I am honored to introduce author/speaker and fellow Redbud writer, Elisabeth Klein Corcoran who just released her new book, Unraveling: Holding on to Your Faith through the End of a Christian Marriage. And before some people get too nervous, I affirm that Elisabeth has a high view of the marriage covenant. Unfortunately, because we as Christians remain in a fallen world where people continuously choose to sin, some marriages are forced to necessary endings. When divorce happens in the church, we need a better way of listening and supporting those who have already been grievously hurt in the process. It is why this understanding that I have interviewed Elisabeth concerning her new book and the Hot Topic of divorce.
Answer: It’s basically a road map of emotions taking women through the really hard journey of a Christian marriage coming to an end. I encourage women to feel every single feeling they’ve got, pretty much for as long as they need to.
What led you to write this book?
A: I was in a difficult marriage for almost nineteen years, which included a separation and fifteen-month church-led reconciliation attempt that unfortunately ended in a divorce. My divorce didn’t just break my heart. It broke my life. And writing this book was part of my healing.
There are a lot of books on divorce out there. What’s different about yours?
A: There are a ton! And I read most of them! But each one I read was written after the fact. And don’t get me wrong; that was great. It was good and important for me to see that there was hope and joy and light down the road for me. But I began writing this book at the beginning of my separation and all the way through my divorce, putting the finishing touches on it one year after my divorce was final. So it was me – raw, uncensored basically – through the entire journey; not six months after the fact. I had been looking for a book that would sort of hold my hand through being handed the divorce papers to walking out of court unmarried to lying in bed all day to finally, maybe getting back on with life, a little bit at a time. And when I couldn’t find that book, I wrote that book.
What words do you offer to women who are contemplating divorce?
A: Yes, tread carefully. Do not rush into any decisions. Divorce is not life-ending – though it can feel that way at times – but it is life-changing. If you are in a difficult marriage, you absolutely must reach out for help. Either someone at church in leadership who you really trust, a counselor (yes, you can go to marriage counseling by yourself), a small group Bible study, a twelve-step group, a mentor. And if the advice you’re getting doesn’t resonate with Scripture or doesn’t seem to help, then tell someone else until you get the help you need. Do not make the decision to divorce lightly, in isolation, or without trying everything you could to do to save the marriage.
And to the women who are divorcing?
A: Just know that it may get worse before it gets better, but it will get better, I promise. God has walked me through this so gently. There has been so much pain and many moments when I felt utterly alone, and yet I believe that he has been with me during this entire thing…hard marriage all the way through now. So, basically, it won’t always be this hard, and you are not alone.
Anything you wish the Church knew about women in hard marriages or those going through divorces?
A: This topic could be an entire book itself! I have heard many great stories of supportive churches and I personally had a ninety-five percent great experience with my church and with other Christians. But people are human and don’t always know what to say or do in rough situations, which is totally understandable. I would say to the Church regarding women in difficult marriages: believe them when they come to you to ask for help. Odds are, you are their last hope…they have tried everything else…and if they are coming to you, they are desperate. Handle their hearts gently. And I would say to the Church regarding women who are divorcing or divorced: don’t judge them. We are already carrying around the weight of the world on our shoulders and the weight of guilt and shame, no matter how we found ourselves in this place. Grace is what we need and grace is what will bring us farther along in our healing. Judgment never healed anyone; grace pretty much always does.
Elisabeth Klein Corcoran is the author of Unraveling: Hanging Onto Faith Through the End of a Christian Marriage, speaks several times a month to women’s groups, and is a member of Redbud Writers’ Guild. During her time at Christ Community Church’s Blackberry Creek Campus in Aurora, Illinois she began and led their women’s ministry for ten years prior to moving to the city’s Orchard Community Church. She lives with her children in Illinois. Visit her online at http://www.elisabethcorcoran.com/difficult-marriage-divorce/ or https://www.facebook.com/ElisabethKleinCorcoran. She is the moderator of two private Facebook groups: one for women in difficult Christian marriages, and one for Christian women who are separated or divorced. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org if interested in joining.