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A Wife's Guide to In-laws: How to Gain Your Husband's Loyalty Without Killing His Parents Paperback – February 23, 2009
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You married your husband; you didn't plan on marrying his parents. But, like it or not, they're part of your family. In-law problems can plague many marriages because so many couples feel hopeless about making things better. Jenna Barry's witty and insightful book gives hope to women and men who struggle with overbearing, over-involved or downright malicious in-laws. She gives useful, humorous and down-to-earth advice that says: "I've managed to do it, you can do it, too!" A Wife's Guide to In-laws is the Red Bull® of relationship books: it will give you wings. --Dr. Scott Haltzman, Best-selling author of The Secrets of Happily Married Women and The Secrets of Happily Married Men
"Jenna's work has been a beacon of hope for those who struggle with one of the most difficult relationships- the in-laws. Her unique insight gives readers practical, easy-to-follow tips and provides insight on how to deal with `the other half' of one's marriage. Her comprehensive work allows marriages to grow in a positive, yet straightforward manner, which for most can be the number one burden in sharing a life with another. Jenna's work is a must read for those who struggle with mitigating the third wheel and should be the go to source for everything in-laws." --Gabriel Lefrancois, Hitched Magazine -- Hitched Magazine
Jenna D. Barry defines a very common conflict that devastates many marriages and provides step-by-step advice for winning the in-law battle in order to create a better marriage. She deftly mixes wisdom with touches of humor to lift the tone of what could be a stressful how-to for many couples. Although we like to have advice from experts in a given field (and this book contains such), we also like to learn from people who have "been there, done that." The strength of this book is its author's experience: she actually DID what she's talking about--she gained her husband's loyalty--and now shares her successful methods with others facing the same issues in their lives. She establishes credibility with readers as she describes feelings they have and her first-hand knowledge of what they are going through. Jenna offers a wide range of advice, varying in degrees of firmness, and encourages the reader to decide what will be most effective for her particular situation.
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My second husband has a much harder time setting boundaries with his parents. I tried working things out with them on my own and it led to them completely cutting me off. They have a difficult time openly talking about things, they prefer to sweep things under the rug while having everything their way. Since we've been married, three years now, they haven't called our home phone line once. They make no effort to get to know me. I met my husband in the military and we never lived in their state, so making an effort has been key to bonding as a family. Unless we live near them, they seem to have no interest in having anything to do with me. They only seem to care about their son, calling his cell and emailing and Facebooking him only. It's hurtful, like I don't exist. I eventually just gave up. My husband is too filled with guilt, being codependent with them, to communicate openly with them about how life is different now that he's married. So the dysfunction carries on, which is why I ordered this book.
So that's the only point I strongly disagree with, that the wife should take responsibility for her in-laws dysfunctional behavior. It's up to the man to heal his relationship with his own parents and set boundaries to protect his marriage. I have experienced, from example here, that is far more effective and less stressful for the wife. And the husband has an opportunity to heal his relationship with his parents. A wife is inheriting a problem that already existed between the son and his parents in the form of weak boundaries, trauma, codependency, mental illness, addiction, whatever. It's not her responsibility to do her husband's healing work. He'll never learn how to have a healthier relationship with his parents that way or begin his own healing process.
This book is humorous and calming. The author describes different "types" of in-laws. Mine are not-so-great white sharks. It is not a boring read. I can say that the strategies suggested in the book are very helpful in assisting me to change my own behavior. As a result, I can already see tiny changes in my spouse's behavior. I am less critical of his parents in his presence and he is finally standing up for me to them. It's a hard road but I am starting to see a light at the end of the tunnel and our marriage is greatly improved from several weeks ago. (before the book) There are worksheets in the back of the book which I did not find helpful at all (which is why I don't give 5 stars). There is also two chapters specifically geared towards your spouse.
Your age doesn't matter, if you are going to inherit a mother-in-law, make this small investment into you sanity. Being aware is half the battle, empowering yourself is the the other half. And...good luck.