One of my Redbud Writers Guild colleagues, Elisabeth Klein Corcoran, just released a new book called Unraveling: Hanging onto Faith Through the End of a Christian Marriage (Abingdon Press).
Q&A with author/speaker Elisabeth Klein Corcoran
Question: What is your book about?
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.
Q: Why did you want to share your story so publicly?
A: I’m not sure I wanted to necessarily, it’s more like I felt compelled to do so. About six months into my separation, I realized I was being asked many questions but they were all boiling down to these three main concepts: people who didn’t hold to my faith wanted to know why I had stayed married so long; women in difficult Christian marriages themselves wanted to know how I had stayed married so long; and some Christians who disapproved without knowing the whole story wanted to know why I wasn’t staying married forever.
Once I realized I was hearing the same questions over and over, I wrote a series for Crosswalk and it sort of took on a life of its own. Once I saw both the controversy and the resonance coming from the commenters, I realized that this was a topic that was being discussed but usually only from theological perspectives, not from the inside of an actual unraveling Christian marriage. So, I decided to start writing, and changed the focus of my blog from pretty much every topic under the sun to difficult Christian marriages, domestic abuse, divorce in our Christian culture, and how the Church handles all of it.
Q: 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.
Q: Why do you think divorce is so taboo?
A: First, I think that the average church-attending Christian doesn’t really know what the Bible says about divorce. So, when someone they go to church with is going through it, they are holding up their skewed biblical lens (thinking to themselves how “God hates divorce”) and then judging. Not everyone does this, of course, but as someone who didn’t have a clear picture herself of what God’s word says on this topic, I know that I did this quite a bit, especially as the women’s ministry leader at my church.
Also, I think – and this could just be me – there’s something to be said for, not divorce rubbing off on someone by any means, but the forced authenticity that seems to come with such a public brokenness. And so, say if you’re in a difficult marriage too and you see another person going through it, it might scare you and freak you out a bit – how hard it all looks to go through it; and it might even make you think, “If I have to stay married, so should they…” Again, it’s looking at someone through a judge’s lens.
I think we just don’t let each other into our lives enough. Because most judgment, if you think about it, comes from someone outside the inner circle, not within arm’s length. And if we were walking more closely with each other, I think we’d have much more empathy and understanding when anyone hit any kind of dark season.
Q: Any advice for 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.
Q: Any advice for someone who has a friend going through a divorce?
A: Love her, love her, love her. Ask good questions. Listen well. Be patient: the grieving process may be messier and take longer than you’d expect. It’s a death and should be treated that way. Bring her a meal or take her out to dinner. Include her and her children in some of your family’s activities. Check in with her regularly: divorce can be super isolating. And love her, if I didn’t already mention that.
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.