They say that the first year of marriage is the easiest year you will have together. Everything is new. Your learning about one another. And hey, the sex isn’t too shabby either.
A wise friend of mine, who had been married about 30 years herself, once said, “In the first year of marriage you can’t get enough of one another, you can just eat him up, and during the next 20 you will have wished you had.”
Basically, everything my narcissistic ex was not. There was only one teensy tiny catch to my dream come true… He was about to go to jail.
I met my husband shortly after escaping a 12 year long abusive relationship. Ronnie was an answer to my prayers. He is kind, thoughtful, sweet, soft-spoken, attentive, passionate, etc.
Now I know what some of you are thinking, “Omg, how can this criminal be an answer to your prayers?”. Let me stop you right there.
My husband is by no means angelic; however, he is a good man trying to turn his life around. He was already making strides towards a better future before I entered the picture.
Without delving into his personal affairs too intently, all I am going to say is that my husband in prison is a non-violent petty crime/drug offender who is paying off his debt to society.
He had already gotten clean before meeting me; however, he was still being sentenced during us first “courting,” so to speak.
Surviving marriage with an incarcerated spouse
My husband is currently serving time at the county jail in the town in which we live. As of the 4th, he has been living there for a total of 8 long, strenuous months.
While I knew of his past and jail sentence, I still said, “Yes,” to that age-old question of whether or not I wanted to spend the rest of forever with this man, and for the record, I would gladly do so again.
Once the nuptials had been recited, and all the carnal lust had run its course, I began to think about surviving marriage and how to deal with an incarcerated loved one.
My ex was mentally and physically abusive towards me for the 12 years we were together. We had gotten together when I was 17. I had not even graduated high school yet. I would delve deeper into it for everyone, but that is a story for another day.
Regardless, Ronnie was only my 3rd actual boyfriend, and my first husband and I had never been with anyone that had to do “time” before.
I was very ignorant about the entire process before his arrest. So the thoughts bouncing around my head telling me what to expect and how to feel about everything was grasping at straws.
I knew that #1 I would have to go without sex for at least a year and #2 that for the first time in my life, I was going to be living and paying all the bills by myself.
Pssshh…. No big deal at all. I was honestly getting used to the idea that my spouse had as active a sex drive as myself (ex was 10 years older with health issues).
Also, I had been financially supporting myself since before I turned 18 really (not best home life, again, another story for another day). HA! Was I one wrong Chica.
Ladies and Gentlemen who are reading this have their significant other locked away for however long, and for whatever reason, I want to start by applauding you guys. This has been the hardest, most stressful, and most helpless year of my adult life.
Evenrecent studies have confirmed that incarceration dramatically increases the odds of divorce and alters the rewards and costs of the marriage and the relative attractiveness of alternative partners.
Something my mother-in-law warned me before he ever went in was that if it can go bad, it will while he is there and cannot do a damn thing to help, Boy was she right!
I have moved probably a total of 6 times (Moving freaking sucks!), my dog died (RIP Bowser), I lost not one, not two, but three jobs for various reasons, have been through two vehicles, car accident I shouldn’t have survived, a tree fell through a roof and hit my foot (can’t make this stuff up), etc. You see where I am going with this, I am sure.
First, take a deep breath and roll with the punches baby because stressing out and losing your mind isn’t going to fix any obstacle you are currently facing.
I managed a Pilot at the interstate of my little hick hometown when I met my husband and also when he first got arrested.
Oh, did I mention I suffer from Bipolar Disorder (again another story). Anyway, I lost my job the day afterward because he had been arrested on their property, and I represented them.
Great! I had worked there for almost 2 years and worked very hard for the manager position I held there as well. There go my finances.
It didn’t take me very long to realize that while I had prepared myself mentally for the lack of sex, I had not given one thought to the lack of intimacy I was about to endure.
Maintaining a healthy marriage and a stable mental status
It hasn’t been easy. I tell you, marriages are tough, but I can say that we have not had our first big fight yet. Trust is key in a situation such as this.
One thing I have noticed and Ronnie has mentioned a few times, aggravated because he is stuck in a cell with them, is that people lose that as soon as they are incarcerated.
People that have been together for years have children together, immediately have these issues they have never had before on top of the already obvious stress of being in there or out here doing it alone.
They begin accusing the one on the outs of running around on them, and they have to be turning their kids against them cause why else didn’t they want to talk to them.
It’s such a sad situation if you don’t have faith that they will do right by you while your apart, then go ahead and stop wasting each other’s time.
Another major pointer that I feel inclined to give is to make sure you stay in contact with one another through any means possible. Luckily for us, they had come out with an app that allows us to text message, video chat, and call one another.
However, it is stupidly expensive, so for those without that kind of funding, you can always write to them every day so that you are each receiving SOMETHING for one another.
Also, if you are thinking to yourself you don’t have the time to write every day and blah blah blah, then save it. You make time for the people you want to make time for.
Keeping it touch not only gives you both peace of mind but also lets each know that the other is thinking of them. In this situation, I learned fairly quickly that it could be the little things that prevent you from going insane and surviving marriage.
The US department of health and human services published in their research that incarceration can have a profound impact on intimacy and commitment in a relationship.
Limited visiting hours, no privacy, and restricted or no physical contact makes it difficult to carry out intimate relationships.
For those of you on the outs, as my husband likes to refer to it, another piece of advice I’d like to give is that pictures can make a world of difference.
I have sent my husband dozens of photos since October, and he absolutely loves them. Pictures of his brother’s 22nd bday party, our niece and nephew, lots of me (his idea, lol), and pictures of us together (wedding, our ring pic, vows, etc.).
We have also read several books together and sent several “sexy messages” as he has named them back and forth. As I said previously, it is the little things that can keep you from losing it.
By surviving marriage this first year, we know now how great our future is going to be and that the other is worth it. It has in no way, shape, or form been an easy road, but we are going to make it out and may even be better for it.
Also watch: How to handle your child’s dad being in prison.
I’ve learned a lot about myself this past year that I never paid attention to before. I had never been alone and was terrified of it in the beginning, and now I have come to enjoy my own company.
I don’t give myself enough credit sometimes. I am a survivor, and I hope you are too because if you are going through this trial or have been through it and came out on top, then you know it’s a battle unlike any other you have ever been through before.
If you feel disconnected or frustrated about the state of your marriage but want to avoid separation and/or divorce, the marriage.com course meant for married couples is an excellent resource to help you overcome the most challenging aspects of being married.
Hi there! My name is Danielle Brown and I am a new freelance writer based out of The Volunteer State and proud to say so. Check out my blog at danielle.brown.org or email me at above address if you have any questions, advice, etc. TIA.