"We make sure the kids' lives are as least disrupted as possible," says soccer icon Abby Wambach about married life in a blended family with the bestselling author

By Aili Nahas
May 28, 2020 10:54 AM
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Melissa Lyttle

When Abby Wambach fell in love with best-selling author Glennon Doyle, the retired World Cup soccer champ found an unexpected joy in the family she never knew she needed.

"Before I met Glennon, I was living fast and hard," Wambach, 39, tells PEOPLE in the new issue out Friday. Now "bonus mom" to Doyle's three children—Chase, 17, Tish, 14 and Amma, 12—with her ex-husband Craig Melton, Wambach adds: “The kids and Glennon have taught me everything.”

Wambach and Doyle, who are self-isolating at home in Naples, Fla., spoke in a joint interview via Zoom—coincidentally, on their third wedding anniversary—to promote Doyle's latest bestselling book, Untamed. In the memoir, Doyle, 44, recounts how she fell fast for Wambach when the pair crossed paths at a literary conference in 2016—and how she subsequently decided to end her 14-year marriage to Melton, a former model.

“The decision about whether to stay in my broken marriage or go with Abby didn’t feel just about love,” Doyle tells PEOPLE. "It was about am I going to abandon myself or be wild enough to abandon everyone’s expectations of me?”

The pair, who are both sober after years of struggle with addiction, wed in 2017, and have made their new blended family a priority.

“Divorce is difficult,” says Wambach, who was previously married to soccer player Sarah Huffman for three years. “But Craig, Glennon and I make a choice every day. We make sure that the kids’ lives are as least disrupted as possible.”

Glennon Doyle/Instagram

That daily commitment “shows up in the way we treat each other,” says Wambach, who coached Tish’s soccer team with Melton. “We’re in constant communication.”

Being a parent, or “bonus mom” to the kids, “has changed my perspective,” says Wambach. “I didn’t know how to be one. I had the instinct but I grew up in a very different family than the one that Glennon and I are creating.”

Ultimately, “Craig gave me the biggest gift in allowing me into the family dynamic,” says Wambach. “He gave the kids permission to love me.”

For more of PEOPLE's interview with Doyle and Wambach, including at-home photos, pick up the new issue on newsstands Friday.