Cooling a heated debate

My wife and I had a dinner party recently and one of our guests brought up a volatile topic that ensued in a pretty heated discussion that was uncomfortable for everyone. I tried saying, “it sounds like you will just have to agree to disagree,” but that didn’t stop them. What should I have done? 

As host, when your guests are becoming too heated in a conversation, it is best to say, clearly, “I would like to change the topic, please.” In most cases, your guests will respect your request. If they can’t seem to stop, say it again, and change the topic yourself to something neutral, to give them time to calm down. This is your right, and in this case, your obligation so that the nice evening you have planned isn’t spoiled for everyone.

I know it is customary for the bride and groom to pay for the hotels for their attendants who travel to be in their wedding. Would that be just for the night of the wedding, or would it be for the night before, when the rehearsal dinner is, too?

It would be for both nights, since they would be expected to be at the rehearsal as well as the rehearsal dinner, in addition to the wedding. If they arrive earlier, or stay longer, they pay for those additional nights themselves.


I am getting married for the second time. This is also a second marriage for my husband-to-be. He is insisting that I wear a wedding dress. I don’t want to. We are both in our 50s and I think this would be inappropriate and ridiculous. He says it is fine. Is he right?

He’s not wrong that you could do this, and second- and even third-time brides today are no longer prohibited from wearing a white or ivory wedding gown, without a face veil or a train. However, since you would be very uncomfortable, explain gently that it would put a huge damper on the day for you and you want to find something pretty, that he will love, in your favorite color, to wear for your wedding. It is sweet that he wants you to feel like a bride, but you can be a beautiful bride without wearing a white wedding gown.


When I am invited somewhere, I must have my phone with me. I have a caregiver for my mom and need to be available to her 24/7. I feel rude answering my phone, but really have no choice. Should I say something to the people I’m with? 

Yes.  It is a very good idea to explain, before your phone ever rings, that you are “on call” for your mom’s caregiver. That way, if she does call, you aren’t scrambling to explain as your phone rings, nor do you appear to be distracted while at a gathering. Do try to leave the room to talk to the caregiver, however, so everyone else isn’t held captive by your phone conversation.

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