This American Ex-Wife: How I Ended My Marriage and Started My Life
May 2, 2024 1:59 PM - Subscribe

"Studies show that nearly 70 percent of divorces are initiated by women--women who are tired, fed up, exhausted, and unhappy. We've all seen how the media portrays divorcées: sad, lonely, drowning their sorrows in a bottle of wine. Lyz Lenz is one such woman whose life fell apart after she reached a breaking point in her twelve-year marriage. But she refused to take part in that tired narrative and decided to flip the script on divorce." (From

"In this exuberant and unapologetic book, Lenz makes an argument for the advantages of getting divorced, framing it as a practical and effective solution for women to take back the power they are owed. Weaving reportage with sociological research and literature with popular culture along with personal stories of coming together and breaking up, Lenz creates a kaleidoscopic and poignant portrait of American marriage today. She argues that the mechanisms of American power, justice, love, and gender equality remain deeply flawed, and that marriage, like any other cultural institution, is due for a reckoning. A raucous argument for acceptance, solidarity, and collective female refusal, This American Ex-Wife takes readers on a riveting ride--while pointing us all toward a life that is a little more free. "

Lyz Lenz previously:
It Took Divorce to Make My Marriage Equal
What about us quitters?

I'm a Great Cook. Now That I'm Divorced, I'm Never Making Dinner for a Man Again (Glamour, 2018)
posted by MonkeyToes (5 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
The thing that made me the angriest about Lenz's book is the story of her missing objects, little things that she loved, and that her husband didn't like. They'd go missing and he would call her forgetful. Surely, he said, she had just misplaced her favorite WRITE LIKE A MOTHERFUCKER mug? One day she was rooting around in the basement of their house, and there they were: all of her favorites, in a box, in the deepest, darkest, least accessible corner. She confronted him about it. He didn't like those things, he told her. Disapproved of them. But he promised not to do it again.

You can guess what happened six months later, this time with a DRINK UP, WITCHES decorative sign.

And that was it. The End. It wasn't a little pet canary that he killed, and she didn't commit justifiable homicide, but that was the moment of Done.

The book is packed with statistics and arguments, as well as personal reflections about the end of her own marriage, but it's this story that won't leave me. Why were his comfort and happiness more important than hers? Why did his preferences take precedence? Why did he feel entitled to do that?

It's a more polemical approach to divorce than, say, Leslie Jamison's Splinters: Another Kind of Love Story (NPR, LARB, Kirkus), which is much more inwardly focused. There's a good passage about telling the truth about a marriage as a kind of deconstruction, and I almost wish she had done even more of that (not trashing the kids' dad, sigh, I get it). But I like the focus on divorce as an unapologetic choice that improved aspects her life.
posted by MonkeyToes at 1:17 PM on May 3 [9 favorites]

I've been meaning to read this one. Thanks for the reminder.
posted by humbug at 1:08 PM on May 4

I really enjoyed this book and dear lord I kinda wish I'd read it before I got married. My husband hasn't hid my things, but he definitely has been socialized to prioritize his needs above mine and it's a constant source of irritation. Not gonna lie, I read this book hoping it would talk me down off the divorce ledge but it may have made me step a bit closer and peer over.
posted by teleri025 at 10:10 AM on May 7 [2 favorites]

This is my to-read list. Thanks for giving me a push.
posted by ceejaytee at 10:37 AM on May 7

Still mulling this one. I think I needed less TED talk (shorthand for a format that has become over-used) and more specific deconstruction of the dynamics of her marriage? This felt a little under-baked, though I have trouble saying why. I'm interested in the question of whose needs get prioritized and why and how, like how does that happen? Lenz talks about having arrived there, but there's not a focus on the process, which I think I would have found helpful. (Boiling frog, I know, but surely somebody has written this?)
posted by MonkeyToes at 4:50 PM on May 7 [2 favorites]

« Older Movie: The Idea of You...   |  Special Event: The Mads: She S... Newer »

You are not logged in, either login or create an account to post comments