DEAR MISS MANNERS: Our marriage has its ups and downs, including some heated arguments. But our social life continues, and that sometimes involves having guests in our home.
To date, we have not ever had a mid-gathering blowout, but I cannot say it would never happen. If it does, what do you suggest we do once we have calmed down and regained our composure?
GENTLE READER: Allow Miss Manners to introduce you to a useful military concept that dates back to the 14th century: the truce.
However much you and your partner may enjoy this volatile relationship, it should not be inflicted on guests. As entertaining as it might be for them, and as productive of amusing gossip, watching hosts fight puts them in an untenable position.
If they pretend not to notice, they look stupid, and may even be unwelcome in the future -- in the case that your quarrel is forgotten, but you don't relish witnesses to your discord. If they take sides, they antagonize at least one host, and probably both.
Forget the possibility that they might not gossip about this. Why should they be discreet when you are not?
So if you and your co-host cannot control yourselves, you should suspend entertaining until there is a clear winner. The only alternative is to have a firm policy that when others are present, there will be a total truce.
That means acting as if nothing had happened, and restraining yourselves from shooting off what you think of as subtle darts that your guests will not understand. They will.