Snow White Doesn't Live Here Anymore

Laughter, pleasure, malice, and the pursuit of adult fun

6 Rules For Happy Daughters-in-Law: For Royals and Other

What should you accept--and reject--as a daughter-in-law?

Kate Middleton is not the only one who needs advice on how to handle a "Royal Family." Sometimes the family you marry into can be a Royal Pain, but they often--somehow--think of themselves as ruling the kingdom.

How can a smart woman deal with her role as a daughter-in-law? She needs, of course, a sense of humor.

And she needs to know she's not alone.

Every daughter-in-law knows that she's facing the process of being examined, judged, and evaluated by her in-laws-- not only from head to toe but from also from her teeth to her thoughts on theology.

Here are a few pointers on how way to be gracious when handling the Court (and helping all couples avoid divorce courts) :

1. Pay Homage to the Bloodline. Translation: You are not part of the Real Family: accept this. You will never been given the exact recipe for any family favorite: there will always been one key ingredient omitted or several degrees altered in terms of temperature. You are close to, but not part of , the original tribe. They will never say as much (unless they are descendant of one of the wilder, ethnic tribes, in which case they said it to your face the first time they met you) but you should not fool yourself. Do what you do best: be a fabulously desirable and irreplaceable addition to the clan. Do not attempt to blend.

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2. Respect Most Traditions. Translation: Although you don't have to adapt entirely-see #1-it would be wise to be appreciative of the Old Ways. They meet for dinner once a week? Go and eat heartily. They live in what they consider to be a Castle? Admire the paintings over the sofa-or the throne. They want you to be a virgin? Tell them to go soak their heads. Some traditions are simply so outdated, so invasive, or so inexplicably controlling that they don't merit respect. Choose your battles wisely.

3.     There Is No "King Charming." Translation: You get what you get, so if you marry Prince Charming, don't expect to get a King. Prince Charming a polygamist, the main figure of one of those cults where there are 758 kids, and women all have the unibrow and wear Little House on the Prairie throwback dresses.  Prince Charming marries Snow White, Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty, and for all we know, he's also knocked up Mother Goose. He's made all these fairy tale babes sister-wives in a sort of weird Big Love fiasco. Who knows? Maybe he's responsible for all those children who live in a shoe. This guy is not king material. You want a king? Become a Queen and you can crown your mate.

4.     Wear Comfortable Shoes. Translation: Don't parade around like a circus pony; make sure that you are at ease and in your comfort zone. Nobody wants you to be off-balance even if they expect you to be on your toes.

5.     What Happens in the Family Stays in the Family. Translation: Nobody likes a tattle-tale, snitch, or a gossip. If you need to address an issue, make sure you do so at the home address before going elsewhere. Unless it's emotionally harmful, psychologically damaging, or illegal in more than three states, try to deal with it among family members before taking it public.

6.     Whenever You Can Manage It, Enjoy Yourself, Have a Laugh, and Smile. Translation: There's no reason to be in an intimate relationship with anybody-serf, servant, ruler, or regular guy--unless you you're having a good time. While not everyday can be something out of a fairy tale (okay, very few can), you should at least be able to get a good, funny story out of it to share with those you love. Let them know it.

 

Gina Barreca, Ph.D., is Professor of English at UConn, and author of It's Not That I'm Bitter: How I Learned to Stop Worrying About Visible Panty Lines and Conquered the World.

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