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 the first three parts of this series, click on the links below:

Part I: Three Common Questions
Part II: Why I Stayed

Part III: How I Stayed

As a Christian, why are you not staying forever?

Short answer: God.

Long answer: {Deep breath.}

This is going to be the messiest part to lay out for you. This will be the most intimate part, and the part that has the potential for most misunderstanding. Holy Spirit, give me the words.

It got bad enough that I finally really woke up and got serious help.  And when I got that serious help, my eyes were opened to how bad things really were. No relationship should function the way my marriage was functioning. I am not staying forever because we were just beyond broken.

I was dying inside. Every day, a part of me died. With every harsh word, every lie, I couldn’t even breathe fully. You know when you want death more than life, something is dreadfully wrong. I am not staying forever because I need to choose life.

I was living a fake life. I was one person with the world and another at home and with my closest friends. The counselor that I began to see to specifically target my anger issues had asked me to list off the top of my head three characteristics about each person in my immediate family, finishing with me. If I remember correctly, about myself, I said, “Loyal, stubborn, authentic.” She replied, “It’s interesting that you think you’re authentic, because most of your life is a secret.” Busted. Wake-up call. I preached about living an honest life, and then I went off and didn’t live one. I am not staying forever because I must talk and live the truth.

I was not loved. This is a hard one to write down. And one I fear saying the most. Because many of us do not feel loved. And, I hate to say this, but not being loved is not a reason to end a marriage. That sounds harsh, I know, but it’s true. (In fact, none of these reasons on their own hold enough water to end a marriage.) So I need to clarify that it’s not “you don’t bring me flowers anymore” kind of not being loved. I’m not talking about a lack of pursuing. I’m talking about an active unloving attitude toward another person. There were harsh words and lies. There was manipulation and control. There were ultimatums and consequences. I didn’t have a partner. I am not staying forever because I was not loved as Christ loved the church.

Abuse is not okay. This is another sensitive subject. I was never physically or sexually assaulted by my spouse. But I suffered many forms of emotional abuse documented over fifteen years of our marriage. I thought I just needed to be a better wife. I thought if I were a better wife, I would be treated better. I felt I deserved the treatment I was receiving. I no longer believe those things. I am not staying forever because no child of God should be abused or threatened by another child of God under the guise of love and marriage. 

My kids. Yep, this is also on the list of why I stayed. I came to a place of realizing that my daughter has been watching me take abuse and would make choices for her adulthood based on what she saw me do. And my son has been watching me and seeing what’s apparently appropriate for how to treat a woman and would make choices for his adulthood based on what he saw me do. I am not staying forever because I need to break the cycle of dysfunction with my children.