Prof. Terry Hahn
17 February 2009
Critique of Alix Kates Shulman’s “A Marriage Agreement”
Alix Kates Shulman proves herself to be a problem solver at heart when she comes up with her marriage proposal in her famous document entitled, “A Marriage Agreement.” Shulman seeks to find some serenity in her newly chaotic life, and it is admirable on her part that she was able to find it. She has valid arguments against the typical house mother roles, and she offers constructive methods of change, that in her experience, have been found to be irrefutably effective.
Ms. Shulman speaks in the first portion of her article of her easy life before children, then moves on to supply us as readers with the burdens of motherhood. Most families, especially in this time period functioned in much the same way as Shulman first did. Husbands worked late and spent little time with the kids, while the mothers did the majority of the housework and childcare. In my own experience, both my parents worked full time, and I can still remember my mother doing the majority of the housework, as well as cooking for us and packing our lunches. In the cases of both Schulman and my own parents, a change was needed to ensure a relatively stress-free existence.
It is no surprise, however, that this piece of writing received flack from other sides. Male and female roles have been set in place for centuries, probably dating back to when men were purely warriors and leaders, and females were simply the child bearers. Being the breadwinner of a family may be important, but it is no replacement for time spent among a family. It also may be the case that critics of this document feel that a proposal would not be particularly effective in a majority of situations. I think the point Shulman really tries to make though is that a proposal such as this CAN work, though it does not have to be exactly like hers. It should be tailor made to the individual relationship. Agreements...