Your partner is in prison. Now what?

Sex.  That one word is such an attention-grabber. Sex is a big deal in relationships. It can add deeper intimacy and connection, or it can create division and distance between you and your partner. When your husband is home, you get to decide together everything there is to decide about having sex with each other.  When he is in prison, sex is out of the picture. So, now what?

Most prisons have very strict rules about public displays of affection- DON’T DO IT.  No hugging, no kissing, no touching more than 10 seconds at the beginning and end of a visit– and absolutely no sexual contact.  To be married and yet not able to be physically intimate is a hard, cold reality we had to come to terms with.

Overcoming barriers to communication.

Our need to be held, loved, and cared for would have to be met another way.  I committed to being faithful to Ron, as well. So, we had to figure out a way to meet our need for physical contact in a new way.  We found what worked for us—and it carried us through our prison journey.

I heard a presentation at a conference about “touch.”  The speaker shared what he had learned about the sensitive areas of our human bodies and the numbers of nerve endings.  Then I discovered that the face was one of areas most sensitive to touch.  I loved it!  I knew I would be allowed to touch Ron’s face and he mine.

Overcoming barriers to communication.

We began taking turns holding each other’s face in our hands when we kissed hello or good-bye. The feeling of his face in my hands was so intimate.  It is funny how much we take for granted when we live together.  I didn’t remember the last time I had actually touched Ron’s face.  Now, this small gesture filled our need to connect with each other, skin to skin.

We also learned to take advantage of hand-holding.  We held hands in different ways to communicate to each other our thoughts, feelings, and hope.  Holding hands had seemed so precious or important before—yet another thing we had taken for granted. Being able to hold hands and touch each other’s faces became our unspoken communication of love and desire.

Before Ron went to prison, we had as much time as we wanted to spend together and talk to each other. But we didn’t do it. Communication was not a priority. Our relationship was shallow at best. Now that Ron was in prison, communicating became a top priority.

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couple communication tips ron cathy tijerina

I have talked with many wives of prisoners about sex.

 Each couple must figure out how to navigate through this together.  Some couples write love letters, others share intimate things on phone calls, and others have developed their own secret communication through looks or allowable touching (like hand-holding)  Whatever you decide together, keep it sacred between the two of you.  Do not share your letters with others, and he should not share his.  Remember, everything you send or say to him is seen or heard by corrections staff.

I am a huge proponent of finding ways to be intimate with each other.  I am also strongly against finding someone else to meet your needs while he is in prison.  Unfaithful relationships can deeply divide your family and complicate the lives of all involved. Faithfulness should never be situational. If you want something worth having, you must be willing to invest everything you have to make it valuable.  Waiting for your man to come home to have sex will seem like such a small sacrifice in exchange for your future together.  It is worth the effort—and worth the wait.

I am rooting for you!