What kind of a woman marries a man behind bars? This is the first question people generally ask when they learn about someone who has married an inmate. People typically assume that women who marry men behind bars have something innately wrong with them. A mental or emotional disorder of some kind. Perhaps a severe case of “bad boy” syndrome. Perhaps these women lack self-esteem or have issues of insecurity that cause them to gravitate to men in situations that confine their movement, and thus, their ability to be unfaithful. Perhaps no one else wants these women and in a mad dash of desperation they cling to the first man who shows them an ounce of love and affection. I mean, why else would these women settle for men behind bars? There must be something wrong with them, right?
The reasons why women marry men behind bars have been theorized about, speculated about, talked about, and talk showed about for as long as I can remember. Books and articles have been written on this very topic usually featuring women from abused and dysfunctional backgrounds, who for whatever reasons weren’t quite able to rise above their circumstances, whose troubled childhood and family of origin issues, coupled with a traumatic youth, opened them up to relationships as equally troubled as the experiences they endured. The stereotype associated with women who marry men behind bars is that they’re trailer/ghetto trash, uneducated, dependent on the welfare system, typically minority, old, fat and ugly, and the list goes on and on.
All of these assumptions, speculations, theories and so on, while may be applicable in some cases, are quite far from the truth. Today’s prison wife is progressive, educated, professional, resilient, self-sufficient, secure, confident, well-spoken, and yes folks, even classy. They marry men behind bars not because of mental or emotional instability, or because they are so desperate for love that they accept the first Joe Blow that comes along. They marry for love and because they believe in the men they have chosen to spend their lives with, come what may. Notice that the operative word here is “chosen.” These women have had plenty of options. Some have even been in so-called “normal” marriages prior to the their marriage to an inmate. Stereotypes no longer apply to this special group of women. This a brand new breed of prison wives-women with diverse interests, special talents and a variety of skills and experiences who chose to embark on a different kind of love journey not because of desperation or low self-esteem, and not because no other men would have them. They chose this journey because they love and because they believe in themselves and the men they love enough to give them and this kind of a relationship a chance. They’ve examined the pros and cons associated with being married to an inmate from every angle, to include the fact that they’re in prison because they committed a crime, and they arrived at the conclusion that despite the act(s) that resulted in their loved one’s incarceration, the good in them far outweighed the bad that they did and they deserve a second chance.
Being married to an inmate is different kind of love song, but the melody remains the same…