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Words of Hope if Your Marriage is Unraveling

Words of Hope if Your Marriage is <i>Unraveling</i>

Elisabeth Corcoran's book Unraveling released October 1st 2013. Read below for a Q&A with the author.

Where did Unraveling come from?

Unraveling came out of my difficult separation and divorce. I’ve always loved writing and journaling and this hard season was no different. What started as catharsis of a very personal journey ended up being something that I believe will resonate with many, many women who find themselves facing the end of their Christian marriages. That is also what makes Unraveling unique from other books written on divorce: I wrote this from the very beginning of my separation through about a year after my divorce was final…I didn’t wait until everything was all settled to look back and write about it. It’s raw and real.

What would you say to critics who accuse you of supporting divorce in your writing?

I have not yet had even one divorced person accuse me of supporting divorce. It’s always someone who hasn’t walked in my shoes. So, I would simply say that my choice to support women who are in difficult marriages and women who are divorcing is a decision that I made while going through the pain myself, while being judged myself. I just think that there’s only one Judge and I’m not him, so here and now, I’m choosing to err on the side of grace.

Is your book a resource for anyone who's dealt with divorce (friends, family, etc) or specifically for divorced/divorcing women?

First and foremost, this book is a companion for women whose marriages are over. However, I would absolutely love to see it get in the hands of pastors and small group leaders and women’s ministry directors…people of influence in the church, basically; or moms and dads and sisters and friends, so they can get an insider’s view of what it really feels like for your marriage to end, especially as a Christian.

You talk often about how during and after a divorce women are in need of support system, but are often failed by the church and its members. What do you think that is?

I think people are scared. I think people might feel that to show someone compassion and support through something like divorce is the same as condoning divorce. I know that’s how I used to feel. I would want to know how someone came to be divorced (did they initiate or did the spouse? Are there “biblical grounds” or did someone just fall out of love? Etc) before I would decide how I felt about their divorce so I could then decide how I would interact with that person. I’m sure I would've never said this outloud, or have even been able to express it like that, but I was very into what appeared right or wrong, as opposed to just looking someone in the face who's hurting and asking how I could help them or love them or pray for them. I hope I'm becoming more like that these days, more able to show grace no matter what.

What would you say to those that may disagree with divorce and struggle with the idea of getting involved and helping? Any tips you’d give them for staying biblically sound with compassion?

I’d say life is hard and life is messy. I would say that Jesus hung out with those who found themselves in messes – sometimes by things done to them but a lot of times the mess was at their own hand (the woman at the well and the handful of guys who weren’t her husbands, Zaccheus and his unethical tax-collecting ways, the woman caught in adultery, etc). The way Jesus talked to these people almost showed a deeper level of tenderness than the way he interacted with “regular” people. He just really loved them all.

This is why I write in the introduction of Unraveling… “for the sake of your healing process and for the sake of falling lavishly on the side of grace – I do not care how you came to find yourself separated or divorced…” After this much of life and faith and my own struggles, I’ve come to land on this: pain is pain. And I just don’t care anymore if you did it to yourself or of it’s been done to you. If someone is hurting, I want to be there and listen and try to be a support.

What words of hope can you give to someone struggling in a bruised or broken marriage?

Oh, sweet one, you are not alone. I was in my difficult marriage for almost nineteen years. I kept that fact to myself for many reasons, but one of the main reasons was that I was just sure that no one would understand, and perhaps even that no one would believe me. But I have talked to enough women to know that difficult Christian marriages are unfortunately far more common than we realize.

Because of that, I believe help really is available. It all starts with telling someone. It needs to be someone you trust, like a counselor, a church leader, a mentor, or a friend. But don’t just stop at sharing your story; ask this person to help you figure out what your next steps should be. This will take courage, but even though it will be hard, it will be so much better than continuing to live in your painful marriage as is. There is always hope.

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 id 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. As an outreach of her desire to help others, she has traveled to Haiti and Sierra Leone, and led a team of women to Liberia with Samaritan's Purse doing AIDS work. She lives with her children in Illinois. Visit her online at or on facebook.

Publication date: October 4, 2013