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Prison Saved Our Marriage

prison saved our marriage TYRO blog

If friendship was a cardinal virtue, then I was about to receive sainthood in the lobby outside of the ladies’ dressing room.

shopping with your partner tyro blog

I love my wife, my marriage, and my three children, and for more than 20 years I have been committed to helping our family grow and be healthy and successful, even from behind bars. I have been sent to prison twice for a crime I did not commit and have served 15 years in Ohio’s prison system. This has left me attacked, accused, rejected, and broken.

I am currently in a department store, waiting for my wife outside of the ladies’ dressing room, and I am happy I am able to be here.

She is my best friend.

Families are built with friendship, see my blog on friendship. The fullest expression of true love is really true friendship. Friendship offers the ability to share the secret, vulnerable things in our hearts with another person; and know that we can trust them to accept us. When we are faithful to others and demonstrate loyalty to them, we build the trust that helps the friendship to grow. When we do things together, we demonstrate the “us” in the relationship means more than “me” or “you.”

When offenses come, as they inevitably do, we can learn to look past the hurt in our heart that seems so large and show love to the other people in our family who are hurting as well, and probably more than we are. And when someone or something comes to strike a mighty blow to our family, the strength that comes from learning to love each other every day and making those little choices that matter will carry us through the big trials of life.

I am currently choosing to build my relationship with my wife by doing something that matters to her. I am also trying to look as cool as a 40 something year old man can look while standing outside of the ladies’ dressing room.

Practicing this way of life will make the bonds of your family permanent.

raisiing a family while in prisonLearning how to love your family and help them to grow strengthens the whole family so that they will be there when you desperately need their support as well. This is what it is to practice the High Fives – the principles that we discovered in the midst of incarceration, separation and despair. These principles helped us to rise from our circumstances. To become strong, and help thousands of other families to do the same.

I learned to be there for my wife and children, even from behind bars, for 15 years. I am here for my wife right now, just outside the ladies’ dressing room, while she tries on 4 more outfits.

Success is something everyone wants, but very few people understand how to achieve. Personal happiness, productivity, healthy bodies, healthy relationships, creating a legacy – all these things come from one source: a healthy family. A healthy family is proven to benefit every individual in it. Family gives each other success, joy and peace in their lives. A family with a mother and father who love each other and work to make the family successful is the atmosphere that allows children to grow to their full potential. It is the foundation for achievement and happiness. Success in life comes from success in your family. The problem is that most marriages and families are not successful, and many of them fail.

My marriage became an example to the other men in prison. Many asked my wife to start visiting their families to encourage them. This was even before I enjoyed shopping with my wife.

There is a great myth that is widely accepted as a truth – the myth that perfect relationships exist. Men and women chase after this illusion as if it is their promised inheritance. What is the result?

The quest for a perfect relationship is a constant source of dissatisfaction; no person, no relationship is perfect. In the 1950s, the perfect family myth was born. It has been such a powerful idea that people have chased after it for generations. But many of today’s young people have become so disillusioned that when the fairy tale of a perfect family burst like a soap bubble, they give up on marriage and family altogether.

At this point, I think the perfect shopping trip might be a myth too. Two more outfits to go, outside the ladies’ dressing room.

The truth is that healthy families are possible. They are not perfect, but they are real, and they can be built. A broken and dysfunctional family can change and grow into a strong, healthy, vibrant family. Our family made the journey from suffering and shattered to strong and healthy. Our family is not perfect, but we learned and practiced the skills to make it permanent.

High Five Principles

  1. Friendship: Building lasting bonds through fun and laughter; sharing of life’s struggles and victories while committing to be loyal.
  2. Faithfulness: Affirming your family’s intrinsic value, demonstrating steady allegiance to fulfilling your duty to protect, love and defend them.
  3. Forgiveness: The ability to move beyond the offenses from others and experience the freedom that comes from releasing others for the larger purpose of family strength.
  4. Fairness: Learning to see in our circumstances the opportunity to use effective communication skills to resolve conflict and strengthen our relationships
  5. Fortitude – The strength of mind, will and purpose that enables a family to courageously face danger and endure pain or adversity together.

overcoming incarceration in a relationship tyro blogI have committed to achieving the greater good for my family and my marriage – even if I am the only husband standing outside the dressing room.

When we started on our journey together more than 26 years ago, we did not have the skills to build a healthy, successful marriage and family, and we suffered. While I was in prison, we learned the High Five principles, which made it possible for us to actually grow closer and stronger through the difficulties that could have consumed us. I really hope the dressing room has not consumed Cathy…

Cathy and I now work with our adult sons full-time to strengthen families in our home state of Ohio and around the world. Over the last year alone, we have reached into the lives of more than one hundred thousand families. We know what it has taken to bring health and wholeness into our own family. Er have seen these same principles work in the lives of countless others.

Finally, I am done standing outside the ladies’ dressing room! “Looks great, Cathy! You are beautiful.”

We have come so far. From a suffering young family and marriage with a prison sentence, poverty and welfare to helping so many others to have success in their families, and receiving recognition by the White House. If your family is hurting too, please let us help you. Practicing the High Five principles teaches you how to strengthen your family in the midst of suffering, improving your family’s health so that no matter what you face, you can face it together and be successful.

The High Five principles can transform your family just like it transformed ours.

You may even find yourself happy to be standing outside of a dressing room, too, someday!


Excerpt from “High Five – Love Never Fails”, available on


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1 Comment

  • Christe Raney
    Posted March 19, 2021 at 6:29 pm

    This has given me so much hope that the decision to stay with my fiance after his incarceration is a peaceful one. I am at peace with my decision. Thank you for the encouragement. I want to order thos book for both him and I to read while he is away. Thank you!!

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