I swear I found Love Warrior (2016) by Glennon Doyle on NPR’s List of Best Books, but I just went back to check and couldn’t find it on the list. So now I have no idea where I found it. Love Warrior is a memoir of a life and a marriage. Glennon Doyle grew up in a loving family, but she had Bulimia since she was a child. As she grew older, she also became an alcoholic. Getting married to Craig Melton and becoming a mother was a turning point in her life. She sobered up and she focused on building the perfect family.
Doyle’s seemingly perfect family was shattered when she discovered her husband’s pornography on the family computer as well as his infidelity. She’d focused her life on taking care of her kids. Suddenly she did not have the support of her husband, and she could see the pain she was causing her children. All of her life, Doyle had run from her problems, avoiding and refusing to feel the pain and loneliness that we all go through at some point. But this time, Doyle faced her problems. She went to therapy, allowed herself to feel pain, and worked through a lot of issues with her husband. Doyle also changed her relationship with God and religion, making a more personal relationship with God instead of blindly following the narrow roles prescribed by her church. In some ways, this book turns into a self-help book where Doyle explains what helped her get through her crisis.
There were many things that I liked about this book. Doyle is a good writer, and I admired how she honestly discussed her Bulimia, alcoholism, and downward spiral in high school and college. She ended up in a mental hospital as a teenager, and it was one of the few places she felt safe.
However, some aspects of the second half of this book didn’t work as well for me for a number of reasons. Perhaps most disconcerting was that I googled Glennon Doyle after I began reading because I was curious what she looked like and what she was doing now. I discovered that she is now married to Abby Wambach, a retired, women’s soccer superstar. I thought that was interesting, and I kept expecting her to address it in her book–perhaps even as an explanation as to why her marriage was so difficult. But that never happened–Doyle wrote the book before she met (or at least got serious) with Wambach. The narrative of the book was solely focused on being brave and saving your marriage against all odds. It felt like something was missing. Doyle found a way to forgive and live with her husband again, but even with all the talk of honesty, it seemed that she had not really addressed the problem.
During the breakdown of the marriage, I found myself most often feeling sorry for her husband, Craig. I did not forgive his cheating or lying, but he did not ruin a perfect marriage. Even before they were married, they could not talk to each other and Doyle hated sleeping with him. They’d never really spent time together sober, and the only reason they got married was that Doyle was pregnant again and decided to keep it. It’s a horrible recipe for a marriage, and it is no surprise that it didn’t work out. But Glennon was attacking Craig like he was the only one at fault, which didn’t seem fair–although I do appreciate the honesty in which Doyle described their interactions.
Finally, I am not a religious person, and I can sometimes get frustrated with too much talk of it. I like Doyle’s eventual take on religion where it’s all about love and a personal relationship with God. However, I could not stop from rolling my eyes when she pretends that her decisions are God’s will. Just take credit for your decisions. I don’t understand how people can pretend that God is telling them what to do.
After an entire book about her husband’s betrayal and how they worked out there problems, Doyle leaves him for another woman. It feels like a large part of the story is missing. Doyle never liked sex, was this because of bad experiences? Was it because she was a lesbian but in denial? Doyle has always been religious. If she was attracted to women when she was younger, did the inevitable guilt and denial going along with that contribute to some of her problems growing up? Was she in denial when she was younger or did she honestly develop an attraction out of the blue to Wambach? Despite reading so many of Doyle’s honest confessions, something still felt disingenuous about her memoir. At least right now, Wambach appears to be the happy ending and true partner for Doyle. It would have been a more interesting book to see how she got there.
You can find all of my reviews on my blog.