Love affair grows in a prison marriage based on love and commitment

By · Tuesday, November 18th, 2008

Readers sometimes write me with questions about my marriage and my wife. They want to know how we keep our love alive and whether we anticipate challenges when we begin living together. Through books I’ve written, and articles available on, I’ve described my relationship with Carole, whom I’ve known since grade school. I am serving a lengthy prison term. She returned to my life many years ago, after I had completed more than 15 years of prison. We married inside the visiting room of a federal prison.

More than five years have passed since Carole and I married, yet our romance continues to thrive. The reason for our growing love affair, I am convinced, lies in the deep commitment we have made to each other’s life. I am totally into my relationship with Carole, and she demonstrates time and again that she is totally into her relationship with me. Our love affair amazes many, as Carole and I have never shared more physical intimacy than the kisses we exchange at the beginning of every visit, and at the conclusion of each visit.

Both of us understood the challenges of what we were building. I still had more than ten years of prison ahead of me when Carole and I married. That meant Carole would have to accept the continuous upheaval of my life if she wanted to build forever with me. She moved from her comfort zone in Oregon to a new community in Fort Dix, New Jersey, where I was confined so that we could visit regularly. One year after her move to a community where she did not know anyone else, administrators relocated me to a prison in Colorado. Carole packed her belongings and moved to the prison town where I was confined in Florence. After 18 months in Florence, administrators moved me to California. Carole made the transition again. We both placed our marriage as our highest priority, and that meant we had to make every effort to stay as close as possible.

To love each other through all of the complications that come with imprisonment, Carole and I must commit to each other time and again. People who live together fall out of love because they take each other for granted. They fail to communicate their hopes and dreams after a while. Rather than nurturing love through expressions of the heart, couples rely only on sexuality. Although I do not deny that sex should play an integral part of a love affair, when there is nothing more than sex, relationships can wither. Carole and I may not enjoy the privilege of a sexual relationship, yet we have our hopes, dreams, and commitment to each other that powers us through the struggles.

Carole and I have built a history together that ties us ways that other couples lack. She has made it possible for me to reach beyond boundaries to build a career as a writer. Through our work together, we have made meaningful contributions to society. Our work as husband and wife has enabled Carole to earn an income, and with that income, she has been able to earn a degree in nursing. Her nursing degree now enables us to save and make investments toward the future that we are building together. Every day, we create more ties that bind us closer. That is the privilege of our love.

Because of Carole, I have a life that few other long-term prisoners ever know. She is close enough to visit at every opportunity. I am severely restricted to the telephone by prison rules, but I devote every privilege I have to her. Together we are focused on the life we are creating, on the future we will enjoy as husband and wife. Both of us look forward with eager anticipation to my release.

In many ways, freedom came to me with Carole’s love. I may have had to serve an additional decade before we could consummate our marriage physically, yet every day that she has been in my life has been a blessing. I thank God every night before I sleep, and every morning when I wake. My wife has brought an incredible sense of meaning and value to my life, and I am grateful for every breath she has given me. At the same time, I have felt empowered by the love that flows so effortlessly from her to me.

Carole and I are now in our mid-forties. Perhaps an Obama administration will preside over changes that could bring me home sooner. Either way, we know that my release will come no later than our late forties. We are committed to building the rest of our lives together, and we both embrace the joy in knowing that soon we will live together as husband and wife.

For me, the thought of living outside of prison boundaries is surreal, and I cannot imagine the changes that freedom will bring to my life as easily as Carole can. She describes to me how we will share our lives together. After more than 21 years of imprisonment, those thoughts are akin to looking through a magazine of celebrity lifestyles. I know we will build our lives together, but it is sometimes a challenge for me to think of life outside of these boundaries.

Despite the challenges that will come, I feel certain that my commitment to Carole will strengthen with my release. She has been my oxygen, my lifeline to the world. I feel so at one with her, that freedom has no meaning to me if I cannot share my life with Carole.

I am committed to spending every day of my life, in prison and upon my release, working to prove myself worthy of the love she has given to me. Our total commitment to each other’s dreams and hopes is what makes our marriage thrive. In time, Carole and I will work together to help others reach their own highest potential.

Because of my magnificent and beautiful wife, I have no struggles with love, and I am eager to begin living with her upon my release from prison.

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