I don’t know of any situation that causes more insecurity in a relationship than prison.
The distance, the separation, and the hurt are all multiplied by all of the disappointment and pain. More couples give up on their relationship when one of them is in prison than almost any other life situation. As a matter of fact, according to a study by RTI, inmates have twice the divorce rate of the general population.
Scary, right? When we are fighting so hard to hold our family together, stats like that are intimidating. The good news is that you can beat the odds. It will take a little more effort—ok, a LOT more effort to overcome prison and build a strong, thriving relationship. Investing in your relationship will pay dividends in protecting you from falling prey to a break-up.
Connect with your partner
One of the most important actions you can take to protect your marriage/relationship is to say I love you as often as possible. I am not just talking about saying it by speaking the words. I am also referring to saying it with your actions. Now, here is the tricky part—your husband doesn’t always know that you are trying to convey your love to him through your actions. What you think your actions say to him, and what he thinks can be totally different!
Learning to speak your man’s love language is really important if you want to grow stronger together. Dr Gary Chapman wrote a book, The Five Love Languages, that details the different ways we all feel loved. Dr Chapman asserts that there are five different love languages and every person has a primary and secondary love language. His basic premise is: When your partner knows your love language and acts on it, you feel loved. When your partner tries to show love to you in a way you don’t connect to, you do not feel loved.
This is especially valuable to couples who are in high stress situations. Having your man in prison totally qualifies you as a couple in a high stress situation! When you each know the other’s love language, you will be able to meet each other’s emotional needs more effectively. I will give a brief description of the five love languages, but I highly recommend you read Dr Chapman’s book and take the quiz to identify your love languages.
How to Communicate with your Partner
Dr Chapman identified these five love languages: Words of Affirmation, Quality Time, Receiving Gifts, Acts of Service, and Physical Touch. I think each one is pretty self-explanatory. Words of Affirmation means feeling loved when you hear positive things spoken to you. Quality Time means getting/giving undivided attention when you are with your partner. Receiving Gifts is not just about getting material things. Gifts are things that your partner carefully chose, or made, for you. Acts of Service is intentionally providing assistance that reduces the amount of work or effort your partner has to do. Finally, Physical Touch is any skin on skin contact. Hand holding, embracing, sitting very close together all convey a deep sense of love and commitment to someone whose love language is Physical Touch.
Knowing what makes your man feel loved enables you to connect and build a stronger relationship- in spite of the time apart. Spend some time talking about what makes you each feel loved on your next visit or phone call. Then, find ways to “speak” that language to your partner. Do it, and watch your closeness, caring, and commitment grow stronger.
I am rooting for you!