Release Day is finally here!
You are excited, but also nervous. You have been planning for this day for so long, it seems like a dream come true. There is one thing you need to know—he will have a much bigger adjustment than you.
We think of all the ways our lives will change once our loved one comes home. We plan and prepare for his homecoming with anticipation, excitement and some nervousness. But the changes you will experience do not even compare to the changes he will be facing. The biggest mistake most people make is NOT being prepared to help their loved one adjust to life after prison.
Helping your partner adjust
There are many things you can do to help your man adjust to life after prison. Some are obvious, but others are things that probably never occurred to you! When Ron came home the first time (see our story to find out why he had to return to prison) I thought I was totally prepared. But I wasn’t.
I learned a lot in those first 6 months. The next time he came home, I was ready to help him make the adjustment. Here are the top 5 ways you can help your man adjust:
1 - Listen to him
If he tells you he is feeling scared, stressed, or overwhelmed, take him seriously. Stop what you are doing and give him the option to talk with you or give him his space so he can self-regulate.
2 - Don’t insist that he do things.
It is so easy to insist that he come with you everywhere— the store, friend’s homes, visiting family, school activities, etc. Let him decide what he would like to do. Everything is new and different for him. Giving him the choice will help him feel more in control of his life.
3 - Be there
He will need someone to stand with him as he learns how to navigate his life in this super fast-paced world we live in. Don’t abandon him when he asks you to stay beside him. He will need you to stay by his side in a lot of ways- including the grocery store aisles, your table at a restaurant, at family gatherings, at church, school events, and nearly every other new setting. It will all be unfamiliar and intimidating to him if he has been gone a while.
The long-awaited day is almost here. You feel elated, excited, and nervous. So many thoughts are racing through your head. Will this change your relationship? Is he the same man that you married? Are you really ready for the changes that are coming.
4 - Teach First
It will be easy to do everything for him. But don’t. The best way to help him catch up to living out here is to teach him how to do things that empower him. He will need to learn how to operate cell phones, social media, online banking, paying bills, the dishwasher, washer, dryer, microwave. If you do it for him, you will eventually get frustrated and he will feel inadequate. Teach him everything you know. Then if you want to do it for him, it is an act of love and not a necessity.
5 - Show him respect
He has changed. No one experiences prison without changing. Get to know the person he has become. Respect his right to have his own opinion – especially when it is different than yours. Let him have his own voice, and his own way of doing things. This one can be really hard because you have been the head of the house in his absence. It is also one of the most important. When he feels respected, he will find the confidence he needs to slay every obstacle in his path and walk with assurance.
Take time to adjust
The time it takes for someone to adjust to life on the outside depends on how long they were locked up. Typically, you can project that it will take at least one month of adjustment for every year he was in prison. This is just time to adjust to the new world, not heal from the painful experience of being in prison.
Walking through this time together will create an even stronger bond between you. Don’t give up when the days seem long and difficult. Remember, he is home and you are figuring this out together now.
I am rooting for you!