Making decisions together as a couple is important.
Life is full of options and opportunities. You have to make decisions every day as you are indeed setting the course for your future. When you include your partner in the decision-making process, you honor his place in your family and pave the way for your family to grow stronger together.
It is easy to keep your husband in prison and feeling disconnected from you – leaving you to make all the decisions by yourself! But if you want to build a family that transcends the bars, you must act like you are still a family. Being a family means sharing the responsibility of making decisions that affect your family. Prison is an event, not a lifestyle. It is temporary, and you must work hard to keep your family intact during a prison experience.
All too often women take on the role of single mom in every way.
They discount their partner by making every decision by themselves. Not only does this make their journey harder, it also makes the adjustment much more difficult after his release. Letting prison define your family and how you function is crazy! Consequently, prison is not designed to help families thrive, it is designed to separate and punish. Institutional processes will destroy your family if you let them. In fact, you must create your own processes for functioning as a family. Letting your partner make family decisions is vital to keeping your family together.
As you consider how to make decisions together, here are some tips:
- Decide that you are not going to let prison define your family.
- Determine how you will keep communication going and how you will make decisions together.
- Set clear guidelines for making family decisions together. For us, we decided that neither of us would buy anything that cost more than $50, I would not enroll the boys in an activity, and I would not make any major plans (moving, vacations, new job, etc.) without talking with Ron first.
- Acknowledge that your partner’s perspective matters! He will be seeing things from a different perspective and will be able to provide valuable input. Practicing listening to his opinions will cause you to grow together and then prepare you for his return home again.
- Be prepared to be patient. Taking the time to talk through decisions is truly hard for every couple. Again, having a partner in prison adds a whole new level to patience. You will have to provide more details since he is not living with you, you will have to wait for a letter, email, phone call or visit to discuss issues, and you will need to communicate to others that you need more time to make a decision.
Although including him in making family decisions will require more effort initially, the investment is worth the trouble. It is inconvenient to wait to talk with him, it is uncomfortable to depend on him when he is not living with you, and it is frustrating to consider his opinions when they are different from yours—but talking, depending, and considering are all a part of building a healthy relationship for any couple. You are building a marriage that will last a lifetime—and prison cannot destroy it unless you let it.
I am rooting for you!