It is always difficult to reorganize from ordinary daily life and get used to the absence of a spouse who is now serving time in prison. Often times, people experience loss, grief, sadness, anger, disappointment, guilt, or shame. In the absence of a spouse, you have a lot of responsibilities and concerns. Don't give in to confusion and overwhelming feelings. The right approach and attitude to the situation will help you cope with difficulties and not lose heart.
Part 1 of 3: Adapting to Change
Step 1. Feel free to grieve
Imprisonment always raises barriers to marriage, which manifest themselves as a lack of intimacy, family problems, and financial hardship. You have experienced a sense of loss and an abrupt change in your life. Sadness, anger, anger, frustration, frustration, or helplessness are perfectly normal emotions.
- Feel free to cry and give vent to your emotions.
- You can write down your feelings and experiences in a diary. This will make it easier for you to understand yourself.
Step 2. Deal with personal trauma and shame
It is normal to feel ashamed if your spouse is arrested. There may also be feelings of guilt for the crime or a sense of involvement and guilt in a situation of imprisonment. You will be haunted by the thought that things could have turned out differently if you had made different decisions in the past. Often, the imprisonment of a spouse and the subsequent feelings of loss lead to depression. Do not give in to sorrowful feelings and deal with your emotions.
Your spouse is responsible for their decisions and actions
Step 3. Accept reality
Life has changed. Now you need to take care of your children, pay bills and solve everyday problems without the help of your spouse. On holidays, the family will have one less person. Don't push away happy memories together, but don't live in the past either. There is no other present. You are not able to change the situation, no matter how you would like it. Embrace the change.
- Your life has changed dramatically. Don't deny reality, don't make life more difficult.
- Accept your feelings, because they are completely normal under the current circumstances.
- Don't hold your emotions to yourself. Talk to a close friend or see a therapist.
Step 4. Decide what to tell people
Often in such a situation, a person is ashamed of the truth and comes up with excuses like "He has a long business trip" or "She moved to her parents for a while." Take your time and think about how to explain the absence of a spouse to people. Who should be told the truth, and who does not have to be privy to your affairs. Then decide what to say. What part of the truth are you willing to reveal? Suffice it to say that the spouse is in prison? Tell about the reasons and the term of imprisonment?
- You don’t have to talk about what you don’t want to commit others to.
- In a conversation about the current situation, it is better to say right away if you want the essence of the conversation to remain only between you and the interlocutor. Be blunt, “I hope this stays between us. I ask you to show respect for the privacy of my family.”
Part 2 of 3: Taking care of your family
Step 1. Adapt
Due to all the changes brought about by the imprisonment of a spouse, you now need to change your lifestyle, habits and behavior. If you find it difficult to pay your mortgage or maintain a car, then try to find another job or sell the car. You may need to transfer your child to another school or spend more time at home to get things done. Consider all new commitments and best ways to do business.
Try to schedule your days and weeks so that you can complete all tasks on time. Make lists of tasks and responsibilities, seek help from family and friends
Step 2. Don't forget about yourself
Often a person has a desire to provide maximum support to his spouse and think only about him. This is a great motivation, but you shouldn't forget yourself either. Hang out with friends, go to events, get some rest, eat right, and exercise. It is very easy to forget about yourself if you constantly think and worry about your spouse.
- It may seem that no one understands you. What can others know about family life when one spouse is in prison? Such thoughts often lead to isolation from others. Remember that you need to communicate with other people, at least your closest friends and family.
- Learn to deal with stress. Take care of yourself, relieve stress every day, and don't let it build up. Go for walks daily, keep a journal, listen to music, take a bath, play with your dog.
Step 3. Talk to the children
The prospect of talking to a child about the spouse's imprisonment is often intimidating. Children are more likely to experience the same emotions: fear, confusion, anger, sadness, or loneliness. Consider the age of the child when talking and say that now everything will change. Inform the children that they will still be able to communicate with the parent on the phone and meet with the parent during their visits.
Discuss how the child should answer other children's questions. Make a joint decision about what to say: "Dad is in jail" or "Mom left for a while."
Step 4. Sign up for a support group
It is not easy for any person to go through such trials and live a “normal” life. If you find it difficult to discuss problems with family and friends, then a support group can help you communicate with people who are faced with a similar life situation. They are always ready to support, listen and share relevant advice.
Use the internet to find a support group in your city
Step 5. Prepare for a change in your spouse's behavior
It is always difficult for a person to move to a new role in life and become a “prisoner”, because before he was a “father”, “husband”, “entrepreneur”. Such changes create sadness, frustration, depression, anxiety, or anger. The spouse may try to restore his authority in the family and business, make certain demands and threaten. It should be remembered that now it is not easy for him to adapt to the new reality, so it is better to show compassion.
- If your spouse is disappointed, upset, angry, or saddened, then remember that he is now deprived of many freedoms. Show sympathy and try to inspire your spouse: "I'm so sorry that it's very difficult for you right now", "You can always count on my support."
- Inmates sometimes require their wives to smuggle into jail or engage in criminal activities. In such a situation, do not fall for persuasion. Do not forget about your safety, and in case of threats, seek help.
Step 6. Learn to live on
Life does not end with the imprisonment of a spouse. Use every minute wisely. Your suffering will not ease his lot. Live on and wait for your loved one to be free.
Part 3 of 3: How to communicate with your spouse
Step 1. Discuss your expectations
Discuss expectations and frequency of communication initially. If a person was taken into custody 5 hours ago, then one should not rely on weekly visits. Think about ways to support your spouse, but also be mindful of your needs. You cannot completely refuse to communicate with people in order to sit at home and wait for a call.
The spouse needs support, but try to be realistic about the situation
Step 2. Communicate as much as possible
Evaluate your capabilities and decide how often you can communicate and see each other. Frequent calls can be expensive. You can give your spouse packages, money and photographs, but try to live within your means. Some people want to prove to others that the arrest will not destroy their marriage, but do not punish yourself and sit by the phone all day.
- Beyond the financial aspects, use your time wisely as well. If you need to go to work on a weekend, reschedule your visit to another time.
- Try to find compromises based on your employment, financial situation and the support you need. The spouse must understand you.
Step 3. Keep your notebook next to your phone
Usually a telephone conversation lasts no more than 15 minutes, and there is so much to say. During the day, write down topics to discuss with your spouse in a special notebook. This way you will be ready to talk and will not forget about anything important.
Step 4. Visit your spouse
It is difficult to maintain a marriage if you do not see your spouse. Try to come to meetings once or twice a month if time and money allows. Time will pass faster in anticipation of a new meeting.
- When communicating with a prisoner, think carefully about every word you say. If you are heard, then such words can be used in court against your spouse.
- Never try to turn children of any age against their mother or father. Conversations should be positive or neutral. Negatively speaking, children can turn away from their parent.