Prison is a whole world of its own. Living amongst other convicts, following a disciplined but horrifying routine, having no freedom of where to go and what to eat- prison changes people completely. The first few months people really rebel against the culture of the prison; they don’t talk to people, but to really adjust to life there they have to get used to it.
Imagine being in a prison with hundreds of other criminals and no outside interaction; even the sanest minds go insane in a confined space with aggressive people everywhere. There is no reason or logic, just the force of power.
What to expect when an Inmate comes home?
No matter how long or short your husband was in prison, there will be certain personality changes that you, as their spouse at home, need to understand. Research shows that on average, a person spends at least four years in prison, and that time is more than enough to change how a person thinks and behaves.
Your relationship will change. You can’t expect your spouse to be the same man who married you years ago, sure, the love will be there, but that doesn’t guarantee that everything else will be the same.
They will have the hardest time adjusting to life after prison: routine, sleepless nights, overwhelming families and friends, health changes etc. Make sure you’re just there with them in support and give them space to adjust to life in their own space.
When they come back home, they might try to assert their authority over you by being unreasonably demanding: might want to move things around, take over more closet space or even ask for meals at unrelated times. Let them do it, give them the freedom to make their own space. What you can do is ask for what they would like to eat, or if they would like to help around in the kitchen. Ask for their opinion, make them feel special and wanted; they haven’t felt like that in years.
What Wife should understand when her Husband is Released from Jail?
It’s a tough spot for you and him both. When your husband is released from jail, here is what you should understand to make your relationship better and easier for both of you.
- Parole or probation: The first thing you need to understand is that your husband has been released on parole, which means they will have to comply with certain conditions like managing a curfew time, drug tests, geographical limits, going to therapy, mandatory job search etc. This may ruin your late night plans or going on vacations for a while, but it is important to comply with these conditions.
- Financial situation: It is obvious that your husband won’t get a job right after he’s released. The job hunt will take weeks, maybe months, and during that time your financial situation could really take a hit. You need to make sure you start saving for rainy days.
- Plan your future: The relationship will change, and if you’re lucky, it will change very less. Just like you need to have a conversation about your relationship, you have to plan the future too. What is life going to be like for your children, how the house environment will change etc.
- Socialize: It is important for your spouse to start socializing with the outside world to adjust, however, make sure it isn’t right after they’re released. When a good amount of weeks have passed and they have adjusted well with the house, then start having friends over. Please note that gatherings may be overwhelming and may trigger their anxiety, so make sure you talk about this with your husband first.
Emotional Stages of Incarceration
To really understand how your relationship will change after your husband is released from prison, you have to understand what he went through there. Experts say that there are five emotional stages of incarceration that inmates go through:
- Denial: This is always the first stage where inmates are not even sure why they were imprisoned. This stage could last up to 12 months.
- Anger: When they realize that they can’t deny their situation any longer, they lash out in anger. They often harass weaker inmates, and are always in an aggressive mood.
- Bargaining: This is the stage where they ponder over why it all happened to them; they think of reasons like an abusive household, or that they were sexually harassed as a teenager etc.
- Despair: When all the pondering is done, they get sad and dejected. The feeling hits them like a truck and they seclude themselves from everything.
- Acceptance: Once inmates accept that they will be imprisoned for a long time and their only family is now convicts in orange suits, their behavior changes drastically. They might either be super nice to other people or become completely numb to their surroundings.
Relationships after Incarceration
The moment you hear the news about your husband being released, you’re excited and thrilled to have them back home. The person you longed for years is finally coming back to you and there is a rush of emotions: excitement, nervousness and anxiety. Your spouse is feeling the same way.
BUT, your relationship will take tough turns when your husband is back. The best way to cope up with that is having a face-to-face adult conversation about the situation. Discuss how the relationship dynamic is going to be like. Your spouse spent a hard time in prison, but you also spent a terrifying time without them in this world. Both of you will have to adjust, you may be more so than him.
Adjusting to Life after Jail
As a former inmate, adjusting to life after jail for you will be nothing less than a rollercoaster ride. You will deal with anxiety after jail, overwhelming emotions, routine changes, financial crunches and so much more. Here is what you can do to make your and your spouse’s life easier after jail.
- Communication is key: Talk to your spouse about everything, tell them what you’re feeling, how you would like certain things, how the relationship will change, what you need and how you would like your space. Your spouse also knows that you’ve had a tough time, so they will understand. Tell them everything you’re feeling.
- Make a routine: Right after you’re released, you will have a hard time adjusting to your family’s routine. What time they wake up, when they have their meals, when the kids come back home, the key is to make a routine and stay busy. Look for a job which allows you to wake up at a reasonable time and come home too. Adapt new hobbies like going to the gym, cooking or reading.
- No negative influences: Make sure you’re not exposed to any negative influences. Because this will not only affect your life but could also send you back to prison.
- Therapy: Most people when they come out of prison have the hardest time adjusting, for such people therapies help to calm down their anxiety and their thought process to make rational decisions. They often think their prison experience is too scary to talk with their spouses, so talking to a therapist actually relaxes their nerves and helps them to cope up better.
Adjusting to life after imprisonment is difficult for the inmate as well as their families; it’s a whole world they’ve left behind to a whole other world they’re entering. To make the relationship suffer the least and to make sure things don’t go sideways, there are certain things a wife needs to understand and certain things the husband has to comply with. It is always going to be a two-way street.