The most important thing in the world to me today is that you understand what my fierce, tender warrior heart is saying to your fierce, tender warrior heart in this essay.
It has come to my very concerned attention that since:
- My new book Love Warrior is about my husband’s infidelity (we’re just gonna keep saying that out loud ‘till it gets less scary); and
- We are still married,
There is some confusion about my beliefs and Love Warrior’s message on marriage, infidelity, divorce, and redemption.
I received these brutiful emails (and more like them) from my fellow sister Love Warriors since announcing my new book last week:
“My life was shattered in a million pieces when my “perfect” “doting” “amazing dad” of a husband decided he was done with me and the kids. You, my church, my tribe of sisters, and most of all God have healed me. I so badly want to read your new book but…will it apply to someone who’s marriage wasn’t healed? I just don’t know if your new book is for people like me, I want it to be.”
“I am so happy for you and your marriage—and that you’ve written the story of its redemption. I’m sure it will encourage those of us who are still striving for that. I’m just so scared and exhausted from the struggle—what if my marriage is never redeemed? What does my road look like of it doesn’t match yours?”
After walking through Sister’s divorce and remarriage, my own separation and reconciliation, and reading the stories from women around the globe about love lost and found, I have come to believe this:
I do not believe that every marriage should be saved. I’ve seen too much and listened too hard to believe that. I do not value marriage more than I value the individual souls inside of marriage. And I do not judge a love’s worth by how it ends. I do not. I believe that NO LOVE IS WASTED. Love is worthy of the time and sweat and tears it takes from us simply because it changes both lovers forever—whether they stay or go.
I stayed. For many reasons—most of which can’t even be put into words they’re so visceral and true and low and high.
Sister left. For many reasons—most of which can’t even be put into words they’re so visceral and true and low and high.
We both did the right thing. We both poured the same amount of love and hope and work into our marriages—one that ended and one that began again.
Listen to me: Some loves are perennials—they survive the winter and bloom again. Other loves are annuals—beautiful and lush and full for a season and then back to the Earth to die and create richer soil for new life to grow. The eventual result of both types of plants is New Life.
New life for annual and perennial plants. New love for annual and perennial loves. Nothing wasted. No such thing as failure. Love never fails. Never never. Are you still married? Your love did not fail. Are you divorced? Once? Twice? A third time? Your love did not fail. It made you who you are inside of THIS VERY moment. Love never fails.
When Craig and I separated, I was approached by groups asking me to be a poster girl for Leaving.
When we reunited, I was approached by groups asking me to be a poster girl for Staying.
HELL NO. I said to all the groups.
Here is what I will be the poster girl for:
Does a Love Warrior Go? YES. If that’s what her deepest wisdom tells her to do. Does a Love Warrior Stay? YES. If that’s what her deepest wisdom tells her to do. Both roads are hard. AND BOTH ROADS LEAD TO REDEMPTION.
And one more thing, my beloveds. Let’s together pledge to quit wringing our hands and rolling our eyes and throwing out sweeping judgments like these:
People just throw away marriages these days.
It’s so sad, how easily marriages are discarded.
People used to fight for their marriages.
Sigh. Another one bites the dust. Pathetic, really.
These ridiculous things are insults to every woman and every man who has fought and loved and cried and struggled and tried, tried, tried and still discovered that their love was an annual.
I have met hundreds, thousands of women whose marriages ended. Not a single one of them “threw away her marriage.” Women treasure their marriages. That divorced friend of ours treasured her marriage as much as we treasure ours. Let’s not add insult to her injury by suggesting that her marriage didn’t survive because of a lack of caring. I have held women’s hands while they cried and I listened, listened, listened and I have found that to be true this many times: ZERO. Never. We must stop throwing around judgmental daggers like those silly proclamations. There but for the grace of God go we: TRUST ME ON THAT ONE.
When a sister makes a choice—or is left without a choice—and she stays, or she goes, this is what we do: We take her by the hand and we have her back—knowing that more blood and sweat and tears went into that choice or lack of choice then we can imagine. Knowing that her reasons are likely too true and deep and low and high for words.
We do not require from her an explanation. We require from ourselves SISTERHOOD.
To answer your questions: Love Warrior is not how I saved my marriage, for God’s sake.
It’s about how I begged God for an answer to this question:
IS THERE ANYONE WHO WON’T BETRAY ME?
And how over time, God said:
YES, GLENNON. THERE IS. LOOK IN THAT MIRROR.
YOU WON’T BETRAY YOU.
Let us become women who refuse to betray ourselves no matter WHO. DOES. WHAT.
I love you more than is appropriate or logical.
P.S. This part is really important to me and it will make some people angry and I don’t care.
Dearest, Precious Beloveds who cheated, the “other women”:
You are safe with me—and you are safe with us—and you are safe with this book.
The hardest, best thing I’ve ever learned in my life—the truth that this brutal time taught me is this: There IS NO forgiveness for me unless there is forgiveness for all. Grace cannot be personal if it is not universal. You cannot receive grace without disclaimers if you do not offer grace without disclaimers.
So listen to me: Maybe you got sex confused with love. I get that because I got booze confused with love for decades. And I hurt people I love, too. And I really, really need you to know that to me the world is not divided into the wives and the other women. Just not at all, anymore. I put us all into one big flailing heap of folks desperate for love—and sometimes settling for dangerous almost love. And then forgiving ourselves, and trying again—trying better, trying truer.
And to those who were cheated on—who are not yet ready to forgive: You are safe with me, too. Love is patient. Release will come when it comes and it will not come one second too early or late. Let the pain do its work. We will wait forever.
SISTER ON, MY LOVE WARRIOR ARMY. HOLD HANDS WITHOUT CHECKING TO SEE WHO’S HAND YOU’RE HOLDING AND MARCH FORWARD, TOGETHER. WE CAN DO HARD THINGS BECAUSE WE BELONG TO EACH OTHER.