When Ron went to prison, I jumped into “legal liaison” mode.
I called and hired attorneys, got copies of transcripts, and checked into laws, timelines, and appeals available to us. I was desperately trying to provide as much support as I could to my husband. After all, helping him fight the legal battle seemed like the best way to do it. Read more on finding the a good attorney.
I didn’t even view it as “his” legal battle. It was definitely “our” battle. It was a huge undertaking on top of caring for our 2 small sons, trying to provide for our family, and recovering from the shock of Ron going to prison. I was putting a ton of effort into trying to solve our legal issues. It was exhausting.
Fighting the legal battle was draining our relationship
Eventually, I realized that throwing all my time into helping fight the legal battle was draining our relationship. I got so caught up in what was happening with the court, that I was ignoring what was happening to us. We were not connecting, we were both feeling lonely and disconnected. But we weren’t talking about it.
Lost in the legal battle
One day, on a visit, Ron looked at me and said, “I really miss you, Cathy.” I naturally responded that I really missed him, too. “No, I mean I miss YOU.” He replied. I was confused until he explained that he missed his friend and lover. All of our interactions became centered around his case and the court proceedings. I had not had any energy left to invest in our relationship. It was all spent on the legal battle.
It was then that I realized that as grateful as he was for my help with the legal side, he needed my emotional, mental, and spiritual support more than anything else. Other people could work on his case, but I was the only person who could provide the other kind of support he needed. Just me. His wife. He needed to know I was still his wife before I was his legal advocate.
Spend time connecting
I started spending more time and energy connecting with Ron, and less time working on his case. Then, I found other people who were willing to help with the legal work – very dear and remarkable friends! I was so relieved because the burden of fighting the legal battles was so heavy. I didn’t even realize how empty I was feeling. Legal work doesn’t refresh you. It is draining. Connecting to your husband—that brings strength, joy, and courage. You need a daily dose of all of those to make it through this prison journey.
Recently my wife, my daughter, her friend, and I had the great pleasure of taking a pontoon boat out on the lake for the very first time ever. With no instructions, no person to tell me how to navigate, back up, go forward, or how fast to go on a turn, I was really on my own to learn how to drive this boat.
Begin to make a change
The first change I made was to stop talking about his case on visits. That became our time to talk to each other like normal people talk to each other. It was so much of a relief! I started looking forward to our visits instead of preparing for them.
Next, I started saving for food and sundry boxes. I chose to send him the boxes because I knew he would enjoy and appreciate my support of him as much as he would the stuff in the boxes. I always added a little-unexpected surprise to each box. It might be a box of Little Debbie’s, a container of his favorite coffee, or an extra washcloth. Just something small.
I made communication with Ron a priority. Whether it was calls, visits or letters, communicating with him was a must. I never let a day go without communicating with him. If I didn’t talk to him, I wrote him. And I only talked about his case if there was some important news.
I began including him on decisions with our sons. I made sure he knew what was happening in our lives. It was no longer just about prison, it was about us—our family. It changed everything. We didn’t feel alone in our journey through those years in prison. In fact, we grew closer and more connected. We supported each other through the difficult times and celebrated each other in hard times.
Support your partner
Supporting your partner in prison is something that you do in a lot of little ways. It is being a part of their lives, including them in your life, and communicating on a regular basis. Your support and care are invaluable while your husband is in prison.
I am rooting for you!