though I’d say so as nicely as possible.

      2. Racheon*

        I agree, and from the tone of his letter, i half wondered if she’s looking forward to having a night out on her own and a break from him. I love my boyfriend to bits, but it’s good to have time apart every now and then to remember you’re seperate people. Plus he can be a bit of a wet blanket from time to time ;)

        And yeah, I’ve had plenty of evening work things where spouses weren’t invited, it doesn’t seem that unusual to me.

        1. Traveler*

          This is totally possible. I’d still be upfront with my SO though that that’s what I wanted so it didn’t seem so strange.

        2. Cucumberzucchini*

          I love sleeping in a bed by myself. I’m a troubled sleeper and it’s not a slight to my husband. But he gets his feelings hurt that I prefer to sleep by myself. I’d jump at the chance to sleep in a hotel room away from the dogs and have a bed all to myself.

          1. Dr. Johnny Fever*

            This is my guilty pleasure when I have business travel – no snoring in my ear, no cats crawling on me, no random flushes in the night. 4 nights of heaven.

      3. MashaKasha*

        Actually, now I come to think about it, I do remember one particular Christmas work event where the manager’s partner keep phoning her every five minutes, and waiting around outside venues we were in, because he refused to believe we were where she had told him we were.

        I got into hot water once, early in my marriage. My coworkers and I went out to celebrate my 25th and my boss’s 40th. It was a small town in a very wooded area, so we had a cookout/bbq type of thing in the woods, and then after it got dark, we went to one of our coworkers’ apartment for more partying. One of our coworkers’ FIL, who also lived in our town, died that evening, so he did not join us obviously.

        I come home at two AM to an empty apartment. That was before cell phones, or any phones. (not in the US either). I had no idea where my husband was. He storms in ten minutes later and starts yelling at me, accusing me of lying, and demanding to know where I had really been. I am puzzled and have no idea what on earth he’s yelling about. Finally found out after a few days of him giving me the silent treatment.

        Come to find out, around 11, he went looking for me. Went to our meeting place in the woods, but we were already gone. He then decided he’d try to find my coworkers. No one had any phones, and the only address my husband knew was that of the bereaved coworker. He went there, coworker’s son answered the door, and said that “Dad came home at 9 and went straight to bed.” I will leave you guys to guess all the things my husband imagined re my whereabouts that night. My coworkers started inviting my husband to all of our parties after that, because they thought his reaction was cute.

        My husband had an excuse though. He was 24 and newly married. He was not SUPPOSED to know how to think straight just yet. Was your manager’s partner also 24?

        1. neverjaunty*

          …that’s not really an excuse for throwing a tantrum and then three days of the silent treatment.

        2. Marzipan*

          No, he was a grown man. I suspect his reason for not trusting her had something to do with the fact that it later turned out he was carrying on with at least two other women unbeknownst to her, and therefore assumed she’d be similarly unfaithful given the slightest opportunity.

          1. Cactus*

            Generally how the way things go with cheaters. They project whatever they’re doing onto their partner to throw the other person off balance because the cheater thinks it’ll make them less likely to catch on.

    2. BizzieLizzie*

      OP4 – As background I am a lady in her 40’s & normal looking, not a dazzling young thing by any stretch of the imagine, but in-theory not beyond been ‘chatted up’ socially (on a rare blue moon).
      I’m also a bit of an introvert by nature & not a huge fan of big dos.

      I went to our works Christmas party last week – intending to slip away at 11pm, and ended up staying out until 4am and having a fantastic time.
      I then went back to my hotel room.

      Nothing unsavoury – just good fun, chatting & dancing. Really glad to have had the flexibility to do this as I rarely socialise with my colleagues, and there are some colleagues I speak with frequently but rarely see in person. If I’d booked a taxi & left at 11pm I’d have missed a lot of bonding & a lot of fun.

      If my partner raised an eyebrow at this I would be horrified, and find it slightly controlling. If its 1 night – try to let it go, of course I hope your wife would accord you the same understanding.

      1. Oryx*

        This is what I’m thinking — she knows the party is going to run late, or they go to a bar for an after party type situation, etc., and she doesn’t want to be driving home at 4 am because 1) she’ll be drunk or 2) she’ll be too tired.

      2. Stranger than fiction*

        That’s a great point, and that may be her intention. But the Op is concerned for some reason he’s not quite expressing. I’m wondering if it’s the “rowdy” coworkers he’s concerned with? Like, maybe he thinks they’ll offer to “walk” his drunk wife back to her room and try to take advantage or something. But it that’s the case, why isn’t he just telling her, whatever his actual concerns are? Seems like a communication issue to me.

        1. MashaKasha*

          So he basically maybe thinks that his wife’s coworkers, in 2015, are going to try to rape her after an office party and then show up at work the next day/next Monday like nothing happened. Because TBH that’s what “taking advantage” is, right? That would be quite a stretch of imagination. I can’t think of anyone reckless enough to do that in our day and age. Back in the 70s/80s, yeah maybe possibly. Now? no way.

          I agree though, communication seems to be lacking here.

            1. MashaKasha*

              I stand corrected, not “no way”, but I’d say still “highly unlikely”. The consequences will be terrible and people know it… with a coworker, no less.

              And, either way, like you’ve mentioned in another comment downthread, even if, heaven forbid, something like that happens, it will not be her fault.

              1. AnonEMoose*

                Unfortunately, not as unlikely as you’d think. Because what would happen is that questions such as “well, why did (Woman) get drunk?” “why did she allow him to walk her back to her hotel room?” and all that other victim blaming stuff would be asked. And the guy would swear up and down that she totally consented at the time, and is just having regrets…and chances are decent that he’d get away with it.

                That said, I’m still less than comfortable with the OP. He does come across as rather controlling, and that bothers me a lot.

          1. Koko*

            I worked for a company where that exact thing happened just a few years ago. The assailant was not fired, either.

            1. MashaKasha*

              Wow that is sad and terrible. I recently kind of witnessed something like that happening, in a situation where you’d think a guy would get away with it (college party, everyone was drunk) and he got what he deserved. There was a huge reaction, the victim was taken 100% seriously, at one point police came into the apartment where the party had taken place, with guns out and a search warrant… I naively thought this meant that times are changing. Very sad to see from these comments that it’s not the case.

          2. sunny-dee*

            We had someone post a comment a few months ago that that very thing happened at a work conference — the (same-sex) person she was sharing a room with sexually assaulted her. I don’t think that’s really what the OP means, but it is not unheard of. (And, just to point out, I had a friend in college who was sexually assaulted by a classmate and saw him the next day in class and in the cafeteria. So … yeah, if a guy is that messed up, it’s not unreasonable to think he wouldn’t feel any shame or fear the next day.)

          3. Jenn*

            Unfortunately, something like that happened at one of our work events over the summer. Someone drove the other home and came back the next day as if nothing happened. The other person ended up being out for a week.

            That being said, from reading the OP’s letter, that doesn’t sound like the issue as much as he doesn’t trust his wife.

    3. Lindrine*

      It could be that her company has a negotiated rate with the hotel, making it a particularly good deal. I had a chance to snag a (free!) hotel room in the major city where our annual company event was being held. It was great to have a chance to catch up with co-workers and not worry about driving home in traffic after the evening events. Also, we have kids so it was like a mini vacation for me. I told my spouse I was able to snag the room and since it was an employee only event, it would just be me hogging that 4 star room alllll to myself. He was thrilled I would have a chance to relax.

      I don’t want to pile on your OP #4, but please talk to your spouse. Her having a relaxing overnight can be a great break from routine.

    4. MashaKasha*

      My last job had employee-only after-work parties three years in a row. My then-husband is capable of getting jealous over nothing, but it never occurred to him to get suspicious just because the party is employee-only. It’s a thing that happens, not very infrequently. His work events have all been employee-only as well, but that might be because they’re a govt. company and need to limit their costs. I’ve never been suspicious of that, either. I think I don’t get what exactly OP4’s issue is regarding this. Does OP4 think his wife’s company is deliberately planning an orgy? Does he think his wife made it up about the party being employee only?

    5. Artemesia*

      While I agree that this is a relationship thing with big red flags, I do think that an evening party where so much drinking goes on that you need to get a room is, well, icky and inappropriate. And if you don’t trust your wife having her getting drunk and a hotel room has got to be nervous making.

      1. The Artist Formally Known As UKAnon*

        “And if you don’t trust your wife having her getting drunk and a hotel room has got to be nervous making.”

        But why? I mean, if you don’t trust your wife, having her go to work every day has got to be nervous making. As has having her stay at home alone. As has her doing anything at all whatsoever.

        1. JB (not in Houston)*

          Yes, this. If your spouse isn’t worthy of being trusted, they don’t have to be drunk to do things that make you nervous.

      2. JB (not in Houston)*

        Why? I’m not a big drinker and wouldn’t to spend a whole evening with drunk coworkers, but I can’t say that a work culture where people stay up late drinking and then don’t want to bother with getting a cab 30 minutes home is “icky and inappropriate.”

      3. MashaKasha*

        There doesn’t need to be all that much drinking for people to prefer to get a room afterwards. I wouldn’t trust myself to drive after two drinks, these days… Two drinks is far from icky and inappropriate.

        1. Lindrine*

          I was not drunk at the event where I had the hotel room but whoohoo free nice hotel room for the night.

      4. irritable vowel*

        “I do think that an evening party where so much drinking goes on that you need to get a room is, well, icky and inappropriate.”

        I kind of agree with this. While I trust my husband 100% (and I do think that trust is an issue for the OP, given his language), I would be giving my husband some crap if he thought getting so wasted with his coworkers that he needed to get a hotel room after the company party was okay. It just seems inappropriate for a work-related event. By all means, I would want him to go out and have a good time, but not so much so that he couldn’t sober up enough to drive home at a reasonable hour. If he were going out with his college buddies or something, that would be a different story.

        1. BananaPants*

          I agree. I would be pretty pissed off if my husband thought it was a good idea to get sloshed with coworkers and crash in a hotel room while I was at home tending to the kids. If one of us is going to have an evening of acting like we did as college students with no responsibilities, then I’d want it to be together or with actual friends – not with coworkers. For him to go ahead and use his company party as his “fun” time to that extent would feel disrespectful of me and the mutual choices we’ve made on priorities.

          I never have and never will get drunk with my coworkers or at a work function – getting trashed and potentially acting like a fool is a career mistake that senior management is NOT forgiving of. I have one drink at our company holiday party, wait a full hour to make sure I’m safe to drive, and call it an evening. These kinds of crazy company parties are completely foreign to me.

          1. MashaKasha*

            Yeah but having young kids to take care of is a temporary condition, kids grow up, stop requiring adult supervision, move out, and it all happens a lot faster than we parents expect. I agree that, if there is a lot of work to be done at home, like taking care of small children, then yes it’s not cool for one partner to waltz off with the coworkers, fishing buddies etc. and dump all the work on the other. But OP never mentions any kids, pets, elderly parents etc that he and his wife both have to take care of 24×7, so I really don’t think that this is the case with him. He just doesn’t want her to stay in a hotel, because he thinks it’s inappropriate or unacceptable or whatnot.

          2. Gaara*

            I agree with this too. The idea that coworkers all need to go out, without spouses, and get too drunk to drive or stay out until it’s too late to drive is just… ew.

            Like, are you grown-ups or college kids?

            OP #4 and his wife need to be able to communicate better and figure out if they trust each other or what’s going on, but this whole office party thing just in general sounds sketch (and juvenile) as hell to me.

            1. Zillah*

              I agree with all of you. It’s not that I feel the need to accompany my partner to every social and/or work event, but the “let’s get hammered yeahhhh” really makes me uncomfortable when grown adults do it. I have fun going out with friends, but really?

          3. KMS1025*

            completely agree with party and no plus one isn’t abnormal, but hotel room 30 minutes from home…kinda weird!!!

        2. Koko*

          I don’t know. For me, it doesn’t take much for me to be too drunk to drive – certainly much less than “so wasted.” I’ll blow over the legal limit somewhere between my 2nd and 3rd drink. And sure, I could sit around for 1-2 hours after I stop drinking waiting until my BAC drops back to a safe level, but I would much rather sleepily walk a block to a hotel room and fall into bed than sleepily wait for 1-2 hours, possibly in the cold after bars have closed if the party went late, waiting to be sober enough to drive my car.

          1. irritable vowel*

            Well, I think there’s a distinction between needing a hotel room and having to switch to water an hour before leaving the party so you can drive home. In your example, if you’re still too drunk to drive when the bars have closed, that isn’t a 2-3 drink night unless the party started at 11 pm. To each their own, of course. But I wouldn’t want to have that much to drink at a company party, and I wouldn’t want my husband drinking that much with coworkers, either.

            1. Liz in a Library*

              Yeah, but the comfort point at which you are willing to drive is different for everyone. Because of how I metabolize alcohol and also the way drunk driving has touched my family, I will not drive at all if I’ve had two drinks. I don’t care if it’s been a couple of hours. I don’t care if I’m 99.9% sure I’m fine. Everyone has a different cut off.

              1. OriginalEmma*

                Yup! My rule is “12 hours from bottle to throttle,” even after one drink. That’s what makes me feel safe and happy, and I arrange my social life around it.

            2. Oryx*

              It’s not a “to each their own,” like it’s a choice, though. I can’t remember the last time I have a 3 drink night because 1 drink is sometimes enough to get me buzzed to the point of knowing I shouldn’t get behind the wheel of a car.

        3. Anna*

          I think it’s really about a company being more safe than sorry. You might drink too much at the party, or you might not. But if the company wants to make sure that no matter what side you fall on, you are less likely to drive home and risk yourself and other people’s lives, it doesn’t read icky and inappropriate at all. It reads responsible to me.

          1. sunny-dee*

            The company is not the one renting the hotel rooms, though — the OP’s wife is. So, it is the wife deciding, on her own, to get so trashed she can’t drive and then not to find alternate ways to make a short trip home.

            1. One of the Sarahs*

              Seriously, 2 drinks is “trashed”? No way! This is why the term “drunk driving” is so wrong – in USA it’s Driving Under the Influence for a reason, only a bit of booze affects driving.

      5. Koko*

        Every place I’ve worked save one (a small, 4-man home business) has had a strong drinking culture. And from what I hear from my vendors, their workplaces are the same way. And in my experience, the more high-pressure or hard-labor the job, the more people drink, so you get it at both ends of the blue-to-white collar spectrum.

        Every place I’ve worked there have been people who opt out of it, and in the good places, there was no consequence or penalty (formal or informal) for opting out of drinking. Some of the places were good about continuing to enforce professional conduct even while hammered (and lo and behold, even drunk people behave when there’s no doubt in their minds that “I was drunk” won’t be accepted as a get-out-of-jail-free card), and others weren’t (and lo and behold, drunk people acted out when they knew management would look the other way because they were drunk).

        But from what I’ve seen, the existence of a heavy drinking culture seems near-universal at least in my city (DC). Which, come to think of it, I think we were recently awarded the title of the drunkest city in America (ironically, we’re also the fittest city in America). So maybe my experience is not typical.

      6. neverjaunty*

        But any amount of drinking can be a problem if employees have to drive afterwards. It’s not necessarily “we’re all going to be too hammered even to walk”, it’s “we don’t want anyone having a couple of drinks, driving home, and then getting pulled over for a DWI.”

        If OP’s wife invited him to meet her at the hotel room afterward, it’s pretty clear that she’s not setting up a booty call with her co-workers, so the hotel can’t really be the issue.

        1. JB (not at Houston)*

          I actually won’t drive if I’ve had *anything* alcoholic to drink that day, no matter how little, no matter how much earlier. If I get stopped for any reason by cops at night, you can bet they will ask if you’ve had anything to drink,* and I want to be able to say no.

          *The usual answer I see defendants give is “two beers.” Sometimes they say one drink, but it’s 2 drinks so often that I expect it. And sometimes it was just two beers, and it was way earlier in the day, and they aren’t at all impaired . . . but they’re still going to jail.

      7. KellyK*

        I think you might be overestimating the amount of drinking it takes to merit not driving. While you can have a beer or two and be within the legal limit, you’re still at least somewhat impaired. You don’t need to get falling-down drunk for not driving to be a good idea.

        That’s not to say nobody will get falling-down drunk at the company party. Who knows? Just that if you’re planning on any more than a single drink early in the night, it’s smartest to plan on not driving.

    6. Bob*

      I agree. This situation might not be the average but it doesn’t strike me as uncommon either.

      On the other hand, my previous job did a similar thing with our yearly awards dinner. Spouses used to be invited but, I assume to cut costs, one year it was announced it was employees only. And it was held in a nice hotel by an airport in a city between our regions so spouses even coming to the city on their own wasn’t a realistic option. You flew in Saturday morning and home Sunday morning/afternoon. Since no spouses were invited, they also made us share rooms with random people of the same sex. My roommate was married and I didn’t see him once until the following morning when he stumbled in reaking of booze and sex. My manager told me so many marriages were broken up that year that spouses were invited back and strongly encouraged to attend the next year. Most of the spouses knew each other so even one or two spouses attending per region tended to keep everyone else in line. As a single person, it was awesome for me because then I got my own room.

    7. L McD*

      Yeah, there is some serious….oddness going on here. And I’m not talking about the wife getting a hotel room.

      Why write into a career and workplace advice site about what is essentially a personal issue?

      Why tag innocuous behavior as either “acceptable” or “unacceptable?”

      Why ruminate on this issue to the point where it makes sense to write into an advice columnist, without discussing it with the only other person whose opinion actually matters in the equation – the wife?

      OP obviously needs to discuss whatever their concerns are with their wife. If we can’t figure out exactly what they’re afraid might happen, even after they’ve tried to lay it out, their wife almost certainly has no idea. Hopefully the comments will at least assure them that this isn’t by default an odd situation or odd behavior – while some of their concerns might be justified, acting as if their wife should JUST KNOW that this isn’t okay? That’s pretty unreasonable. Everyone has different standards, different comfort levels, etc…and relationships take compromise.

  2. Turanga Leela*

    OP #4, I second Alison’s advice—this is not that weird, and if you don’t trust your wife, that’s an issue to address separately. If you do trust your wife, and this situation just grates on you for some reason, I really don’t recommend going with her to the hotel. You’ll just be waiting there with nothing to do while she’s at the dinner; it’ll leave you feeling grumpy and her feeling pressured to leave. Make plans of your own that night instead. Go out with friends or indulge in your favorite alone-in-the-house secret behavior (which for me would involve mac and cheese and a vintage Law & Order marathon).

  3. SCR*

    #1 — Make clear to your boss the workload it’ll add to your week / day to cover this and maybe they’ll give you the go-ahead to bump things to the next day or work with you on coverage to make sure you can attend. Surely they understand what a burden this is, but maybe haven’t thought it through. It sucks for morale to have everyone else go off to the party and for a select few to have to remain behind to do essential, time-sensitive tasks.

    And I’m totes in the same boat… except ours is off-site, it’s a mandatory EOY team building activity / party. And it’s tomorrow and was officially announced yesterday. We’re talking tug of war, raft building, giant Jenga, etc. Per the invite. And a water park element and we can bring our suits if we want to. This is the Middle East so it’s hot here now — things are generally extremely disorganized as well so this is just a symptom. But yeah, this is a crucial time for projects and clients aren’t exactly happy with the fact that we’ll be out all day tomorrow. I’m a director so I’m pretty much obligated to go and be positive about it and encourage my team to participate but the stress on everyone’s face today makes me feel like it’s not gonna have the intended effect of unity and positivity among the team.

    1. Meg Murry*

      OP #1, are you the only person doing tech support? If there are more people in the department than just you, can you each take turns taking twenty minutes to an hour or so to pop in to the party?

      I understand not wanting to just shut down tech support in the middle of a workday, but what do your clients do now if you are off sick or have to attend a meeting? Is someone else (your manager? A parallel coworker?) cross trained enough that they could triage any calls that come in, and take down enough information that you can get back to them when you return in an hour or so?

      I had meant to comment on this type of situation on the “how to ruin morale” post yesterday – don’t decide to just close the office for a few hours for a party when that just means salaried staff will have to work extra in the days before/after the closure to make up for being out of the office. I worked in an office that let everyone leave early on the day of the Christmas party (party was after work, but people wanted time to change, check on kids/pets etc before going) but several years in a row the bosses committed to major project deadlines being due just after the party (or one year on that day). The bosses would not allow us to give the hourly staff overtime or to push back the deadline with the client, and it meant that we were working late every night that week and the next to make up for the lost hours.

      So yes, OP#1, I think you should see if you can get some coverage so you can pop in to the party (assuming you want to go) but no one should look down on you for not attending the whole 4 hours. But your manager shouldn’t just leave you to hold down the fort all by yourself and go to the party for 4 hours either.

      1. The Cosmic Avenger*

        This is very much what I was going to say. We have plenty of people who rotate in and out of any on-site party, and they tend to load up their plate, chat for a while, then take their plate back to their desk. And since some of us are client-facing, we do cover for each other to make sure that everyone has a chance to go.

        1. OP#1*

          Since the party’s going to be off-site, that’s not really practical, but I might be able to make a quick appearance at the very end, and just make up the work from home.

      2. OP#1*

        Funny story, our department is incredibly short-handed and we don’t have a manager right now. There’s only three of us supporting around 500 users, so we’re already super stressed and morale is low. Right now, when we’re sick or have to attend a meeting (or eating dinner, or asleep, or commuting…) our clients generally complain that we’re not available – some more than others. We just don’t have enough people to prevent gaps in service from happening.

        1. Stranger than fiction*

          Ugh. That sucks. Is the Support 24/7? Not that it can happen in time for this year’s party, but does your company/department have some of the most common issues on its website that users can troubleshoot some of these things on their own? If not, maybe this coming year y’all can create one.

          1. OP#1*

            Oh boy, you’ve hit upon one of my #1 pet peeves about this job. We have a wide variety of meticulously detailed guides that we update every time there is even a minor change. NO ONE READS THEM. I have to email them the PDF with specific directions (eg. “For this issue, please look at steps 4-9 on page 3.”) They just prefer live support. But that’s a whole other rant :)

        2. The Cosmic Avenger*

          Wow, that sucks, OP. I’m sorry you and your coworkers are being subjected to that. It’s really the responsibility of whoever is (was?) your manager’s boss to fix it, not yours. If anything, they should be making sure you can go to the party as a way of thanking you for keeping it together while you’re understaffed!

          1. KMS1025*

            completely agree with this…mismanagement shouldn’t require over-compensating workload for employees. one question though for op1 – is it really that you just don’t want to socialize with these folks??? if you were sick or on vacation, somehow the work would get done…why is this party different???

    2. BananaPants*

      I missed the company holiday party my first year of working here because tests needed to get done. I sat at my cubicle doing work while hearing the music and noise of the party coming through the floor. My boss at the time didn’t even think that I’d skip it in order to get work done but he also never said that it was OK to bump deliverables out a day or two. We were just as slammed the next year but he made sure I went downstairs and got a beer and some food and hung out for a half hour with coworkers.

    1. Myrin*

      Apart from the wording – “accepable behavior”, really? – this also comes across as super patronising. Like “She thinks this is acceptable, can you believe this? Obviously I know better!”. Or like a spouse absolutely cannot accept their wife staying in a hotel ever, what foolery is this? The word “accept” becomes weirder and weirder in my head the more I think about this, tbh.

      1. Oryx*

        Yes, thank you. Something about the use of the word “accept” was bothering me, but I couldn’t put it into words.

        1. Stranger than fiction*

          Yeah, now that I think about it, that’s a bit troublesome choice of words there. And the fact that they don’t just tell each other how they’re felling about this whole thing, is not sitting quite right with me. Doesn’t sound like a married couple to me, sounds like two people that have just begun dating.

          1. Oryx*

            Yes, the lack of context or reasoning is troublesome as well. “She thinks this is acceptable behavior.” Full stop, nothing more, as if we are all going to just agree with him without anything else.

            I think it’s acceptable behavior too, at least with the limited information you’ve given me so without more I’m not really sure what the issue is.

      2. The Cosmic Avenger*

        I think it’s because “acceptable” is completely subjective because it’s overly vague; it just refers to the prevailing opinion at the time without any specific judgement, or in other words, what the majority of people will find acceptable. People often do this when they don’t want to expose their reasoning to scrutiny. The OP doesn’t say he finds it unsavory or rowdy or licentious, which could be refuted or at least discussed, he just makes it obvious that he thinks it’s unacceptable without further reasons. Stating that something is “unacceptable” or “not done” can be used as a way of cutting off any discussion or dissent.

        1. OriginalEmma*

          It’s a type of word usage that puts her on trial for a jury who’s already decided their decision and whom she can never sway. Like calling a woman crazy or unreasonable.

      3. Elizabeth West*

        I didn’t care much for that either—but it also annoys me that we have no context for this. Are they religious? Has the wife been going on and on about a coworker? Does the OP have trust issues because of something that happened before, or even before he met his wife? Does he work in a job where he has literally never come across this and is genuinely bewildered, like “How is this a thing?”

        I’m dying here. I want more info!

        1. Laurel Gray*

          EW, whenever these types of letters come up I too am dying for more context and hope the OP actively posts with us. How about the guy a few weeks ago worried about his wife and her boss having wine at lunch (and his Miss Marple friends capturing it all)….he updates us with gyno results waaaay later!

          1. MashaKasha*

            Hah, true. For example, whatever happened at that dinner? How does one go from “yeah you can join me in the hotel room” to “I just reserved that hotel room and you cannot come” with nothing in between?

            1. Koko*

              I’m guessing from his paraphrasing (“she basically excluded me”) that it’s quite likely he never actually said he wanted to join her, so she assumed he wasn’t and she probably just was talking about her plan to go to the hotel and how much she was going to enjoy rolling around in the king size bed by herself or something, and he interpreted that as her passive-aggressively “basically excluding him.”

            2. Observer*

              My thought was that she just decided to go ahead without his “permission” and didn’t book a double room. It’s hard to blame her – coming from a party to a irate or grumpy spouse is not something I’d be very happy about.

            3. Not So NewReader*

              Yeah, we missed part of the story there. Something happened. Maybe OP’s body language or lack of communication triggered that response. Or maybe it had nothing to do with OP. But something definitely happened and is missing from the story line.

          2. neverjaunty*

            Hey, I get being interested in how this turns out and wanting a LW to have a happy ending, but …. these aren’t HBO specials, these are real people writing in with real problems and asking AAM for help. They’re not writing in to feed our need for a good story.

            1. Laurel Gray*

              When a letter like #4 is written using the language it uses leaving out context that is very necessary in understanding the issue at hand what happens? Comments with a bunch of assumptions and conclusion jumping. So yes, it is good when OP’s provide context up front or shortly after the letter is posted. FWIW, I think being entertained is part of what makes and keeps people “regulars” here.

              1. neverjaunty*

                There’s a difference between ‘not enough context’ and ‘oooh, I wanna know what happens next’!

    2. The Artist Formally Known As UKAnon*

      All these silly little women with their silly little notions about propriety and what’s ok nowadays.

    3. knitchic79*

      Ick yeah that’s very strange word choice. Also why does her going ahead and booking a room mean you can’t go? I’ve never booked a hotel that didn’t count a couple as one person.

      1. Lily*

        I would strongly discourage him from going. Because:

        – if I was the wife, I would not be happy that someone sat bored in a hotel room while I was out partying, therefore pressuring me to leave early (or deal with the anger of someone who already talk about his wife like she was a five-year-old^^)
        – you show a lot of mistrust. Barring real reasons for it, this is destructive to your relationship (if there are real reasons why you think you can’t trust her, talk about it and maybe don’t stay married with someone who you don’t trust? just saying)
        If I was your wife, I would already be annoyed that you show that much mistrust. If someone insists on coming along with me when I book a hotel room, the relationship would not last any longer after that. Your wife is probably already irritated that you make strange faces when she is exited to go to a party.
        To repair it, you have to show trust. That means **not** going there, sending lot’s of messages, etc.

        1. MashaKasha*

          #1. Soooo true. I took my whole family to a weekend Organization-That-Shall-Not-Be-Named event. The kids had a blast, but my husband never came out of the hotel room. He just stayed there watching TV and looking bored all weekend. I felt terrible for ruining his weekend! So yeah, a few years later, when I started planning a family trip to an annual Org-That-Shall-Not-Be-Named event and the husband was initially “oh no, I don’t want to go” and then “ehhh maaaybe I will join you”, I was “oh no. You shouldn’t come. You won’t have a good time”. Because I was going there to have a good time and to make sure my kids have one too, not to feel guilty and worried about Husband cooped up in a hotel room!
          #2. That worked for us, as well. I realized at some point that my trust in him was lost, and no amount of therapy could bring it back. And I was pretty sure he felt the same. (We’d had a long, mostly bad marriage where a lot of bad things had happened over the years.) One of the reasons why I walked out. We have a much better relationship now than we did when we were married. And I guarantee that we both feel much more safe and secure now than when we were married. A lack of trust can erode a marriage pretty significantly! Not giving any advice or anything, heaven forbid, also just saying!

        2. Laurel Gray*

          A hotel 30 minutes away from the house could mean that he could make plans with his friends or do whatever and meet her there at the end of her festivities for some romance. I just wanted to point out that him going to the hotel but not the party doesn’t necessarily have to mean he is in the hotel waiting on her for hours.

          1. catsAreCool*

            That’s what I was thinking too. He could go out, have dinner or something, maybe catch a movie, then meet her at the hotel.

            But if she said she didn’t want him there, maybe he has kind of blown it by being upset about the hotel in the first place.

  4. Jen RO*

    #4 – If it helps, I’ve never heard of a Christmas party that *did* include spouses. The official reason is that they want coworkers to get to know each other instead of spending time with people they know… the unofficial reason being cost, obviously. And I agree – if it’s *my* company’s Christmas party, why should I pay for the attendance of hundreds of people who don’t work here?

    1. Jen RO*

      I realize my sentence doesn’t really make sense. “Spending time with people they know” should be “spending time with people they already know well”. (Or something like that, it’s a bit too early for me!)

    2. The RO-Cat*

      Yeah, I’ve seen a lot less +1 parties than employees-only, nothing unusual there. I can’t quite put my finger on it, but something’s amiss there (in the relationship, I mean; the work party situation seems quite normal), judging by the feeling #4’s wording is giving me.

    3. Sans*

      Yes, I’ve been working for over 30 years and I’ve never been able to bring a guest to a holiday party. Not at all unusual.

    4. NJ Anon*

      I would have to say that any evening Christmas party I’ve gone to was +1 but during the day, no. Either way, I’m voting for insecure, controlling and jealous. But the ,ahem, frugal part of me says take a cab home but that is HER choice.

      1. OfficePrincess*

        But the cab wouldn’t always be more frugal. The last cab I took in my area (mid-size city) was 15-20 minutes and cost me over $60 after I waited more than an hour to get picked up. Late at night when cabs are even harder to come by I’d rather pay an extra $20-30 for the hotel than try to take a cab.

        1. NJ Anon*

          Where I live taking a cab would be less expensive then taking a cab for sure but still, it is her choice, not his.

        2. Koko*

          Plus you have to double the cab fare because she would have to either take a cab there, or take a cab back the next day to pick up the car she abandoned (and in the latter case, add the cost of overnight parking in a city to that).

        3. Observer*

          Also, it could mean a cab in two directions – either she takes a cab there, or she takes a cab the next morning to get the car.

    5. Blue Anne*

      The enormous multinational firm I’m currently working for has a Christmas dinner, which is staff only, by department, and then a huge blowout party in January for the whole office to which spouses are invited *if* you want to pay £45 for their ticket. (You have to pay for your own ticket, too, if you’re not in the social fun.) It’d say it’s a 50/50 split – my husband wouldn’t be dragged along for love nor money last year, which was good honestly, as he’s an angry hippie who probably would’ve exploded at my multinational corporate finance wonk colleagues at some point.

      It’s the only place I’ve heard of that allows spouses to come along.

      1. AnotherAlison*

        Mine is similar. Huge fancy party with spouses last weekend (I opted out). Department employee-only dinner later this week, which starts late in the afternoon through early evening.

        My previous employer and my spouse’s previous employers all had fancy-party-with-spouses types of Christmas parties, so that’s always seemed normal to me. I went to my first one with my husband back when we were dating & I was 18.

        (I am learning all about people’s differing ideas on these types of functions this week. My 20th reunion is upcoming, and some of my classmates want an outdoor picnic with families. . .which sounds pretty horrible to me. I barely want to see my former classmates, and definitely don’t want to hang out with their rugrats.)

        1. MashaKasha*

          I used to be friends with a large group of people who had all been in the same graduating class. For their 20th, they did what they called an anti-reunion. Their reasoning was “we’re going to pay $100/couple to attend that thing and then we’ll all just end up sitting together anyway, so why not do it in Bob’s backyard for free?” I think about a hundred people showed up… it was a great party. No rugrats.

        1. MashaKasha*

          Psst… Based on that description, I think I might be dating BlueAnne’s husband.
          Angry hippies are the best.

    6. Doralee*

      I just talked to our CEO about this last week. She makes a point during staff meetings the week before the party to remind employees that our holiday party is *for* the plus ones, since they put up with us working (many) weird hours and complaining about work. She called me just before the party to confirm the name of the girlfriend of our newest team member so that she’d get it right when they met. I mentioned that I thought it was impressive to memorize all the names of the people attending the event and she said that since the employees are important to the company, she wants to make sure that people that are important to the employees are recognized.

      I’ve never worked anywhere like this before.

      1. Oryx*

        We just had our big party, everyone got a plus one, and they specifically asked for the names when we RSVP-d, so everyone got a name tag, including the plus ones (it’s a big company, not everyone interacts with everyone else so name tags help). It was a nice touch.

    7. AnonForThis*

      I’m not sure about #4 and I hope he and his wife works this out, but I’m giving side eye to companies that take employees away from their families in the evening for Forced Holiday Fun and then say, “Spouses and significant others can’t come.” Stop being CHEAP and allow people to bring someone, or hold the party during work hours. Sheesh.

      1. Lore*

        I don’t know. My company is huge; we had nearly 2000 people attend the holiday party this year and that’s probably only 65 percent of the local employees. It’s from 5:30 to 8:30, it takes both of the grand ballrooms at a local hotel (which is at a central location close to the office and to transit). People can stop by for half an hour on their way out, or stay the whole time and go to the after-party (unofficial but always spearheaded by the CEO). It’s a stand-up-and-mingle cocktail party with finger food, and it’s hard enough to find the colleagues from other departments/buildings you might want to catch up with. But if even half the people brought +1s, it would get even unwieldier even faster.

      2. Jen RO*

        I don’t mind going without my boyfriend – actually, I prefer it. My coworkers are fun and like partying, and my boyfriend always wants to stay in. He would be miserable at the party, and I got to have fun with people I like – win-win! (This was the kind of party where you go and dance for 5 hours, the music is too loud for talking.)

        1. Jen RO*

          And for the record – I did get drunk, and yet I managed to make it home without having an affair! Drinking does not equal making out in the bathroom or whatever else OP4 might be imagining.

          1. L McD*

            Yyyeaaaah, I kind of worry about this. I think the OP might be laboring under the assumption that cheating is somehow an inevitable outcome of a (potentially) drunken holiday work party. And there’s that comment above about a weekend event where “so many marriages were broken up,” which just sort of feeds into this idea…it’s not a thing. Cheaters cheat. People who aren’t cheaters don’t magically lose all of their self-control and morality just because they had a couple of drinks. If you’re a cheater, yes, this sort of event presents a FANTASTIC opportunity to cheat. But if the OP believes their wife is a cheater, that’s an issue that needs to be dealt with independent of the holiday party.

    8. april ludgate*

      I wish my manager realized this. They didn’t want us planning a holiday get-together during work hours because that would mean spouses couldn’t come. As someone who doesn’t have a spouse, I found this kind of annoying since I thought that the party should really be during a time convenient for the employees.

    9. BananaPants*

      Our holiday parties are never +1. They’re held on a weekday, from like 4-7 PM, in our cafeteria and are very clearly employees only. I know very few people who can bring a +1 to their holiday party (or still get a Christmas ham or turkey, or other similar “company gift”).

    10. Anna*

      The last place I worked spouses were ALWAYS included and every other year it also included children. Where I am now this was the first time it was explicitly stated partners were invited (but with a small fee for dinner because our party fund wasn’t that large). It was surprising the number of people who are bringing partners. We went from maybe two last year to over 10 this year, which is a LOT.

  5. Myrin*

    OP 6, you sound very level-headed, mature, and professional in your letter – I’m sure you can pull off Alison’s script without creating unnecessary conflict (unless your coworkers are the type of people who will react negatively to any suggestions at all). Best of luck!

  6. Liz in a Library*

    #4: Over the years, about 2/3 of either my husband’s or my office parties have included spouses, with 1/3 being employees only. Frankly, I think we both wish spouses were never included, as we are both very uncomfortable in a room full of strangers and it would get us off the hook with one another!

    Assuming no information missing from the letter, it sounds like your wife just wants to celebrate with colleagues, drink, and be safe about it. That’s a responsible choice and not one that would make me immediately leap to suspicion.

  7. Apollo Warbucks*

    #4 Nothing about the situation sounds odd to me other than your discomfort and mistrust and I’m struggling to see why you are concerned. I’ve never worked anywhere that invited guests to the Xmas party.

    Even if your wifes coworkers are a wild bunch and party hard that doesn’t mean your wife will it also doesn’t mean there is anything wrong with booking a hotle room for a night its a safe easy and convenient option so she’s safe after the party.

    Find something to do that night and enjoy a bit of time alone and don’t begrudge your wife spending some time getting to know her new co workers.

    1. Doriana Gray*

      I’ve worked at three places since graduating from college, and two of those places had employee only parties. They were super fun and after hours. The company I currently work at gives each of us (1000+ employees) four tickets to attend the Christmas party, which inevitably means people bring spouses and/or friends. This also means people are less likely to mingle with people they normally wouldn’t get a chance to or wouldn’t think to. I think that defeats the purpose, though it’s a nice gesture from our employer (and these events are swanky as hell with expensive door prizes to boot).

      I agree with your last paragraph that OP find something else to do that night and don’t ruin her opportunity to make new work friends.

  8. Alienor*

    “She thinks this is acceptable behaviour.” Well, yes, she does. Because it is. And furthermore #4, since your wife is an adult woman and not a child, it’s really not for you to decide whether her “behaviour” is “acceptable” or not, or to monitor or try to control where she goes or what she does.

  9. Chris*

    OP4, I think you’re going to get a lot of shade in here, and I’m not going to add to it. It may well be that you’re being controlling, or overly jealous, or whatever, but I’m going to take you at your word, and give you honest advice.

    Now, none of the individual elements are really problematic. A hotel room near a late night party that may involve alcohol is entirely reasonable, and possibly admirable. Personally, I would simply stop drinking earlier, but that may no be an option here, and better safe than sorry. A no-spouses Christmas party itself isn’t that odd (though a late night, alcohol-present office party where spouses are explicitly barred? That is actually a bit weird to me, but I don’t have a ton of experience in the business world, so w/e). You mentioned that she booked a room for herself alone, implying that she was uninviting you. That was unclear, but it’s not that important here.

    The question is: what are you afraid of? The implication is obviously cheating. So let’s take a look at that. Do you have prior marital problems/concerns? Has she cheated before, etc? Have YOU cheated before (projection can be a bitch)? If you have honest concerns about THIS PARTICULAR situation, than that is a marital issue you need to confront, head on. Not through argument about this problem.

    Assuming you don’t have prior concerns (which would override anything else), you need to look at the possibilities here. People don’t accidentally cheat. She isn’t going to drink too much and bang a coworker on a whim. If you love and trust your wife, and have no prior concerns, than you need let this go.

    I’m going to say something that might be controversial, but jealousy is 100% normal. There is nothing wrong with being jealous, of thinking of your spouse having a great time drinking with other people and feeling weird about it. The key is how you ACT. You need some logic in there, to counteract the kneejerk emotion.

    Your wife can cheat whenever she wants. Anyone can cheat whenever they want. This isn’t some magical situation that will make her do it. Either you trust her, or you don’t. If you don’t, you need to think about that a lot.

    I’ll close with an anecdote. I was in Canada for a master’s degree, and one of my friends had a boyfriend back in Canada. They had only been dating for 2 months before she left, and were continuing long distance. He proceeded to be possibly the most jealous and irrational person I’ve ever seen, constantly demanding to know who she was with, what she was doing, and using the old (ridiculous) line of “It’s not that I don’t trust you, it’s that I don’t trust them” (implying rape? I guess?). And this girl was ironclad, 100% faithful to this guy, no ifs ands or buts. Yet after a year of this, she got so fed up with him that she broke it off before she went back home. Either you trust your significant other or you don’t. If you don’t, ask yourself why. And that’s where you’ll find your solution, however painful it may be.

    1. The Artist Formally Known As UKAnon*

      “I’m going to say something that might be controversial, but jealousy is 100% normal. There is nothing wrong with being jealous, of thinking of your spouse having a great time drinking with other people and feeling weird about it. The key is how you ACT. You need some logic in there, to counteract the kneejerk emotion.”

      Actually, I’ll back you up on this. I know there are some people who don’t feel jealousy, but it’s actually seemed perfectly normal to me for people to feel jealous/insecure. The key is that they knew that THEY were being jealous/insecure and it was THEIR problem which THEY had to deal with. I have all the time in the world for people who can admit that; I have none for people who can’t but who still act jealously.

      I try and look at it this way: either you trust your partner not to cheat/anything else. Or you don’t trust you partner not to cheat/anything else but the simple fact of you not trusting them isn’t going to lead them to cheat/anything else, nor is you trusting them going to stop them from cheating/anything else. So then you either have to learn to trust them or end the relationship because you think they might be cheating/anything else.

      Really, there are only two good options in this scenario.

      “People don’t accidentally cheat. She isn’t going to drink too much and bang a coworker on a whim.”

      (I feel obliged to say that this is a situation where perpetrators tend to take advantage, but stopping women from drinking and going to hotel rooms afterwards isn’t the answer – and there’s also no reason to think any of her coworkers would do that. And if they did it wouldn’t be her fault in any way shape or form. But I just wanted to say that.)

      1. Kelly L.*

        I think the distinction is that being assaulted wouldn’t be cheating, or a whim, it would be an assault. And you’re right, it would not be her fault.

        1. The Artist Formally Known As UKAnon*

          I completely agree. Unfortunately, there are still far too many people who wouldn’t draw that distinction.

          1. lawsuited*

            If I were sexually assaulted and my husband didn’t make the distinction between sexual assault and cheating, I’d be very, very glad to be rid of him.

      2. Blue Anne*

        I’d just like to say that I agree with this even though I’m poly. Even the poly person thinks jealousy is normal. :)

        The important thing isn’t to not feel jealous, it’s to acknowledge that you’re feeling jealous and deal with the jealousy in a way that is healthy and appropriate for your relationship.

        (That said I don’t think I’ve ever experienced it. But this makes me a weirdo outlier even among poly circles.)

        1. Sigrid*

          (Also poly, also never really felt anything I would define as jealousy. But I do agree it’s totally normal.)

          1. knitchic79*

            Ditto on being poly. I don’t feel jealousy, hubby does though. It’s completely normal. It’s the ability to talk it out that counts.

        2. Elizabeth West*

          Not poly, and I DO get jealous–but this wouldn’t make me jealous if there were no prior indicators of any wrongdoing.

          I used to live with someone who had a late-night hunting hobby, and I actually enjoyed those nights because I had complete and total control of the TV (no wrestling, yeah!). I loved the guy and enjoyed his company, but it was nice to have a break from each other now and then.

    2. Traveler*

      I’m also with you on the jealousy being normal. I can even see why the situation would give a spouse cause to raise an eyebrow at first. However you are right, it’s how you ACT, and the OP’s response is a little worrisome. You have to be able to trust your spouse, and if you can’t with something like this – something else is going on there that you need to address.

      1. Laurel Gray*

        I think the OP should come back and give more context. I know we aren’t supposed to nitpick a person’s word choice but the OP had a few in his letter that were troubling. Still, I want to give him the benefit of the doubt since there is missing context. I fear some comments may be read as soft attacks and hinder him from doing so.

        Also, I know trust is a very major part of relationships but the truth is that sometimes it ebbs and flows. Sometimes relationships are currently in the ebb stage with trust and certain actions from the parties involved need to happen to get the flow back.

        1. Traveler*

          “Sometimes relationships are currently in the ebb stage with trust and certain actions from the parties involved need to happen to get the flow back.”

          True. For all we know OP’s spouse did something in the past that violated his trust and they’ve decided to stay together and she’s still earning it back. Or some other entirely valid reason. More context would be great.

    3. Beezus*

      In my experience, “it’s not that I don’t trust you, it’s that I don’t trust them” hasn’t been a rape thing, it’s more of a sexist “you’re too unworldly and trusting and naive to identify and shut down advances from other men” thing. So, basically, “it’s not that I don’t trust you because you’re untrustworthy, it’s that I don’t trust you because you’re preciously stupid and I know what’s best for you.” Grrrr.

      1. OwnedByTheCat (formerly Anony-Moose)*

        This is what my mom would say to me when I was 15 and she wouldn’t let me stay out late. Even then it infuriated me (although it also makes more sense coming from a parent to a teen.) If someone said this to me now…Bye Felicia!

      2. One of the Sarahs*

        Yes, yes, it’s also amazingly shitty to be told that as a woman you should never drink/wear a short skirt/walk home alone because a man might rape you, because there’s so often this undertone of “and if it does happen it’ll be your own fault for not talking my advice”.

        (Ugh, now I’m flashing back to all the conflicting advice given at school & uni – don’t walk in the shadows ‘cos rapists are there, but don’t walk in the well-lit part cos they can see you; don’t wear long hair loose as it makes it obvious you’re a woman, but don’t wear it in a ponytail a rapist can grab you; don’t go home alone, but don’t let a guy walk you home….)

      3. Turtle Candle*

        YES. I’ve always heard “I trust you, I just don’t trust them” in the context of guys whose attitude is that platonic relationships are impossible between men and women–that women might be capable of being friends with men, but those men are always, always hanging around waiting just in case you might decide to have sex with them (and of course would be willing at the drop of a hat). It’s usually part and parcel of the skewed and highly gender-essentialist worldview in which women don’t really enjoy sex, or at least don’t enjoy sex as much as men, but that men think about sex 24/7/365 and are willing with anyone. Which is obviously pretty insulting to both men and women (and completely exclusionary of GLBT+ people).

        The one time a guy tried to pull this on me, I was like, “I don’t think Friend actually does want to have sex with me, but even if he did, that’s not going to make a difference unless I decide to cheat too.” Cue a lot of hemming and haw-ing that ultimately led to the other insulting implication: it wasn’t that he thought Friend was actually going to, say, rape me, or that I was “planning” to cheat, but that my weak lady-mind would be easily swayed by Friend’s superior man persuasion and I’d somehow cheat by accident.

        The relationship did not last long.

      1. MashaKasha*

        Seriously. “Explicitly barred” would be “you can bring any +1, as long as it’s not your spouse” and yes that would be bizarre! “We can’t afford to pay for your guest, so it’s a no-guests party” is a very common thing that does not mean spouses are explicitly barred.

    4. neverjaunty*

      Well said.

      Jealousy is a signal, like pain. It means there’s something you need to pay attention to; it rarely means you should flail around unthinkingly.

    5. Not So NewReader*

      Right on target, Chris.

      OP, I see a lot of emotion and tension in your letter. I agree with Chris, what is your real question here?

      I think some times people lack the words for what they really want to ask and so their questions appear all over the map, as they stab at this topic, hint at that topic, and run through yet another topic. Their thinking is scattered, so the story line is scattered. Try approaching it from another angle, such as, what is your goal? What do you think is the best outcome for this situation?

      Other times people know the question they want to ask but are held back because they feel it’s not right to ask that question. Notice, I did not say it was or was not right, I am saying they THINK it’s not right to ask that question. Preconceived notions, an added wrinkle. This boxes the answer seeker into a corner. Can’t ask the question but wants/needs to know the answer anyway. So again start at the end and work back to where you are now. What is her ideal answer to you, what does that sound like? What missing pieces of information are in that answer?

      What started out as discomfort over a party has now morphed into an octopus of a problem:
      You did not clearly state your reason for discomfort. You held it back.
      You continued to hold it back.
      It could be that you still don’t know the reasons for your discomfort.
      For reasons only you know, your wife went from including you to not including you.
      Now she is going to this party without you and you’re not sure how to react to that.

      What was one problem has now worked into at least five separate issues.

      I’d suggest looking around for one or two good books about marriage, what it’s like, what is fair, how to handle the various things that come up. We aren’t born knowing this stuff- that is why these books are a big biz. Lots of people don’t know. Just peruse the books at the store/library and pick one or two that resonate with you.
      Personally, I think that reading AAM regularly is a good way to keep up with what is going on in the work world and what the new normals are.
      Put the two sources together, OP, and see where that puts your thinking.

  10. Ruth (UK)*

    On the topic of gifting up and down in general, I’m curious how it works in a volunteer setting? I’m involved in three volunteer things outside of work and I’m curious what people would consider Norwich gift etiquette to be…

    One is basically a food kitchen. Everyone is a volunteer and though we have team leaders, it’s an incredibly informal feel.

    Another one is an organisation that has two paid members and a lot of volunteers. It’s a mentoring project and I work less directly with other volunteers so I don’t know them as well…

    The other is a first aid and first response thing. There are some paid positions and some volunteer ones. The structure is quite formal for a volunteer thing, feeling more like a workplace with managers and supervisors.

    I wonder the changes from normal workplace gift giving etiquette in each of these cases? I would imagine that my first example, the etiquette is more like among friends. The second, I don’t really know, and the third I suppose it would be more like a workplace but I also understand one reason about not gifting up is because of salary difference etc which doesn’t really apply here… Most volunteers work to some degree at vastly varying salaries that does not correlate with anything related to our position in this volunteer group…

    1. Ruth (UK)*

      Um… My phone has autocorrect the word volunteer to Norwich. I can’t work out why and it’s such a leap I thought I’d explain it…

      1. misspiggy*

        That’s excellent – I thought you actually did want advice about gift giving norms in Norwich! I’d say that as some of the volunteers you work with might be unemployed or on low pensions, give small gifts that won’t make anyone feel they should have given something/spent more money. Small bags of cookies or a tray/box of something to share, etc.

        1. AvonLady Barksdale*

          I thought the same thing. My answer? Colman’s mustard and a few pork pies from the market! Perfect Norwich gifts. :)

            1. AvonLady Barksdale*

              Did my study abroad at UEA. I get back every once in a while. A great city. Norfolk is super underrated– hoping to take my boyfriend in a few years so he can meet my host family and friends from those days, go to Wells-next-the-Sea for chips, and see the Broads. Sigh…

      2. Anna*

        This made me LOL. Especially since this morning I learned that if you type Lardass in to an iPhone, it autocorrects to Kardashian. But as far as I can tell only the first time. Makes me wonder if someone at Apple has been having a little bit of fun.

    2. The Artist Formally Known As UKAnon*

      My instinct is to say that at volunteering gigs if you wanted to bring a gift to say thank you to everyone for work that year, some sort of food item for people to gather round and have a quick “thanks all!” moment would be best.

    3. Bostonian*

      None of these situations obligate you to give gifts, I don’t think. If you *want* to do something, keep it small, or even just a nice card where you write something about how much you appreciate the work the person does. If you know the person celebrates Christmas, you could give a Christmas ornament that ties in with the volunteer work – something on that level. Or you could do small food gifts. Just steer clear of anything that will make someone feel bad for not reciprocating.

  11. Jeanne*

    For #7, offices have a lot of unwritten rules and procedures and they often forget to tell the new person. Especially if you’ve been there a few months and they’re used to having you around. Since it’s a once a year thing, it’s even easier to forget. I’m sure someone will help you.

    For all the letters: Holidays can be so stressful at home. Then these weird things at work make it worse. Please everyone look at your workplace traditions and see if you’re making people more nuts. It’s not nice.

  12. The Cosmic Avenger*

    For OP#5, I think the key is that the gift is because of your bonding over your common interest, not because she’s your boss. I’ve purchased very small treats and given one to everyone on my team at all levels (higher and lower on the org chart) and some support staff as a way of saying thanks. Or put a tin of gourmet cookies in my office and emailed everyone to come try some and come chat for a bit. Those are also ways that you can include a manager if you get along with them well enough.

  13. Traveler*

    #6 You have my sympathies. Ours is optional but not participating gets you some behind the back whisperings, which I think is really unfair. I can afford to participate and so I do, but spending my hard earned money on people I don’t really want to gift to is irritating. On the other hand, it forces me to combat my inner scrooge so I try to take it in stride. But if I couldn’t afford it? (And there was a time I definitely couldn’t) Nope. And heck, even if you can – if its tight there are probably friends and family that you’d rather spend that money on.

  14. Sigrid*

    OP #2, I really support Alison’s suggestion of writing your manager a card detailing what she’s done that’s been so helpful to you. As Alison said, it will be worth far more to her, emotionally, than a gift card, but in addition to that, it will be more likely to make her continue to do that kind of thing for her subordinates, because it will be feedback! If you know that something you’re doing is actually helping the person you’re trying to help, you’re far more likely to continue doing it. That’s why I’d second the advice of being as specific as you can about what’s been really helpful, and why. It will be a wonderful thing for her to receive.

    1. Doriana Gray*

      I have a former manager at my current place of employment who has helped me tremendously in my career (including helping me to get my new job within this same organization). I was going to get her and her colleague, who has also been a huge help and a sympathetic ear for all of my griping, gifts to show my appreciation, but then thought that might be weird so I settled on getting them really nice cards that say how wonderful they are. Of course, I plan to add my own personalized messages for each as well, but I ultimately came down on Alison’s way of thinking that a card detailing exactly how they’ve been helpful to me this past year would be more emotionally satisfying than something I pick up at Walgreens on my lunch break.

    2. Erin*

      Ditto, love this. If it’s appropriate, she could even display the thank you card in her office. I’m sure that would make her really happy and proud to look at every day.

    3. myswtghst*

      Agreed! I’ve gotten handwritten cards (and even a poster!) from classes I’ve taught with little notes about the things they appreciated that I did, and I keep them all at my desk to make me smile when things get stressful at work.

    4. Library OP*

      As always, Alison’s suggestion is right on point. I’m definitely going to get a card for the person who helped me out and write a personalized note inside it.

  15. AnonaraS*

    Re: #2 and 5….. is a former manager that you’re still on good terms with an exception to the gift giving rule? I had one who was (and still is) super helpful to me, and I value their presence in my life. Would it be weird to get them something for their birthday or holiday etc?

    1. fposte*

      Yes, unless they’re getting you presents for holidays and birthdays as well, indicating that you’re now friends. I’d especially steer away from the birthday gift, which is a personal situation rather than a seasonal observation. There’s some wiggle room for a food holiday gift with a “Thanks for your help during the last year!” but it’s something you should limit to a specific year where it’s true, not an every year thing.

      It’s always safe to write them a lovely personal note indicating your gratitude for all they’ve done for you. When in doubt, go to that.

      1. AnonaraS*

        Does a card count as a present? I was thinking about a greeting card with a personal note inside of it–we don’t work together anymore, not for a very long time, but we talk on a fairly often basis, sometimes about non-work stuff too. I wouldn’t say we’re “friends” but it’s more friendly than professional if that makes sense?

  16. T*

    #3 – I am in a similar situation with prickly coworkers concerning a gift for the boss. We’re pretty much bullied into buying a group gift for the head of our department (who’s not my direct boss, it’s my boss’s boss). One women (who’s a direct report) will pick out a gift without asking the group what they feel is appropriate. She then divides the total cost including shipping between the total number of employees in our department, and then send a group email telling us how much money we owe. There’s a line at the end asking ‘are you in’, but it’s just for show since everyone feels pressured into giving money for the gift. I really wish they would ban this sort of practice all together, and stick with exchanging something more like normal cards, cookies or candy during the holidays. I find it abrasive, but if I opted out I would be the only person not contributing in my department.

    1. Doriana Gray*

      That is completely out of line. Is there any way you can push back on this? If not, start looking for a new job. Seriously. These people have serious boundary issues.

      1. fposte*

        Looking for a new job would seem to be a bit much if the rest of the job is good, though–T’s finding this a minor once-a-year annoyance, and it doesn’t seem to be for financial reasons. If you leave jobs every time you hit a minor annoyance, you’ll never stay at any of them.

        1. Green*

          Agreed. Most people would not leave a job over <$100 worth of weirdness unless they just couldn't afford to pay it on the salary.

        2. Doriana Gray*

          Oh I agree, but my judgment is clouded by the fact that I’ve worked at places like this that these little “minor” annoyances turned into major annoyances that suddenly kept happening over and over again. When people have boundary issues like T’s coworkers seem to, they typically start to overstep in other ways as well, especially once they realize they can get away with it the first time – but I’ll concede that may not be the case here.

          1. Boo*

            Ugh yes this. In my former PA job I used to work with some very cliquey PAs, and the most senior among them took it upon herself to start circulating birthday cards for all the PAs along with a note telling us what we’d bought them and how much we owed. I didn’t know half these people as they worked on a different floor from me anyway, it was ridiculous. It wasn’t the type of place where I could have pushed back (the chief exec used to invite the directors – our bosses – to “parties” at his antique shop and tell them all how much to spend) so I at first I ignored the requests for my birthday, then finally emailed back saying I don’t really do birthdays and was happy not being included on the round robin cards/gifts. They actually pushed back a bit on this but I was firm on it. I got the silent treatment for a bit but I saw that as an xmas gift from them to me ;)

            1. Doriana Gray*

              This happened to me as well at a law firm I used to work at. I’d sign the card, but I wouldn’t give money and I wouldn’t even acknowledge the emails when people would follow-up asking if I was going to contribute. Nope – I’m sure not, especially since I didn’t have a say in what the gift was anyway and I wasn’t even friends (or friendly) with the people they did this for. But I did make it very clear that when it was my birthday or a holiday, I preferred for them not to try and coerce coworkers into donating for me. Ultimately, when I left the firm, only those who were close to me went in on a gift card to one of my favorite restaurants. Everyone else just signed the farewell card. That I thought was reasonable.

    2. The Cosmic Avenger*

      1) Are you sure? It’s possible that the bully tells everyone that everyone contributes, but that a few people have defected already, and 2) even if it’s true, it’s very likely that lots of other people will follow once someone stands up for themselves.

    3. Erin*

      I would definitely push back and not contribute towards this nonsense. A phrase Alison mentioned on a different post I like is: “Every dollar in my budget is allotted for right now.”

    4. Green*

      I think if you’re new, as OP is, it would be one of the rare times I’d bring up old workplace. “Oh, at my former employer we didn’t do gifts to people more senior than us. I just personally feel more comfortable with that.”

    5. Sasha Mulberry*

      I don’t get the “feeling bullied.”

      You say, “Sorry, there’s no way I can afford this. Please count me out.” (or a softer version like Alison suggests) and be done with it.

    6. Chocolate lover*

      Whether it’s friend, family or coworker, I’m not contributing an amount determined by someone else for a gift that I didn’t have any input on.

  17. Dang*

    #4 my company’s holiday party does not include spouses, and as a single person I am relieved. There are enough events in life that I have to attend solo and get seated with a bunch of couples, etc. It’s much easier to have an evening with coworkers and not have to awkwardly mingle with their spouses and significant others.

    If I had to guess, your wife is pushing back because she feels you are being controlling and unreasonable… and I would have to agree.

    1. Not me*


      It’s the same here and I’m also relieved.

      Describing the party itself as “unacceptable” “behavior” like it was OP’s wife’s idea… weird. I’d push back against that. She’s a new person trying to get to know her coworkers. She probably can’t skip it altogether. If there is “unacceptable” “behavior,” as Alison said, it isn’t the party itself.

  18. Erin*

    #4 – Okay, I know my husband would not be really comfortable with that arrangement either. (Although I do think me drinking and driving would make him even more uncomfortable.) I do see where you’re coming from, but is it possible this isn’t the huge deal you think it is? Maybe she wants to fit in with her coworkers because she’s still a fairly new employee. Maybe she just wants to have fun for a night.

    I’d try having one more talk with her where you calmly, without getting defensive, explain why you are not comfortable with this situation. See if there’s a compromise somewhere (like you meeting her later at the hotel as mentioned at one point).

    If it comes down to it, just let her go. Let her know that you’ll be thinking of her and that she can call you at any point if anything seems sketchy or off, and you’ll go pick her up.

    1. fposte*

      I’m curious, since you’re speaking for an underrepresented viewpoint :-). Would you be uncomfortable with your husband doing this as well?

      (To me I could see it solidifying an existing worry, but it’s not something that I’d worry about avoiding in its own right.)

      1. Meg Murry*

        At this point, I wouldn’t be thrilled with my husband doing this either – but in my case it’s because we have a limited Christmas budget and limited weekend time, so if he was going to spend Friday night getting wasted with his coworkers, spend money on a hotel room Saturday night and then probably be hung over and cranky all day Saturday I would be frustrated. Especially since we have young kids so I’d be taking care of them all by myself. But if this were something he really wanted to do, we could probably make it work, although I’d make him pencil in a few date nights for us in January or between Christmas and New Years when we could get a college student babysitter.

      2. Erin*

        Haha, good question! I think I would be comfortable with it because I do know most of his coworkers and he has been where he is for a long time now.

        If I was in the OP’s position and he’d only been with his company for a few months, and they were known to be a rowdy crowd, I admittedly wouldn’t be AS comfortable with it. But I’m sure it would be fine. He would probably invite me to the hotel with him, or at least give me a call/shoot me a text when he’s leaving the party.

        Honestly I’d probably be too excited about having Erin Alone Time for an evening to worry too much about it. ;)

      3. Elsajeni*

        I would definitely feel weird about my husband doing this! That’s mostly because it would be way out of character for him, though — he’s kind of a homebody, a very light drinker, and historically a dude who would rather keep driving until 2 a.m. if that will get him home tonight than stop and pay for an “unnecessary” hotel room (can you tell we have road-tripped cross country? we have road-tripped cross country. we do not have compatible road trip styles). Also, I am an anxious person who is prone to catastrophizing! So if he were a few months into a new job and announced that he was going to go to their wild Christmas party and book a hotel room for that night, I would worry that:
        1) he was feeling pressured into participating, and also for some reason felt he couldn’t tell me so.
        2) he actually does want to live a harder-partying life and for some reason feels he can’t tell me that?
        3) sinister motives, cheating, etc.?? (Absent other evidence, I would probably immediately dismiss this as paranoia on my part — but if I did feel like there was other evidence, or if I had a different history and relationship style than I do, I can imagine being more sincerely concerned about it.)

        1. Anna*

          Let us harken back to Alison’s request that we don’t nitpick word choices. The context is that it’s not a battle to fight, not that the spouse needs permission.

      1. Erin*

        Of course she doesn’t need his permission. I think you’re nitpicking my word choice.

        Let her go = let it go. It’s a marriage and there will be disagreements. Pick your battles. Don’t pick this one.

        1. Laurel Gray*

          See, in my world “let her go” makes sense and doesn’t read as some controlling husband whose wife needs permission to hang out with coworkers. Different relationships, different dynamics, I guess. In many relationships, if one party felt how the OP does, the other party would be seeking an alternative for the sake of compromise. There has been so much word nitpicking of this OP throughout these comments. I would be surprised if they gave an update after reading the comments.

    2. LSP*

      I guess I’m from the underrepresented group too. I would be a bit uncomfortable if my husband or I were put it this situation as well, but I already know what our solution would be and at the end of the day it wouldn’t be a big deal.

      Anyone else think OP might be ESL? I know sometimes my family members can use words that are “incorrect” or “too strong” when trying to express something. I doubt it, but I’m just throwing it out there…

      1. fposte*

        Or just not a language person. Yes, I thought about that–that we can fall into the habit of reading as if everybody constructed their question with exactitude, and a lot of people don’t or can’t.

        1. Ask a Manager* Post author

          Yes, very much this. And I’d bet that most regular commenters here are language people, since people who enjoy expressing themselves in writing often are, and we tend to expect others to be the same … but they are not.

      1. The Cosmic Avenger*

        It sounds like she was referring to the post with the title “my husband emailed my manager about our decision for me to resign” (link to follow).

    1. Gandalf the Nude*

      See: “My husband emailed my manager about our decision for me to resign”

      It’s kind of anxiety-inducing, though. I still wonder about that OP.

  19. Lily*

    #4: could you please clarify what part of it you see problems with? Is it the hotel room cost? The fact that your wife prefers you not being there in the room*? Or something else?

    * I cannot imagine being somewhere for a party and having someone waiting in my hotel room! That sounds stressful for everyone involved: you will be bored and slightly unhappy that you can’t be at the party, and she can’t enjoy the party because she knows you are bored and waiting for her, and when she finally goes to sleep, she has to be extra quiet and can’t make light, and she will wake you up and everyone will be pissed^^

  20. Artemesia*

    On giving the 10$ gift card. Handing money to a boss is kind of creepy and 10$ is a real stretch for many entry level folks and nothing at all to the boss, so it is sort of lose lose. The idea of a warm holiday card with a note that is specific about the boss’s wonderfulness too the new employee will be treasured — the 10$ gift card will be embarrassing (and will probably sit in a drawer and never be used. one of the reasons that gift cards are so popular with those who sell them is that they are very often not used, so it is ‘free money’ for the organization)

  21. Bri*

    #3 I have the best boss ever and I want to write something meaningful in his card. It’s just tripping me up a little because he’s male and I’m female and I want to make sure the tone is completely appropriate and not overly sappy to the point he’s embarrassed. I really want to get across how much I appreciate him being a great boss. Does anyone have any wording advice?

  22. wannabefreelancer*

    Re: #4 – I’m still hoping for an AAM/Dan Savage collaboration. Work questions mixed with relationship questions. Also, OP sounds very distrustful. My gut feeling is that there’s already underlying trust issues with his wife and he’s projecting his insecurities on the party.

  23. LSP*


    What if your manager would *eye roll* at a note? Not in a mean way, just like…notes are cheesy to some people in certain situations.

    Side note, I know every time I read a therapist suggestion to write someone a letter my eyes roll back into the next time zone.

      1. LSP*

        Not in front of the employee! I honestly think she would graciously accept and be appreciative but really cringe inside, like “noooo please don’t give me this, whhhyyy”

        1. Liana*

          But what kind of manager would do that? I’m genuinely curious – I feel like an eye roll in response to a note of appreciation says a lot more about the eye-roller than the note-writer. I mean … writing a note is such a nice, non-intrusive way of saying thank you, I don’t know how anyone wouldn’t be touched.

          1. LSP*

            A cold hearted person? I don’t know! Did any employee ever write a TY note to Steve Jobs? I heart my managers but they both happen to be people who distance themselves emotionally (here, professionally). They are just matter-of-fact people. They are great, but we’ve worked together for years. Sometimes you just *know*. Like I said, I know she would graciously accept and be like awwww LSP! She’s not emotionally dead :) but after I’m gone she’d be like, what do I do with this?

            Maybe I’m worried that I’d be giving her something that would just end up being clutter or something. I’m being silly, I know.

            1. fposte*

              You can probably find people who will hate any possibility: people who’d be ticked that you did nothing, people who are offended you gave them money or a gift card, people who hate that you gave them wine, people who are annoyed by notes. Of those, I would guess with reasonable certainty that the category with the smallest percentage is people who are annoyed by notes.

              This particular situation is one where doing nothing is probably okay too, but in general you want to watch yourself if you have a tendency to avoid taking any action at all (I don’t know that you do have that, but it struck me as possible) for fear that that action might not be perceived well. That kind of risk aversion is a real career handicap.

              1. LSP*

                You’re one of my favorite commenters because you are always very thoughtful.

                I’ll write her a Thank You note! (I’m transferring departments soon.) I was really overthinking it.

              2. Turtle Candle*

                Yes: anything might be hated by somebody. There is nothing in the world that is universally loved. And posting things on the Internet pretty much guarantees that as soon as you suggest giving someone a million dollars, ten pounds of chocolate, and some puppies, you will instantly hear from everyone who finds money crass, is allergic to chocolate, and hates dogs–which, if you have a tendency to second-guess yourself, means that it’s really really really easy to be paralyzed. But on the other hand, that doesn’t mean that gestures are never worthwhile, either.

                Some things are obviously more dicey than others (as much as I love puppies, obviously they are not a great thank-you gift…) but I think that something like a thoughtful note of thanks is sufficiently nonproblematic that it’s a good suggestion in the vast majority of cases. And if you do happen to work for Miranda Priestly… chances are good you will already know not to bother.

      2. JR*

        I weirdly happen to really hate getting hand-written thank-you notes of the more perfunctory variety (such as after a wedding gift). It brings up too many memories of times when my own note-writing obligations were stressful and overwhelming, I guess. But even I would appreciate a note if it was sincere and unexpected. (And even if it did make me cringe for some reason, I’d definitely keep that to myself! Just like I do with wedding notes. It’s my weirdness, not their fault.)

    1. Library OP*

      I can see how that might be the case at, for instance, my husband’s company, which is technology- and business-focused and has what I think of (with my own eye roll) as a very masculine business culture. The library where I work, though, is much more person-oriented and the culture is more feminine and nurturing. I think a card with a note expressing appreciation would be valued and not treated as something cheesy.

  24. stiveee*

    “She thinks this is acceptable behavior.” Are you married to a 12 year old, OP? Are you going to ground her if she disobeys?

  25. Queen Anne Of Cleves*

    Most of the companies I have worked for in my industry included the significant other for holiday parties. My current job does not but then the party is now held during the day and not after hours. Recently my husband’s company had a party and booked hotel rooms. SOs were invited but I honestly did not want to go and we have a small child. What did I do? I asked my husband to stay in the hotel (yes, without me. Gasp!) instead of driving home if it were very, very late or if he drank more than a couple of drinks. I would rather err on the side of caution and not worry about him driving home at the wee hours of the morning, driving after drinking or being on the road with others who may be driving drunk. It just made sense. In your case OP there is clearly much more going on and I hope you give us an update. I don’t think we really know what the root issue is.

  26. Jessie*

    OP #4. My group at a major corporation recently did exactly that. A rowdy christmas party at a nice restaurant with copious amounts of alcohol. They polled the employees whether they wanted a casual, potluck-type event with spouses and children or the fancy restaurant with employees only (the budget wouldn’t have handled both), and the restaurant won hands-down. Everyone wanted a chance to do something with the team outside of work hours. A lot of times what happens at an event like this (when family is invited) is that the married couples end up all hanging out together and the single employees all hang out together. There’s a lot of small talk to make everyone feel included and not as much of the relaxing and cutting loose. People can’t stay as late because there’s often a babysitter to get home to. I’m sorry you feel left out by an event like this, but I can say from my recent experience that it was incredibly fun and excellent for morale. There were a lot of work-related jokes that no one had to worry about and there was much adult beverage to be had. I’m not saying all events should be like this, but it was nice to change it up for once.

  27. New Commenter*

    I’m another in the group that finds the hotel thing inappropriate. The husband knows that the work culture is wild and rowdy even though his wife hasn’t worked there long. I’m imagining a new employee wanting to fit in and gradually spending more and more time out carousing with coworkers, culminating in this party to be followed by a solo stay in a hotel only 30 minutes from home. Add to this her resistance to her husband joining her at the hotel, and I’m suspicious, too. If things were on the up and up, she would encourage him to come along.

    If my husband pulled something like this, I’d start investigating.

    1. Doriana Gray*

      Add to this her resistance to her husband joining her at the hotel, and I’m suspicious, too.

      But OP said his wife did ask him to come to the hotel with her. Then she suddenly (according to the letter) changed her mind. I’m with everybody upthread who said there are some pieces to this puzzle missing. She wasn’t resistant to anything until they had dinner. Given that OP said the initial hotel invite may have been given due to a look on his face, it’s quite possible his wife was tired of disapproving looks at this dinner and decided to book a room to distance herself from anymore passive aggressive behavior which, yeah – I don’t blame her.

      1. New Commenter*

        I guess it’s possible that she thought he was being a massive killjoy and that he would be a huge burden if he came along. I still don’t think disinviting her husband is a great way to handle this.

  28. LadyCop*

    #4 As someone who has to deal with the people who “get trashed” at these ridiculous parties every year…can I point out that never in my life have I had a job where it would be acceptable to get drunk at a company function let alone (and this is just a sample of what I deal with)… get arrested, urinate in public, throw up all over the place, get in a verbal altercation with co-workers/event staff, get evicted from a hotel, or hire a prostitute…

    And yet, these people not only do this, they keep their jobs. STOP GETTING WASTED AT YOUR WORK EVENTS PEOPLE!

    1. Zmanfu*

      Last year at my mothers company, two of the youngest employees were organizing things. They brought their boyfriends to a party with an open bar, and soon they were picking fights in the parking lot and police have to be called. The senior person “technically in charge” likes to drink and hates outing her foot down, so she never did anything before during or afterward. I understand enjoying some alcohol, but getting steadily drunk seems like it could be bad for your professional reputation, regardless of the company you keep at work. Even if you have some good work friends, if it’s company sponsored, that does seem a tad weird. But we don’t know all the facts.

  29. The Bimmer Guy*

    Requiring employees to bring food to meetings is a lousy policy, especially if that meeting is mandatory. If the company wants food, it should provide some. And mandated gifts with a set dollar amount? Seriously?

  30. Zmanfu*

    If the “acceptable behavior” comment in #4 seems icky to you, I have a question. Would you feel the same way if a woman said it of her husband/partner/etc? Because it sounds like a lot of the ick comes from a man condescending to a woman. I sympathize, but also want to recognize a double standard at work.

    I can see why some people disagree with OP, but I can also see where he might see red flags. Until he gets back to us and clarifies, I don’t feel comfortable passing judgment.

    1. Tigger*

      Yes, I would find that icky regardless of gender. As a woman, I am often bothered how controlling some woman are of their husband, acting more as mothers than wives, and it bothers me when I hear “I wouldn’t let my husband do X” or “I have to ask the wife first if I can do X.” My husband and I keep each other informed of our whereabouts, but it’s as a courtesy or safety, not asking permissions. We may ask each other’s advice about things we want to do/buy/etc, but neither he nor I would forbid the other from doing anything.

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