Amy Dickinson is a general advice columnist.
DEAR AMY:My sister, who is in her 50s, separated from her husband of 35-plus years. He was emotionally, verbally and physically abusive to her, both privately and publicly. Not long after they separated, he had lifesaving surgery, and she was with him all the way. However, since then nothing much else seems to have changed. He's at her apartment, and she is at his frequently. My sister expects our family to continue to invite him to all the family gatherings and holidays just like we did when they lived together. If we do not invite him, she says she will not attend. He can be charming at times but also rude, inconsiderate and disrespectful to our family. Although we wish him well, most of us would prefer not to see him. I asked her recently what being separated means to her. She replied that it means she can't live with him. She talks as though not including him would be ungenerous. I feel like I'm being held hostage to this relationship. What can we do?--Frustrated Family
DEAR FRUSTRATED: Your sister is more concerned about her abusive husband's comfort than yours. Keep this in mind.
Now that these two are separated and your sister has a home of her own, you no longer need to treat them as a family unit. The generous thing to do is to give him an opportunity to behave well, along with a clear heads-up about how things are going to go in your home from now on.
If you host Thanksgiving dinner this year, contact him separately and say, "Steve, we've tolerated years of abuse, disrespect and other nonsense from you. We had to because you were married to my sister. But from now on you should be on your best behavior while at my home. If you behave in any way I find objectionable, I will ask you to leave."
If he behaves badly, ask him to leave, and if your sister insists on going with him, simply tell her, "Do whatever you want to do. I completely understand."