Being widowed is awful. Having your spouse alive and kicking yet in jail is worse. The emotional roller coaster the situation would launch you into would be excruciating, especially if your spouse is the breadwinner of the family. The stigma within society would be draining. The distance and the sudden change in who manages the household would be enough to cripple a person.
However, you will survive. You will not be weak. You are going to be strong to rise above the awful situation you got into. Here is how to survive when your husband or wife goes to prison:
1. Accept the situation. The more you wallow in self-pity, the more awful the whole experience is going to be for you. The circumstances are bad but it could get better. Just keep it together and live on. Though it is not every day that you see a spouse get separated from his or her family because of a case, it may happen to anyone. When it does happen to you, take it with a grain of salt. Look at it with an open mind. At least, you can still see your spouse, talk to your husband or wife, and hope that eventually you will be together again.
2. It is not your fault. You married your spouse for love. It is understandable if you would feel partly responsible for his or her incarceration but never believe that you are to blame about it. Your spouse is his or her own person, too. They made their own choices. It just had an awful consequence of you living with it as well. Blaming yourself for something you did not do would only drive you to depression. Being miserable about what happened won’t change your situation. Moving on and acting productively would make things better.
On the other hand, you can encourage your children to think positive and to keep praying and hoping for the return of their parent. More than the longing for a spouse, it is the longing for a parent that could be devastating to a family.
Also, stop torturing yourself. Seeing your spouse in prison is not the end-all and be-all of your existence. Even if your spouse gets jailed for a lifetime, there is a possibility of getting a parole. You can do a lot to help your spouse get released from jail. Meanwhile, continue doing the things that keep you busy. At the same time, research about how your spouse could survive prison life, too.
3. Find support. Strength does not mean shouldering the emotional burden alone. Talk to your family and friends. You do not have to be alone in this situation. Share your feelings with someone when everything gets too much. Talking and having someone to lean on would make you feel better. This is how to survive when your husband or wife goes to prison and help you face another day. On the other hand, avoid people who seem to add fuel to the fire. They are those who like to ask about how you feel, yet do not provide any comforting words or advice to you. Being with them will just make you feel pitiful.
Keep in touch with your spouse’s legal support, too. More than anything, your responsibility is to help your spouse lead a new life. Talking to the attorney will clarify matters and this will make you level-headed. The fact that your spouse is in prison shouldn’t make you too emotional. Instead, you should be strong and smart enough to find solutions for a faster development of the case.
4. Avoid triggers. Save yourself from emotional pain by avoiding anything that presents the fact that your loved one is in prison. Whether they were truly guilty of it or not, society would still see and treat them as criminals. It will be painful to see someone you love at their worst. It might set you back again into depression. It would be better to stay away from anything and anyone reminding you of it. Should you encounter a trigger, do not suffer alone and talk to someone until you feel better again.
If avoiding triggers does not help, then avoid people who chastise or judge your spouse. Stay away from people who always think they know better. As much as possible, seek advice from individuals who have been through the same situation.
5. Keep to your marriage vows. You promised to your spouse you would always be there for them for richer, for poorer, in sickness, and in health. Incarceration is implicit in those vows. Now would be the best time to act upon it. Don’t shun your spouse. That would only hurt both of you and it would not make your situation better. If it really hurts to see them, then limit your visits. Create a schedule and stick to it. Talk to each other as honestly as possible. Set up an expectation for each other so you would still be able to plan for a better future for both of you.
Treat each day as if nothing happened. Attend to your daily activities and tasks. If you have kids, take care of them and explain to them what is happening. It is better to be objective and optimistic than host your pity party. Nothing is ever solved by sulking and moping around.
6. Don’t forget yourself. Last, but not the least, is to always think about you. Do not throw away your life because your spouse is in jail. You are still free. So, live as normally as you possibly can. Continue with your life and fulfill your goals. Never forget to prioritize yourself. These are the ways on how to survive when your husband or wife goes to prison. When you have gone past the denial stage, acceptance would come more easily for you. Seeing your spouse in prison is just one of the many trials that would try to pull your family apart, but the best that you can do is to keep your family ties tight. After all, this is just a stage in your life. The time will come when you will see your spouse again.