Losing a spouse to death or divorce is never easy. In both of these instances, finding support and resources is simple. However, if you've lost your spouse because he is in prison, it might not be so easy to survive on your own once he is gone. Along with fewer available resources, the stigma that goes with having a husband in jail can make it difficult for you to look for help.
You are likely to be upset, hurt or angry if your husband goes to prison. Immediately following his arrest and incarceration, you might have a difficult time handling these emotions. You might feel shame, anxiety and depression. Centerforce, a resource for families affected by incarceration, encourages you to get support to help you work through your emotions. Look for support from her family, church or close friends. A support group of other wives whose husbands are also in prison can be a valuable way to find people to commiserate with, get advice from and to spend time with.
When your husband goes to prison, it is difficult to work on keeping your marriage strong. Even if you are able to visit him on a regular basis, you won't have privacy or opportunities for intimacy, which can negatively affect your ability to communicate and stay close, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. You might have trouble keeping your love for your husband alive -- and if his prison sentence is lengthy -- divorce is a possibility, according to Dr. Jennifer Baxt, a licensed marriage and family counselor cited on the Complete Counseling website. Online therapy or counseling can help you stay committed to one another and it can also help you work through issues that arise should you decide to get divorced.
Even if your husband didn't make much money before he went to prison, the loss of his income is certain to cause a strain in your budget. Combined with the attorney fees, gas driving to and from the prison and collect calls from your husband, you might find yourself short on money and many women whose husbands are incarcerated must go on public assistance to make ends meet, notes the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Make a budget you can stick to and make sure you include the expenses associated with jail visits and phone time, recommends Centerforce. Carpooling, cutting coupons, moving in with a friend or family member, moving into a smaller home and selling an extra car are other ways to save money.
Watching your husband go to prison is difficult, but adding kids to the mix makes it more so. In essence, you're a single parent until your husband comes home, even if you decide to allow them to visit their dad in prison. In addition to single parenting, your children are likely to feel scared, ashamed, worried or sad without their father at home. Family therapy can help you parent your kids during this difficult time. Find support where you can, whether this means relying on friends to babysit while you work or visit the prison, taking money from your parents to buy the kids school clothes or going on public assistance so you can still spend time with your children instead of having to work long hours. Try to keep your routine as normal as possible and allow your kids ample time to talk to you about what's going on, suggests Centerforce.
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- U.S. Department of Health and Human Services: The Effects of Incarceration on Intimate Partner Relationships
- Complete Counseling Solutions: What Do You Do When Your Spouse Goes to Jail?
- Centerforce: 10 Steps To Success While Your Family Member is Inside
- Professional Counseling: Help! My Partner is in Prison
Eliza Martinez has written for print and online publications. She covers a variety of topics, including parenting, nutrition, mental health, gardening, food and crafts. Martinez holds a master's degree in psychology.