No Sugar Required for Prisoner’s Wife/Partner

No Sugar Required for Prisoner’s Wife/Partner

I often hear prisoners’ wives comparing themselves to military spouses. Early on, I too offered this analogy to help explain away the blank stares. In the context of: “My husband is incarcerated, but it’s no different than his being in the military.” Sure, there are similar tenets; partners are away from each other for extended periods; families must figure out how to raise kids, maintain a home, and create intimacy despite distance. Both relationships face difficulty with reintegration. That’s where the similarities end. For obvious reasons, prisoners’ wives do not receive the same respect as military wives and with another public distinction: military wives stand by their partners, prisoner’s wives wait.

When our partners come home, flags do not wave, TV cameras do not appear, and friends may not even call to say “Welcome Home.” Our partners’ homecoming comes with far less fanfare with some standing in line ready to brand our family—dishonorable.

Mary Poppins said it best, “A spoon full of sugar helps the medicine go down.” Likening ourselves to a military partner tastes sweeter than admitting our actual situation. When we try to convince someone our relationship is [like] something else, it devalues the true definition of the relationship. Comparisons seek to offer explanations and justifications. The mere act of analyzation diminishes one side over the other.

The decision to remain in a relationship with someone incarcerated is far more than a function of the heart. We take in to account the offense and whether or not, it lines up with who we are spiritually and morally. We factor in the long-term effects of the tenure of the sentence. We ask ourselves if we have the mental fortitude to take on, not only the separation, but also the perceptions and criticisms we face. Once we conclude the relationship is worth the hardship, the relationship is valid—nothing else required. When we back peddle with the military comparison, we wear away at the legitimacy of our relationship, with each spoon full of sugar.

Respect comes when we stand our ground and exude pride by stepping in to our true skin. The validity of our lives is not in the likeness to another institution but in the unlikeness of it and in embracing the notion that our lives are different, not less—eliminating the need for sugar. [rft]

Do you use the military analogy?
Are you ready to stand in your truth?

  1. VikkiVikki05-02-2012

    my husband was in the military and now he is in prison. I have been on both sides of it. To be honest it’s pretty much the same, they only things that are different are prison wives get to see their husband every weekend and military wives (if husband is over seas) has to wait for r&r and their husbands get to come home after a year, prison wives have to wait years. Otherwise, we both get phone calls, we can write and recieve letters.

  2. JackieJackie05-03-2012

    Seriously? I know you are using the analogy of somebody being “away” but it is disgusting and offensive to compare a felon who broke our countries laws and is now being punished rightly to someone who will lay down his life to defend this country that your partners took advantage of and spit on. This is pathetic and disgusting.

    • ZaraZara01-12-2013

      you are pathetic and discusting.

      • JackieJackie01-27-2013


        If you’re going to insult, at least spell it right :)

    • AndreaAndrea05-24-2013

      You know what I think, you are one of our countries problems now-a-days. So quick to judge, so obviously not a Christian. Every person on this God given Earth make mistakes, it’s what you learn from them and how you better yourself, and yes some may be in prison for thier mistakes, but that give you no right to judge. It’s people like you that make it harder for “US”. If you are not on here to help then you need to leave.

  3. I hope you don’t mind, I quoted this article and linked to your blog on my personal blog,
    which is about my experience with loving someone who is incarcerated.
    I just discovered you today and I think you are AMAZING, eloquent, knowledgeable. I plan to come back often. Thank you!

  4. layladieslayladies06-06-2012

    I didn’t take this as saying that Military and Felons are the same, I think she was comparing our experiences and feelings as our loved ones are away to be similar to those of military spouses…with loved ones away.

  5. cherishchellecherishchelle10-06-2012

    Unfortunitely I’ve done both. My boyfriend is in the military and once he’s done with his sentance, thank god, they are willing to allow him back in to finish out his contract. I worry about him more when he’s out doing training exercies then I do when he’s locked up. Although the hurt and the loneliness is still the same. I hurt for him knowing he has no privicy or freedom. With the military, if I write letters, I know that they are personal and I can write straight from the heart. During his sentance I feel held back whenever I write him just knowing that someone is going to “look over it” before he even gets a chance to see the words. Though the reasoning behind reading over mail is logical I feel like its not just his privicy that’s taken its mine also. The fact that our calls can be monitored or recorded at anytime also doesn’t sit well with me. I feel like the prison staff know more about my life then they ever should and I’m an innocent law abiding citizen.

  6. ElizabethElizabeth01-04-2013

    My husband is actually in a military prison so I am in the middle of both worlds. Emotionally his deployment was much harder than the prison time has been even though the prison times is 4x’s as long as his deployment only deployment was(1 year vs. 3 months). The ability to have contact was much better with the deployment but in prison I know he’s safe and I don’t have that constant worry that he’ll be coming home in a pine box. A military wife can have her husband at home years at a time though while a prison wife doesn’t have that luxury. Pretty much other than the time away it’s like comparing apples to oranges.

    As to the comparing the “felons” to military commenter. 1. Not everyone in prison is a felon. 2. There are people who cross both spectrums, military members are not the Gods a huge portion of the public makes them out to be. They are human, some are good and some are bad. Even good people do stupid things sometimes or get themselves into bad situations. Does the fact that my husband is serving a relatively short sentence for a crime that will not follow him the rest of his life trump his 10 years of service because now he’s a “bad Guy”?

  7. GucciDollGucciDoll01-14-2013

    Wow, I really like this article… I don’t have a loved on in prison.. Yet. He’ll more than likely be incarcerated in a few days when he has court. We haven’t been together for that long and it may seem foolish that I definitely will be standing by him through all of it.. I know a lot of you women have husbands in prison and it must be different to be a wife than a girlfriend.. At least you can look down at your hand, at wedding ring everyday, and remember why you decided to be his rock and stay strong. I wish I could feel that sort of commitment as a girlfriend, but nothing is certain even after all of it.

  8. MilitaryvetMilitaryvet05-18-2013

    As a former member of the military AND a military spouse, I am VERY offended with this analogy. Military spouses are supporting their soldiers who are DEFENDING our country. The soldiers maybe away from their families but they are SUPPORTING their family with their service. Are inmates paying bills or causing more bills? An inmate chose to commit a crime and is paying for his actions. A soldier chose to defend his country and provide for his family. Please do not compare the sacrifice that my husband and I have made to an inmate and his spouse. Totally different experiences.

    • ReesyReesy05-20-2013

      Hello Militaryvet,

      If you read the post again, you will see that the post seeks to separate the two because they are very different. Thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment.

      Being offended is a choice. I can only assume since you didn’t mention that you have no ties to anyone in prison. To answer one of your questions, YES some inmates are paying bills. When two people are in a marriage, the location of the spouse doesn’t absolve him of any responsibility. A husband in prison can support a family as much as he can the same as anyone else. That too is a choice.

    • Andrea(Prison Wife)Andrea(Prison Wife)05-24-2013

      If you don’t like what is posted, then don’t come to the page plain and simple. My whole family is military and my husband is in prison for a stupid mistake when he was young. Everyone is entitled to their own opinoins but please don’t try and hurt feelings in the process.

    • kunquodakunquoda07-07-2013

      militaryvet, I am a vet too and I have to admit that I am offended by your uneducated and cold hearted attitude about a subject that you obviously know nothing about. …You would do well to repeat to yourself….judge not least yee be judged, and don’t judge me till you’ve walked a mile in my shoes…You clearly do not have a clue what prison life is like for the inmates as well as their spouses. And you certainly have no knowledge of our judicial system….Years ago, the general population would say the only reason a woman would go in the military was because she was ugly and couldn’t find a man any other and I both know that’s not true but it just shows how wrong people can say you’re sorry and may you be blessed in your life..

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  9. missjackiemissjackie05-21-2013

    I cant understand why people whom aren’t either the spouse or girlfriend/partner of someone currently incarcerated find themselves on a site that’s purpose is to provide support to those of us who do have an incarcerated loved one? Those of us who belong here on this amazing site are here for a positive support network made up of other women sharing similar life circumstances as our own and I’m sure I don’t only speak for myself when I say that I’m not interested in reading your two cents about anything we have chosen to share with one another in our efforts to offer support and encouragement to this community of strong women found on this site. So, that said hopefully next time you may consider refraining from offering your negative feedback on a site to which you clearly do not even have any business being on in the first place! Thank you

    • Andrea(Prison Wife)Andrea(Prison Wife)05-24-2013

      I agree with you Missjackie 1000% all the negativity hurts people that are only seeking help.

  10. jazz5janjazz5jan06-06-2013

    My husband is too far away to visit.I am also trying to get disability because of my health.I need to get away from where I’m staying.I want to move to chillicothe ohio.I have no kids.Is there any organizations that would help me?
    I’m so homesick for my heart.

  11. AzvioletAzviolet06-11-2013

    I just read your article and I can’t agree more. I have never compared it to anything. In times of difficulty I have researched was that military couple separated by long distance get through. But I have never compared. I would expect great resistance from anyone that I said that to if I ever did compare.
    Now, my partner was in a car accident and she hit someone who sadly passed away. There was no substance involved and she has no criminal history. But she has been in prison for almost 10 years.
    When I say my wife is in prison there is no way to explain it.
    People assume she is a loser and so am I for waiting.
    I like the way you wrote about standing by vs. waiting.
    It’s true society will never ever give any respect to prison wives. But there should be some- after all, when a person is locked up for various offenses (I personally don’t believe in prisons for anyone except murderers and rapists and those who are seriously unable to conduct themselves around other human beings), prison wives are many times the glue that holds the family together. Keeps contributing to society, and encourages as supports her partner to do the same upon release.
    After all, without someone believing in you and loving you, what are we to become?
    Thanks again for the article.

  12. BrianneBrianne06-20-2013

    Thank you for writing this I hope you don’t mind if I quote you for a petition and a paper I’m doing. Your writing is eloquent professional and ring a mass amount of truth as a P.W I go through this everyday and I feel similar to military spouses being I grew up a military brat with a dad in the service. Thank you for writing this n giving us a voice too.

  13. kunquodakunquoda07-07-2013

    I want to thank you for this article. I am a veteran myself and I have a husband in prison.. In my case I was the one away from home and I can tell you, the letters from family and friends make all the difference in the world. I worried about my loved ones while I was away, I wondered what they were doing, where they were and who they were with, were they okay, were they eating right, how their health was and if they thought about me the same way. This is very similar to the feelings I have now about my husband being in prison and those are the thoughts he has about me. I think the main difference is that our military men that are away from home are thought of by the general public as being honorable and our husbands that are away from home while doing time in prison is thought of by the general public as being cast outs and bad. In my husband’s case, he had nothing what so ever to do with the crime he was convicted of. He was convicted of felony murder based on the felony murder rule. He is an innocent man. So for those who commented on all the wrong doers in prison, trust and believe not everyone in prison deserves to be there. And while the wives of men in military worry for their safety, well, I worry about my husbands safety too. There is a lot of violence in our prisons and like our military they have to fight to survive. Yes there is a difference but when it comes right down to it, we miss our husbands when they are away regardless of WHY they are away. I will be there for my husband for as long as it takes, I love my husband just as much as military wifes love theirs. If my husband was away for military reasons, I would stand by his side and I’ll stand beside him now and I will help him fight the battles he has to fight. I will be his voice when prison walls silence his, I will be his strength when he feels weak, and I will do what ever it takes to help him through this..and one day we will both be free…. together.

  14. reneerenee07-18-2013

    Thank you, thank you so much for this site. It has bought so much encouragement to me.

  15. AshleyAshley06-07-2014

    My fiancé is incarcerated and has been for the last 7 months. He still has a while to go. I get told all the time how crazy I am for waiting. That life goes on. This article has brought so much encouragement. Thank you for this site. I am so glad I am not alone.

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Living your life when your partner is locked up means knowing what you can and can not control and making the most of it.

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