4 Ways To Support A Loved One Whose Spouse Is In Jail

Sophia Young
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Struggling In Their Own Prisons

Crime does not pay. The adage rings true not only for the offender but more so for the loved ones he or she will leave behind. We can only imagine how they struggle not knowing how the incarcerated copes in prison. But we realize that no amount of visits can make up for time lost. They are simply looking and talking to each other behind a glass or acrylic wall; so near yet so far away. 

In the 2018 study entitled "Depression in the wives of convicted men: prevalence and associated factors," the proponents noted that there are marked differences in the spouses' behavior when they meet their husbands during a visit. While they would be happy, their humor, physiognomy, and their way of speaking change from their usual patterns. 

Furthering the observation, the proponent looked at their attitudes upon going home from a visit. Some of the 349 women who were sampled came out of the facility crying and even whining. Going deeper, some of them experienced feelings of despair, especially those who had not reached a definite legal resolve for their husbands. Meanwhile, some of the women even reported that they felt unease and uncertainty going home—dreading what may happen when they do get there. 

Needless to say, there is an evident need for spouses to be given support while their partner is in incarceration. And while the study above only focused on women, the same could undoubtedly be said for men whose wives are serving time. 

There’s no way to know what they are going through unless we walk a mile in their painful shoes. We would probably be at a loss too as to what to do when a loved one goes to jail.

This article was written to help people give support to friends or family whose spouses are incarcerated. If you are someone who is personally dealing, it is also our hope that what we have put here can help you put things into perspective.

4 Ways You Can Help 

Reach Out; Be Consistent in Communication

As stated in the study above, wives whose husbands are serving jail time are observed to have changes in their overall attitude. The study furthers that these women suffer from depression. And while these may have sprung have previous conditions, the fact of the matter is, that their isolation from their spouses created precedence for the condition to return or worsen. 

Establish constant communication with them. Call them by phone or any communication app available to both of you. And when you talk, make sure to not make the conversation a gloomy one. Ask how they are doing, and how they are feeling, and be sensitive enough not to make statements that may trivialize their struggle. These statements may include, "I know how you feel" or "This too shall pass." Craft your words well. Know when to tame your tongue. 

Let The Spouse Chart the Direction of the Conversation

Now that you have established communication, it would be wise to let the spouse direct where the discussion will go. Initiating the course would make you appear intrusive and overbearing. Although you mean well and would not want to rattle any cages, you will find that determining what topic to pursue is challenging. Again, understand that you simply do not know how the other person is feeling. This should compel you to just let them initiate the topic. 

There will come a time, however, that the person will be able to open up about the case. Until then, you should hold your peace and be patient.

Sometimes, A Listening Ear is Enough

Actively listening to your friend or family's concerns regarding the incarceration is already a huge deal for them. While it sounds simple, it is not. 

People who are embattled with emotional issues find listening to be therapeutic. You may ask questions that do not overstep your boundaries. A good one would be, "What can I do to help?" This shows that you are genuinely invested in the situation and would want to assist depending on the way he or she would allow it. 

Be Ready To Assist In Any Area of the Spouse's Life

Understand that the spouse would need space to rebuild his or her life while his or her better half is in prison. This may include getting a new job or settling in a new home that would allow financial adjustments. 

During these times, they would need other areas of support apart from emotional ones. We are not saying that you should be prepared to lend money with a promise of a long-term payment. Although we are not honestly discounting that, we are referring to small, mundane daily tasks like helping out to pick up some groceries or laundry, doing a bit of babysitting or house-sitting, taking the kids to school, and the like. These little things are crucial to the spouse's effort to keep life going. If he or she falters in any, it may impact the balancing act the person is trying to do. You can step in through any form or capacity to help out.

Sensitivity and Understanding are Crucial

When a close loved one, regardless if it is a spouse or some other close relative, is committed to prison time, the ones who are left to face their lives outside experience a different kind of imprisonment. They are trapped inside their grief, not knowing until when they could cope. 

As this is the case, it would do them well if we are going to be a little bit kinder and more sensitive toward their emotional needs. 

So if you know someone who has been struggling with being estranged from their husbands or wives because of prison, know that there is something you can do to alleviate what they are feeling. Of course, what you can do does not come to par with what they want and need. However, exerting the time and effort to be with them and console them can make a lot of difference.

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Article info

Published: 2022/10/29 - Updated: 2022/10/29
Total: 1011 words

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About the Author

Sophia Young recently quit a non-writing job to finally be able to tell stories and paint the world through her words. She loves talking about fashion and weddings and travel, but she can also easily kick ass with a thousand-word article about the latest marketing and business trends, finance-related topics, and can probably even whip up a nice heart-warming article about family life. She can totally go from fashion guru to your friendly neighborhood cat lady with mean budgeting skills and home tips real quick.

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