When a Christian marriage unravels, many questions rise to the surface. In this four-part series, Elisabeth Corcoran attempts to provide answers from the inside of the unraveling. To read Part I: "Three Common Questions," click here and for Part II: "Why I Stayed," click here.

As a Christian, how did you stay so long?

The short answer: God.

The long answer: A hundred different ways.

I will be writing this to the women I have met over the years who have told me that they are in a hard marriage and don’t know if they can keep going one more day. And trust me, I have met way too many women in that situation who are followers of Jesus married to followers of Jesus. Being a Christian does not exempt you from marital problems; in fact, the downside is, we tend to keep it to ourselves and suffer in silence much longer than the rest of the world.

Prayer. I have counted on prayer to get me through. I have begged God to work in my life and marriage more than I’ve prayed for anything else. I have sobbed my way through prayers on my bathroom floor. To be honest, though, I have also prayed more than I’d like to admit that God would release me. I wanted out of my marriage for as long as I can remember, and I was honest with God about it. But I also prayed for my spouse… on my knees... begging God to heal. I stayed through a steady stream of conversations and pleas and whispers to God.

The Holy Spirit. Only the Holy Spirit could have done the work in me that has been done so far. I have so, so far to go, but he burned raging out of me. I still yell, I’m sad to say. I still have anger issues. But the Holy Spirit worked in me to help me hold my tongue more than I have given myself credit for. I stayed through having the Spirit of God living in me, keeping me there when I didn’t want to be there.

Friends. My friendship circle has ebbed and flowed over the past fifteen years, but one thing that every woman in my life who I trusted and confided in had in common was their fierce love for me and my family. I have never once had a friend tell me I should leave my husband. They have listened, they have prayed more than I’ll ever know, they have supported, they have written notes, they have stood by me, they have pointed me back to Jesus, and they have kept me doing everything I could do to stay put. I stayed by having women around me who loved God and honored marriage helping me stay.

Counseling. I am a fan of counseling. I must be to have tried nine of them. I love digging in and trying to figure out why I feel a certain way or why someone acts the way they do. Counseling has helped me both individually and helped our marriage in some seasons. There is something to be said about an objective third party looking at a situation and being able to tell both individuals what needs to be tweaked to move forward. I stayed by knowing when to get outside help and not letting my pride stop me from getting it.

Couples’ groups. Getting plugged into small groups with other couples helped us over the years, though I must say, you only get out of it what you put in. We were in couples’ groups where the other couples had no idea how bad things were between us, which at times made it all feel kind of pointless. But at least we showed up and were hearing things that we could work on. I stayed by trying to get us involved in community.