Glennon Doyle Melton of “Carry On, Warrior” and “Momastery” fame has returned with a new bestseller: the devastatingly honest “Love Warrior”. Melton takes the reader into her experience of understanding from a young age that it was not safe to be herself or to be in her body. She narrates her descent into bulimia, impersonal sex and addiction, and how close she came to losing her family and herself before a crisis happened that changed all her plans: she got pregnant, and decided to keep the baby and get sober. Her boyfriend decided to step up and propose. They got married, and started a family.
But, as Melton discovered, the wedding isn’t the finish line. And there was a whole other series of lessons to learn about herself, about her husband, and about love before she could find the happiness she thought would be waiting on the other side of the wedding ring. Indeed, as their three children grew, Melton found herself further and further away from her husband. The two were not able to understand each other’s emotional needs, let alone meet them. Finally, she found herself in crisis again, but this time, instead of being the anchor that helped her find a way to move forward, her marriage and family were the very things drawn into question: her husband had been repeatedly unfaithful to her.
“Love Warrior” is the story of doing the painful, overwhelming work of showing up, moment by moment, to find one’s truth in the midst of suffering, to gain understanding, and to deeply contemplate the nature of divine unconditional love when one feels so unloved. It tackles the questions of what it means to love and to be truly intimate. Both Melton and her husband commit and step up to being fully present for themselves and each other. Her husband literally turns his life around, courageously workshopping his porn addiction in therapy, and serves their family selflessly. Melton finally finds the ability to be fully present in her body, to enjoy food and intimacy. As “Love Warrior” ends, you get the sense that both she and her husband have travelled long and arduous journeys and finally come to a place of redemption for their marriage, a place where they can make a more healthy beginning together.
But the story doesn’t end there. After “Love Warrior” had already gone to print, after the publicity schedules had already been drawn up, Melton stunned her blog readers with the news that after all that, she and her husband were separating. With book sales on the line, with the apparent narrative of “Love Warrior” called into question, Melton might well have been tempted to keep the end of her marriage under wraps until the book had hit the market and the sales been racked up. But that would be turning her back on the commitment she had made to be honest with her readers. So, knowing the damage it could do to the book’s sales, knowing the deluge of judgment and criticism that would (and did) show up in the comments, she came forward anyway.
The end of “Love Warrior” sees Melton and her husband having finally reached a healthy baseline from which a relationship could grow. But I’m reminded of W. Somerset Maugham’s quote, “We are not the same persons this year as last; nor are those we love. It is a happy chance if we, changing, continue to love a changed person.” The kind of radical transformation Melton has undergone can result in new-found incompatibility with the partner sought before the transformation, even if that partner has made quantum shifts too. Getting to a healthy baseline doesn’t mean you’re with the right person. And as Melton has put it, that doesn’t mean the marriage failed, so much as that, perhaps, its work is now complete. Ultimately, to be a warrior for love means to show up for what the moment contains, instead of remaining attached to an outcome. In any case, the end of Melton’s marriage is between her and her husband and their God. But it in no way undermines the validity of the journey of “Love Warrior.”
Pranada Devi got a degree in music before realizing she was better at communications than at singing opera. Her art song translations are still in demand on the lieder.net database. She is the Managing Editor of Parvati Magazine, and the Communications Manager for Kupid’s Play Records. In addition, she is the editor for Parvati’s forthcoming books “Confessions of a Former Yoga Junkie” and “Aonani and the Emissary of the Blue Star”.