We’re happy to hear that you will soon be released and are blessed to have a spouse waiting for you to come home. We’re glad that our programs of The Inmates Marriage Encounter By Mail, and Dialogue By Mail have been helpful to you as they have been to many couples separated by incarceration.
When you get home remember all the resolutions you have made. It will be easy to take your spouse and family for granted because you’ll have much more time with them. It takes effort to make a good marriage.
Unity as a couple is a gift from God. If taken for granted it can slip away. Then we feel distant even when we’re together. To strengthen your unity we suggest that you set aside time each day for each other. Make time to sit and talk ALONE – after dinner, before bedtime, after breakfast – whenever you can both fit it into your day. Perhaps you’d like to talk while you take a walk or sit outside or lie in bed at night. The important thing is to be faithful about doing it every day, to be alone, and just talk (no TV, reading or doing other jobs at the same time). By giving each other your full attention you keep the atmosphere ready to share deeper feelings and thoughts. Talk about what you did that day, and how you felt about doing it — bored, scared, excited, proud of yourself – that kind of stuff. Maybe you learned something new about yourself or your spouse that day. Share it. Ask your spouse to be that open with you. This helps to build intimacy between you.
If you have trouble talking out a misunderstanding or a problem, go back to writing letters. Put on paper how you feel. Concentrate on “I” statements rather than “you” statements. For example, a sentence like “I feel unappreciated” makes for open communication more than saying “You don’t appreciate all I do.” See the difference? What you’re really doing is owning your feelings and thoughts and not blaming someone else for them. You don’t have to agree on every topic, but you do need to understand each other. We always come out better for it once we reach an understanding.
We strongly urge you to pray together each day. It doesn’t have to be long or eloquent, just so it’s sincere. Praying together helps you to strengthen your relationship with God as a couple. As we grow closer to God we also grow closer to each other.
Try to frequently do little kind things for your spouse. Put a note of your love in a place she’ll eventually find, like in the refrigerator, or in a magazine he reads. Say you think his/her hair looks nice. Help out whenever you can. You don’t have to be in a loving mood when you do these things. Just ask the Lord to allow His love to flow through you to your spouse when you do these acts of love. Then God will help your love to grow.
Remember that love is something we decide to do, not just a feeling. That’s why we have to make a commitment to our marriage. We experienced our Marriage Encounter over 40 years ago. We love each other very much but we don’t always feel our love as an emotion. We keep loving each other because we made the decision to love even when the other isn’t very lovable. We show our love in these instances by talking things over, listening, holding each other, praying, and doing little acts of love. We keep in mind that crisis isn’t the death of love but the proof of love.
If you haven’t been married in a religious ceremony, consider doing that. Let the Lord become the third party in your relationship. With His help you CAN build a strong, lasting relationship.
With sincere concern,