RAISING THE BAR – A Lawyer’s Memoir by Ruth Rymer

Tackling Disparity in Divorce: How attorney/author Ruth Rymer advocated for women’s rights

There are so many women in the world doing courageous things who deserve a shout-out, but this column focuses on just one. In her new memoir, Raising the Bar, Ruth Rymer deconstructs how she went from bullied spouse to an attorney instrumental in establishing family law as California’s fourth certified legal specialty.

Marriage in the 1950s and early 1960s produced wives and mothers with little personal power. Stay-at-home wives — including my own mother — had no agency.  If a woman refused to abide by her husband’s wishes, or even leave, she could very well find herself homeless and without her children. Also like my mom, Ruth endured the bizarre whims and demands of a doctor/husband who took himself too seriously.

Ruth’s mother and psychiatrist father opposed her dating Sherwin Miller when they realized he was Jewish; they believed it would lower their family’s status in the community. Ruth couldn’t tolerate such prejudice and married Sherwin in 1951, “gaining a husband and losing a family.” She’d given up everything for him.

While Sherwin pursued a medical degree and later became a physician, Ruth stopped working in 1958, when the first of their three children was born. It was then that Sherwin began exhibiting narcissism. By 1964, he was having affairs, not only cheating on Ruth but manipulating her until she felt powerless. For many years, she writes, it was like living in a boxing ring. Still, she was adamant about getting her education. 

Read the rest of my article at Washington Independent Review of Books.