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by Abigail Van Buren

Wife Is Fed Up With Husband Who Leaves a Trail of Trash

DEAR ABBY: My husband's brother was married to "Ellie" for 17 years. She was a wonderful woman. They had two great kids. Ellie always treated his parents and siblings with respect. Sadly, they were not as nice to her. In spite of it, she considered them her family.

When Ellie finally decided to divorce my brother-in-law, after years of emotional and verbal abuse by him and his parents, it was a gut-wrenching decision.

Although Ellie and my brother-in-law continued living together for more than a year while their divorce was pending, my in-laws cut off all contact with her. They removed her pictures from the walls of their home, "uninvited" her to a family wedding for which she had already attended the bridal shower, and never once asked her children (their grandchildren) about her. It was as if Ellie never existed. She was very hurt, but never bad-mouthed any of them to her kids.

Shortly after the divorce was final, my brother-in-law died in a car accident at the age of 47. Ellie's children, now 13 and 11, no longer want anything to do with their grandparents. They feel very angry about the way their mother was treated. Ellie has told them she would like them to have a relationship with their dad's family, but will not force them.

Who should make the first move, Abby? –- SISTER-IN-LAW ON THE SIDELINES

DEAR SISTER-IN-LAW: If you have a relationship with the grandparents, urge them to apologize to Ellie for the way they treated her. However, truthfully, it may be too late to make amends. Children can smell hypocrisy a mile away.