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by Abigail Van Buren

Man Leaves Wife, Daughters at Curb After Birthday Dinner

DEAR ABBY: I coordinated and paid for a 70th birthday party for my terminally ill husband. Fourteen people were invited, and seven of them were related to my only sister, "Carla."

During the dinner, her husband was rude to the waitress and at the end of the party was screaming and yelling at Carla over the valet parking ticket. As they left the restaurant, he shoved her. He then got in their car and left my sister and her stepdaughters (from a previous marriage) standing there. They had to order a rideshare to get home.

I texted her later to be sure she and the girls had arrived safely. She said yes and told me she would talk to me the next day. When I didn't hear from her, I followed up. The next time we talked, she acted like nothing had happened! When I pursued the discussion and asked what prompted his strange behavior, she said, "I don't know what to tell you." I said, "You don't know?" and she replied, "I didn't say that. I said I don't know what to tell you."

After a lengthy discussion, I told her that unless we had some assurance that the incident wouldn't be repeated, we didn't want to see her husband again. She said it wouldn't be a problem. I have invited her to numerous family events, and she comes solo, but now she is blaming me for "tearing the family apart." What can I do now, if anything? -- IN A MESS IN CALIFORNIA

DEAR IN A MESS: Your sister is apparently married to an abuser with a short fuse and has resigned herself to it. She has my sympathy, but she should not blame you for any of it. She could really use some help from a support group for abused partners, because things will not get better. If you prefer not to see her horror of a husband, stand your ground and do not allow yourself to be guilted or coerced into it. He owes all of you an apology.

Read more in: Family & Parenting | Holidays & Celebrations | Abuse