The shutdown has magnified issues within relationships everywhere. I believe this is especially true for those of you who are in a relationship with someone who is incarcerated. Stress creates pressure that exposes weaknesses more than any other situation in life. Your relationship is under extreme pressure right now, and you are facing issues you did not see before. To fix them, you must first identify what you are doing wrong.
"Stress creates pressure that exposes weaknesses more than any other situation in life."
Every time he calls, you end up arguing.
You end the video call frustrated, feeling glad to be off the call. His demands for help are adding more stress to your life, and you are feeling overwhelmed. After your calls, you are wondering why you cannot get along anymore and if this relationship is even worth saving. If this sounds like your current situation, it is time to examine what is really happening in your relationship.
There are seven major mistakes people make in relationships with inmates. You are probably doing at least one of them, and you did not even realize what you were doing wrong. The COVID19 shutdown just shed light on the issues, it didn’t cause the problems. So, grab a piece of paper and a pen to jot down your thoughts as we go through each of the 7 most common mistakes.
1 - Too much Shoptalk.
If you are spending all your time together talking about things you must do, this is a problem. You cannot build a secure connection to each other if your only conversation is about what needs to be DONE. Shoptalk is an essential part of a relationship. If it overtakes your time together, your relationship turns into another duty to perform. Relationships are rooted in friendship, not to-do lists.
2 - Too much Command talk.
When one of the partners is consistently demanding action or answers, the relationship is in big trouble. This is a sure sign of a power-struggle and is a huge red flag. A healthy relationship is a give-and-take, not a give-give-give nor a take-take-take. Having someone tell you what to do, when to do it, and how to do it is concerning. You are not subservient to anyone. It is time to have a heart-to-heart discussion about a mutual respect.
3 - Pretending that everything is fine.
Pretense is exhausting and causes so much resentment. Speak up and share your feelings, thoughts, and ideas. It might initially create some friction, but then you can work through your differences together. Nothing builds stronger bonds than being able to resolve your disputes through cooperation. The strongest marriages have navigated through conflict into collaboration.
4 - Overspending your budget.
The constant investment of money into calls, video visits, food boxes, and sending money to them can create a lot of stress. Financial trouble is one of the biggest causes of disagreements for every couple. When your loved one is in prison, the financial burden of the relationship rests on you. Set limits and boundaries and stick to them.
5 - One topic conversations.
Spending time together should create a desire to spend more time together. When you only talk about the same thing every time, your relationship will soon suffer. Boredom, irritability, and increased stress begin to take a toll. Even when there is a significant event (like the public health crisis), you must not make it your only point of conversation. You cannot build a relationship that will last around a single subject.
6 - One-sided benefits
When only one person is benefitting from a relationship, it is a sign of selfishness. Consider how the relationship is, or is not, mutually satisfying and beneficial. Take steps to make sure you are both actively caring for each other. Otherwise, you will become increasingly dissatisfied with your relationship.
7 - Not taking FUN seriously enough.
Enjoying time together is the cornerstone of fulfillment in a relationship. One of the biggest mistakes couples make is only focusing on serious topics when they are together. Fun, laughter and flirting are significant stress relievers and foundational to making your relationship last.
What have you been doing wrong in your relationship? It is time to put together a plan to get your relationship back on track. Stay healthy.
I am rooting for you!