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Miss Manners: Was I rude to leave the room when my in-laws were arguing?

3 min

Dear Miss Manners: My husband and I were housesitting for friends in a town that was a short drive from his sister, “Lacey,” and brother-in-law, “Tuck.” We invited them to come over for dinner one evening, which they did. I didn’t know them well, although I had heard that Tuck was volatile and argumentative.

After dinner, everyone wanted to play pool, and my husband said we could clean up the kitchen after we played. During the game, Tuck started calling Lacey an idiot, then it grew worse as he swore at her and used obscenities. Lacey yelled and argued right back, and I got the impression that this was just how they related to each other.

I couldnt take it anymore, so I said I was going to clean up the kitchen, and I left the game. I didn’t say anything about them, just that I was going to take care of the dishes.

My husband came into the kitchen a few minutes later and told me Lacey and Tuck said it was rude of me to leave the game. He thought I should go back. I refused because their behavior was upsetting, and I would rather wash dishes by myself than endure that atmosphere.

Was I rude to leave? How should I have handled this?

Just because that is the way that this couple normally relates does not mean others should have to witness it.

Miss Manners wholeheartedly defends your behavior. If Tuck and Lacey wanted to confront you themselves (as that seems to be their proclivity), you could have said, “It seemed as if this was a personal matter, and I wanted to give you two some privacy.”

That your husband felt no such compulsion — and viewed this behavior as normal — is more worrisome.

Dear Miss Manners: My husband and I are at the age where we are going to more funerals than weddings. The last one we attended, I wore a knee-length black skirt, a black-and-white blouse and some kitten-heeled red shoes for a pop of color. My husband wore nice leather shoes, khakis and a tucked-in blue button-down shirt.

We were some of the nicest-dressed people in attendance. Many people were in capri pants, tennis shoes, jeans, flowered sandals, even a halter mini dress.

My husband chastised me for the red shoes. Once and for all, what is proper funeral attire, since what we are doing is celebrating the life of the deceased?

It is endlessly confusing to Miss Manners that at what is the most formal and solemn of occasions, people consider it too fussy to dress up and too depressing to wear black. The only place it is still done is on screen — where elaborately chic hats, veils and suits are almost as ubiquitous at funerals as the too-on-the-nose pouring rain.

She assures you dark (black, navy or gray) formal clothes are proper. And if your husband is going to chastise you for red shoes, he should at least have the decency not to wear blue and tan himself.

New Miss Manners columns are posted Monday through Saturday on You can send questions to Miss Manners at her website, You can also follow her @RealMissManners.

©2022, by Judith Martin