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Toxic In-laws [Hardcover]

Susan Forward
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)

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Book Description

9 May 2002

Are your in-laws poisoning your marriage?
Bestselling author Susan Forward shows you how to manage their behavior without jeopardizing your relationship with your spouse.

Toxic in-laws come in a variety of guises. There's the Critic, who can't wait to tell you what you're doing wrong: the Controller, who tries to run your life; the Engulfer, who makes constant demands on your time; and the Master of Chaos, whose numerous problems inevitably end up in your lap. If you're suffering from these or from any other type of infuriating in-laws, your frustration is likely affecting your relationship with your spouse. This remarkable book will help.

With equal doses of understanding and advice, Susan Forward helps you navigate the treacherous waters of toxic in-laws. She explains the unique complexities of the in-law problem, a triangle that forces you and your spouse into a tug-of-war of loyalty and support. She shows how in-laws often manipulate their children to get what they want, and helps you understand the difficulties this poses for your partner.

Drawing from real-life stories of men and women struggling to free themselves from their in-laws' destructive behavior, Forward offers highly effective strategies for getting your partner to stand up for you, for setting reasonable limits, and, most importantly, for protecting your marriage. Her techniques and strategies may not transform your toxic in-laws into the in-laws of your dreams, but they will help you maintain your sanity, self-respect, and, best of all, your relationship with the person with whom you've chosen to share your life.

--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.


Product details

  • Hardcover: 286 pages
  • Publisher: HarperCollins; 1 edition (9 May 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0060196815
  • ISBN-13: 978-0060196813
  • Product Dimensions: 23.6 x 15.2 x 2.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 487,121 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

About the Author

Susan Forward, Ph.D., is an internationally acclaimed therapist, lecturer, and author. Her books -- which include the #1 New York Times bestsellers Men Who Hate Women and the Women Who Love Them and Toxic Parents, as well as Emotional Blackmail, Obsessive Love, Betrayal of Innocence, and Money Demons -- have been translated into more than fifteen languages. In addition to more than twenty years in private practice, she has served as a group therapist, instructor, and consultant in many Southern California medical and psychiatric facilities.She is much sought after as a guest in the media, and she hosted a daily national call-in radio program on ABC talk radio for six years. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
30 of 30 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars If only I had read this book 14 years ago! 31 Oct 2006
By Tracy
Format:Paperback
Unlike the other book though, this book will help men and women alike. It is not aimed only at daughter-in-laws, but rather at daughter-in-laws and son-in-laws alike.

The book is crammed full of really useful and constructive advice about what you are entitled to expect from your in-laws (e.g. respect and to be treated as the equal adult that you are), what you are NOT entitled to expect (e.g. you cannot assume/expect that they will love you, but similarly of course, they cannot assume/expect that you will love them), how to deal with them constructively and in a non-aggressive, non-conflicting manner, how to get your spouse on side if he/she is not standing up to his/her parents/your in-laws, and so on.

The book discusses realistic and unrealistic expectations and explains how our unrealistic expectations can hinder the development of a decent relationship with our in-laws. It helps you to understand why they treat you like they do, shows you through real-life accounts that you could have even nastier (or messed up) in-laws (yes, there really are people worse off than you, which I found reassuring and which helped me to put things in perspective), and most importantly of all, it gives you solid, concrete advice about how to approach them from now on, as the "new you", i.e. as the equal adult that you are, even if they seem to think of you as otherwise!

As with all self-help books, this book will only help you if you are willing to really delve deeply into yourself and examine your own past behaviour. If you refuse to believe that you are anything except an absolutely perfect human being who has never done or said anything that could have been misinterpreted, then this book will not help you.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not suitable when you have REALLY toxic in-laws! 28 April 2012
By Fairy Godmother TOP 1000 REVIEWER
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I bought this based on reviews and hoping to learn some strategies for handling a particularly awful brother-in-law who has too much control in our lives.

The conclusion I came to, and the comments near the end of the book, were - some cases are beyond hope! I'd have liked more suggestions and strategies than that!

Many of the examples weren't that bad in my view, just the usual family difficulty type things that could be dealt with, even if annoying.

And not many strategies mentioned at all. Mostly examples of cases.

It also only deals with parents-in-law.
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Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
After having read 'Toxic Parents', I was very pleased to find this book, and knew immediately it would live up to the same standard. I wasn't disappointed. For those of us unlucky enough to be 'blessed' with difficult and even down right thoroughly toxic in-laws, this book not only helps the reader to feel less alone in their plight, but gives useful insight and practical advice, tips, and step-by-step guidance in dealing with such harridans. Beware - it's more than likely to stir up some difficult memories and inner turmoil, but one is so much more enlightened, forewarned, and empowered upon reaching the end of the book.
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Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I have read this book twice! Not only does it offer lots of useful strategies for dealing with jealous and insecure inlaws but it also offers lots of reassurance that this is actually a very common inlaw reaction and you are not, in fact, a terrible person! Brilliant book.
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Amazon.com: 4.4 out of 5 stars  74 reviews
202 of 209 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Excellent Insights But Lacking In Helpful Advice 25 Oct 2005
By Sister Renee Pittelli - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I often recommend Susan Forward's other books, "Toxic Parents" and "Emotional Blackmail" in my ministry for adult children of abusive or controlling birth-families (Luke 17:3 Ministries). I read "Toxic In-Laws" in the hopes of adding yet another dimension to the damage overbearing or controlling parents can do to your life.

I liked how the book started out, describing the types of toxic in-laws, which include Critics, Engulfers, Controllers. Rejectors, and Masters of Chaos. The analysis of why they behave this way was right on. Examples of the reasons why include concern over "what people will think", a missing empathy gene, holding onto your partner (their child) at all costs, acting out old scripts, and exorcising their demons by attacking you. The author is so right when she warns young marrieds that if they think the in-laws are controlling now, just wait till the grandkids come along! She teaches us that although many of us cling to the false hope that "once they get to know me, they'll like me", time doesn't help and usually worsens the hostility.

We are shown that we are part of a triangle- often viewed as competition by our spouses' parents. Many times they don't like that they now have to deal with you, and that their issues are no longer just between them and their child. They know you influence their child and are angry that their child has "left them" for you. They may have rigid opinions, think they know everything and you (and/or their child) know nothing , and will distort reality to make it conform to their truth.

Unfortunately, the child of such in-laws usually does not stand up for his or her spouse. The spouse is left feeling like an outsider with everyone against her. She often feels totally betrayed by a spouse who lets his parents criticize, insult, or abuse her.

Much of the rest of the book is devoted to enlisting your spouse as an ally so that you can make a united front against his parents' behavior. Unfortunately, in my ministry experience, most attempts at getting your partner to stand up to his parents and defend you will fail, but I agree that it's worth a shot, before taking matters into your own hands. I wouldn't go so far as to call it a waste, but I did feel that the author devoted a great deal of time to strategies for getting your spouse to support you, when what he will really need before he can stand up to his parents, is years of therapy!

There is an empowering chapter on rights and responsibilities. Many of us ask ourselves if we have the right to upset everyone, to speak up to our in-laws when they hurt us even though they're not our parents, to put our spouse in the middle, or to expect him to take our side.

The author lists our rights as a person and with our spouse, which include the right to be treated with respect, to protect your own emotional health, to get angry, to raise your children without interference, to change your mind, to express your own feelings and opinions, to set guidelines with your partner for your household and have them honored, to protest to your partner when his parents hurt you, to expect your partner to put you first, etc.

Our rights with our in-laws include the right to say no, to disagree, to not love them, to let them know when they've offended you, to have them stay out of problems between you and your husband, to set limits on how much time you spend with them, to take an active part in how holidays are celebrated, etc.

We are warned that although these rights are a matter of freedom and common sense, everyone resists change. Accepting the fact that in many cases, we will be standing up to our in-laws alone, the author prepares us for confrontation by teaching us the skill of non-defensive communication in setting limits on our in-laws and their behavior. She teaches us how to stand fast against their reactions, and appropriate responses when they pull out the big guns such as denial, anger, playing the martyr, or accusing us of being the problem.

Sometimes we will set limits on our in-laws (or parents) and they will not respond at all. We may not hear from them again. We may be confused and wonder what is going on. But the author tells us that "No answer is the loudest answer of all." We are helped to accept that sometimes nothing will get resolved, but that will be their failure, not ours. The important thing is that we hold to our truth and live in peace, with or without them.
88 of 91 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Helped me diffuse my angry feelings 11 May 2003
By Say Grace - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
Let me begin by saying there isn't a book by Susan Forward that isn't very helpful in making you understand what the problem really is and how to make it better. Her book on verbal abuse was so excellent. I think I have read ALL of her books. What makes this book great is that she gives numerous examples of different couples and their in-law problems so there is a very good probability you will find your specific problem in the book. The strategies given are ones you may not have even considered in your frustration of dealing with your obnoxious self centered in law(s). I was very angry before I read this, now I'm just mildly amused. I won't be controlled with my own resentments/emotions any more. Susan will help you understand their ... little world of either not being able to "share" the love, or whatever unresolved mess is in their minds, so you wont/dont take it personally.
40 of 40 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A great deal of help! 11 Jan 2007
By Cherry - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
If you have a husband you don't understand and a mother in law you'd like to take out (and we aren't talking dinner) this book will do a great deal for you. It's very helpful in understanding the cycle of mental abuse your spouse has endured and why they simply cannot see things in the same light as you. It gives good advice on how to set your own boundaries and when to let things go. Certainly worth buying, especially if your marriage is in trouble b/c of a nasty inlaw.
72 of 77 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not a Book for Everyone 25 Oct 2005
By Amy - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
I purchased this book on the advise of friends in dealing with my mother-inlaw. I didn't find this book useful in my situation. It seems very geared for those who do not have supportive spouses (i.e. the spouse sides with his/her parents).

My husband has always stuck up for me with his mother. I was really looking for something to help me deal with her on my own, and as a couple. Although we attempt to set boundaries with her, we're finding it increasingly difficult. This book didn't really help me with that aspect. It has a lot to do with communicating with your spouse.

I think if you're in a situation where your spouse doesn't stand up to their parents or side with you, then this book will probably work for you.
58 of 62 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Another Winner for Susan Forward 26 Mar 2002
By mholliday - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
Toxic In-Laws is another winner for Susan Forward, PhD. This book takes the problems she addressed in "Toxic People" and "Toxic Parents" to a new level. She explores how particularly destructive a toxic in-law can be to a marriage. I shared this book with my husband to back-up what I've been saying for years, i.e. it is something that we have to deal with or it will destroy us. We have to remember that whenever we have an argument about her, she wins. Whenever we can work together, stand united, and place each other first, we win. Thanks to Susan Forward, PhD., I have a perspective on the situation I didn't have before and some tools to use when problems arise. I highly recommend this book.
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