Marrying the Incarcerated

When someone is in prison, they look for people on the outside to be their life lines. While the prison system in the United States is not a pleasant place to be (although you could make the argument that U.S. prisons are far better than prisons elsewhere) they are still prisons. When you’ve committed a crime against society and you are sentenced to prison – you are not sentenced there as a part of a social club, but rather as a punishment and as a form of rehabilitation. Your days are monitored and strictly scheduled. You may attend classes and you may or may not be able to receive visitors.

I’ve known three people who were sent to prison, all three of them went not once, but multiple times. They served sentences ranging from a few months to a few years. In many ways, they became what are known as institutionalized – in part because they really had trouble functioning in society and being self-sufficient. It took very little to trigger the behavior that sent them to prison in the first place. In all three cases, alcohol was a powerful factor.

Marrying While In the Pen

Two of the three men who spent various time in prison also got married while they were in prison – not once, but twice. In the case of one marriage, a child was produced shortly after he got out of prison and just a few months before he went back. In the case of all four marriages, the women who married them did not meet them outside of prison, but rather through letters they exchanged.

One started writing because she saw an ad in a magazine asking for pen pals. She fell in love with the incarcerated man’s words and found herself pouring her heart and soul out into her letters to him. They were married while he was in prison and their relationship was fundamental to changing her own life as she became more active in her Church and social activities because of her relationship. Two months after he left prison, they were divorced. Because he was not the man she knew while he was behind bars. Interestingly enough, when he was sent back to prison, they resumed their letter writing relationship.

He married another woman two years into his second incarceration with three years left on it. They were permitted two conjugal visits and she was pregnant with their child when he left prison. They lived together for six months, but he was soon drinking heavily again. His wife feared for their infant daughter and she left him shortly after he was arrested on charges of robbery from the place he worked.

Sadly, there appears to be an air of romance about men and women who are in prison and the need to make them feel better about themselves or perhaps just a need to be connected to someone who cares. Many times, families of those who are habitually incarcerated give up on them – because they won’t change. They don’t visit, they don’t call and they don’t send care packages. This is not to say that these relationships always end badly – but more often than not, couples who meet and marry while one spouse is incarcerated often do not have a marriage that can survive in the ‘real’ world.

Do you know anyone who married someone they developed a relationship with while incarcerated?

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Love Letters: Do You Know Who Mildred Loving Is?

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About Heather Long

Heather Long is 35 years old and currently lives in Wylie, Texas. She has been a freelance writer for six years. Her husband and she met while working together at America Online over ten years ago. They have a beautiful daughter who just turned five years old. She is learning to read and preparing for kindergarten in the fall. An author of more than 300 articles and 500+ web copy pieces, Heather has also written three books as a ghostwriter. Empty Canoe Publishing accepted a novel of her own. A former horse breeder, Heather used to get most of her exercise outside. In late 2004, early 2005 Heather started studying fitness full time in order to get herself back into shape. Heather worked with a personal trainer for six months and works out regularly. She enjoys shaking up her routine and checking out new exercises. Her current favorites are the treadmill (she walks up to 90 minutes daily) and doing yoga for stretching. She also performs strength training two to three times a week. Her goals include performing in a marathon such as the Walk for Breast Cancer Awareness or Team in Training for Lymphoma research. She enjoys sharing her knowledge and experience through the fitness and marriage blogs.