Maintaining A Thriving Marriage From Prison

By · Thursday, March 19th, 2009

Since I am a long-term prisoner, many people wonder how it is that I enjoy such a magnificent marriage with my wife, Carole. I understand those curiosities. Divorce rates in America for couples who don’t struggle through the obstacles of confinement do not bode well for the concept of marriage. Carole and I are enjoying our seventh year together, and some of my readers wonder how this is possible.

Jessica is a criminal justice student who asked several questions about my prison adjustment. I’ll respond through separate posts, but I begin with her questions about my marriage to Carole. I began preparing for my marriage to Carole many years before she came into my life. In some ways, it feels as if my entire prison adjustment was about preparing myself for love.

I entered prison when I was 23, and the sentence I received made it abundantly clear that I would serve many years inside. I didn’t know how long I would serve, but I knew that I wanted to adjust in a way that would make me a viable candidate to attract the love of a woman. I did not want to live alone. Knowing that, I thought about what I would have to achieve in order to overcome the stigma of my confinement. Those musings led me to commit to education, to fitness, to character development. Although I was locked in a community of men, I thought about the marriage I wanted and the kind of husband I wanted to become to the woman who eventually would come into my life. After 15 years of imprisonment, God blessed me with Carole.

She was my inspiration even before our romance began. Together we have created a story that empowers me to endure the challenges that complicate the lives of so many other prisoners. As the Second Chance Act shows, most prisoners lack the family and community support that Carole and I work so hard to build. We are a team, true partners, married in every way.

Because I have always been preparing for Carole, I’ve never considered a negative adjustment. She was always my pursuit, to live as a great husband to her. The complications of confinement of our life separate us physically, though our marriage brings us closer in other ways. Carole is an extraordinary wife, my inspiration to live as a better man. I strive to emulate her strength every day, as her commitment is a virtue I admire. I don’t know anyone who could walk in her shoes.

Prisons are dehumanizing not because of their physical conditions, but because of the emotional afflictions they induce. They cause unnecessary harm on families by erecting barriers that obstruct communications. Carole and I are prohibited from visiting more than once each week and rules limit us to fewer than 10 minutes of telephone time on average per day. Prisons have required that Carole and I overcome many obstacles, including several transfers. We persevere because of a commitment we make to nurture our marriage each day. Prisons do not facilitate family ties, we know, so we must work harder. We love with enthusiasm, each with a readiness to give more. That commitment is why our marriage thrives.

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