A prisoner’s wife. How could this even be possible?
I never imagined that someday I would be married to a man who was in prison, but it happened, and it didn’t destroy me or our marriage.
When my husband went to prison, it changed nearly everything about my life. I no longer fit in with the married couples out here and learned that the way I used to see my friendships had to change. There were a lot of things I had to do differently (Read this post).
Being married to a prisoner is different than being married to someone everyone can see standing next to me. Everything I did or said was suspect. Being married to a prisoner meant I could no longer greet male friends with a hug or a big warm smile. I had to develop my polite smile and a nice firm handshake. I had to be extra careful about what I wore. Otherwise, people would get the wrong impression about my intentions. Every social encounter was like navigating through a land mine. Was I too friendly? Am I spending too much time talking to one person? Do I “look married?” So crazy!
One Day at a time
During this season, I had to work hard to keep my sanity—and my identity. It was easy to see who my true friends were. Between working, visiting my husband, fighting his case, and raising my sons, there was not much time for fun. So, I decided to only spend my time with my real friends. I was totally committed to staying married, so men were not on my list of close friends. Women only!
For years I had always been the second part of Ron and Cathy. Now, I had to reinvent myself as Cathy, married to Ron. There is a big difference. I had to learn to stand on my own two feet – pay the bills, find directions, take out the trash, cook, clean, work, play with AND discipline the boys, then schedule prison calls, prison visits, and find time to answer letters from my prisoner husband. It was the greatest challenge of my life.
Learning to be a prisoner’s wife doesn’t mean giving up who you are. Being married to someone with a prison number means becoming who you were always meant to be. It requires a strength of will and determination so few exhibit today. But it will also demand that you let go of petty things and petty people.
Becoming a prisoner’s wife doesn’t define who you are; it is only an explanation of your current situation. My husband is in prison, but that doesn’t make me less of a wife or less of a person. As corny as it may sound, I would often say the words of a high school cheer to myself as a reminder of my value. This is what I would say before I walked out my door to face the world: “Stand up! Be proud! Say your name out loud! We are the TIJERINA’S – the mighty, mighty TIJERINA’s!”
I am more than the wife of a prisoner; I am a warrior and a woman of valor.
I am rooting for you.
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