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Prison Lover's Ten Step Digital Guide to a Healthy Relationship

By: Daniel J. Simms, Imprisoned Independent Journalist/Author/Host

If you are reading this then most likely you are in, or are interested to be in, a relationship with a prisoner. That is awesome. Believe it or not some of the most long-lasting and fulfilling relationships you can experience today are ones with a prisoner. Some of you reading this may have already learned this. The level of intimacy, dependency, security, and overwhelming love that blossoms up from such a dark place as prison sometimes shocks the conscious. Many had to ask themselves how a relationship with a prisoner could be so meaningful and fulfilling? The fact is prison love stories are not unique or rare. Millions of women have found the inexpressible joy that came with their unconventional prison relationships. The extreme closeness that is experienced in a prison relationship can astonish and surpass what many have expected or experienced in past free world relationships. In the free world people have constant distractions and countless responsibilities. The day-to-day grind of adulthood such as jobs, paying bills, family, education, and the eye-popping distractions of the internet, video games, sports, TV, movies, the list is endless, they all vie for your significant other's attention and focus. Yet when you meet and begin getting serious with a prisoner you find someone completely enthralled with you and your life. Such intensity is rarely found in free world relationships. That is why prison lovers are so quickly swept off their feet. Having someone completely and wholly focused on you and dependent upon you is immensely exciting. It stimulates parts of your psyche that have not been touched in ages. Therefore, you believe you found your soulmate. Congratulations. That is the easy part. Now it is time to maintain the relationship and even make it thrive. But how do you do that? It is not easy and many fail. And many don't even get past the honeymoon stage. As such it is critical to be intentional about ensuring your love story does not fail. Thankfully you have a friend, that is me, Linda, that has already embarked on this journey. I have taken the invaluable information I've learned and distilled it down to ten fundamental steps. These ten steps will positively benefit you on your remarkable journey. It provides stunning maxims that were unearthed by me through hard worn tenacity and sheer grit. As a woman with an inmate partner, I found very little to prepare and educate me on the ways to keep my relationship healthy and strong. Therefore, I knew such a guide was incredibly necessary and even demanded by the prison lover community. So here I am supplying what you needed, before you may have even known you needed it, because I genuinely want you to experience a blissfully healthy life and relationship. Take these ten steps and integrate them in your life. Share them with your significant other. Both of you should commit to wholeheartedly implementing them in your relationships. Then together take measured and honest assessments on how they are working. And whether deeper analysis and perhaps even engagement is necessary to accomplish your dream relationship.

When I started this project, I had to do a sincere evaluation of what was working and what was not in my prison relationship. Pretty quickly I determined this was not going to be easy. I found it hard to step back, examine my relationship with a clinician's eye, and then write it down to share it with you. My relationship is personal. Mine. And sharing it with anyone was very difficult. Nevertheless, I did it so that you will know that you are not alone. That you have a friend which was willing to spend months gathering canons from my own relationship, distilling them down to ten fundamental steps, and then writing them down to publish for you. That is me exhibiting friendship and dedication to you and our prison lover's community.  Not only that but it is also a demonstration of our organization's heart and commitment to faithfully serve you and the community as well. We are all one. Therefore, consume these ten steps with a contentment that they were toiled for solely to benefit you and this community.


1) Communication. The most important way to keep a relationship solidly growing and healthy is by talking. Many prisoner spouses hold and harbor their hardships and complicated life struggles in the free world from their significant others. That is wrong. Maybe they withhold because they believe their struggles are insignificant compared to their spouse's violent and turbulent prison lives. Or maybe it is because you are not used to radical closeness and intimacy on a level that exceeds any past free world relationships. No matter what it is that holds you back let it go. Communication is key to sharing life with someone. Particularly with someone incarcerated. Therefore, you may be hindering growth if you do not let your walls down. One of the biggest surprises that prison lovers found was the absolute focus, dependence, and deep appreciation their prisoner exhibited towards them. Feeling so profoundly important to someone may be intoxicating. Essentially prisoners live their lives through their prison lover's life therefore it is critical to be open and transparent. Conversely prisoners sometimes diminish and depreciate their daily existences insisting it is unimportant or unremarkable and not worthy of expressing. This likewise is troublesome for healthy communication. Most times this stems from believing their routine and bland lives in prisons are not important enough to share unless something eventful transpires such as a disruption in their lives. Needless to say, it is the prison lover's job to convince the prisoner that the mundane is important to you. On occasion you may have to draw the prisoner out and ask questions. Eventually over time both of you will enjoy and cherish the radical communication and closeness it engenders.

2) Go With Your Heart. Love is rare. Don't let others disparage or influence your decisions or feelings towards your significant other or your love story. Don't let transitory arguments or petty differences fester or destroy a potentially beautiful future. And do not sabotage yourself by being overly suspicious, jealous, or critical towards your loved one. Many prison lovers embark on the journey of falling in love with someone in prison with a wary eye. At the beginning of virtually any relationship it is prudent and wise to be critical


3) Be Intentional. Far too many believe relationships should be easy and not fraught with hard work. That is rarely the case. Most relationships, even in the free world, require us to be intentional about achieving a successful relationship. You can easily do this by taking steps like those offered here, or the many others offered elsewhere, and putting them into practice. Intentionally practicing them and training yourself to use them daily. If you are like most people, you have good intentions of doing something positive such as this but after a week it may be out of your mind. But if you want to have a healthy relationship you must not succumb to that. Instead, you must be intentional about how you can make your loved one happy? How can you please them? Or how can you improve the life of your loved one? Foundational to all this is looking for ways to step out of your comfort zone and taking intentional efforts to improve you, your loved one, or your love story.


4) Acceptance. This step is the jewel that most neglect or totally ignore. You must accept your loved one for who they are. If your loved one has an argumentative personality. A bossy one. Or even a negative thought process. You must accept them for who they are. You cannot change them. Only they can change themselves. Keep in mind this does not mean giving up on your loved one overcoming toxic behaviors. In fact, sometimes simply loving someone despite their flaws may be the key to a long-term successful relationship. Of course, in time maturity and growth will largely ensure they shed those troublesome behaviors. Especially if you are by their side lobbying them to change. What is most important is that your loved one knows that you love and accept them regardless of their flaws.


5) Have fun. It is important that you and your loved one try to find fun activities to do together. This is the key. There are vast pools of games, books, courses, puzzles, movies, TV shows, and countless other activities you two can do together despite being separated by prison walls. Doing things together strengthens bonds beyond what you may expect. The truth is we all love feeling connected. And there are very few ways to feel that connectivity, while separated by prison bars, besides long distance activities. Most of them can be used while on the phone. Of course, you should also do fun activities during visitation. The main thing is that you're striving to engage each other in fun stuff. That ensures you are both keeping a light joyful spirit in your relationship. Over time you both will welcome these activities and may even look back with nostalgia. Therefore, do not understate their importance.


6) Get Engaged Mentally. There are many ways to keep each other mutually engaged mentally. This key is critical to the growth and health of a relationship. So many relationships neglect meaningful mutual engagement, and It is ridiculous. Without working together on something of substance couples may never experience genuine next level intimate connectivity. This brings out a primal instinct to work together on reaching a mutually beneficial and rewarding result. It is easy to neglect this maxim because of work and the distractions of life. But you do so at your peril. The peril of lasting love. There are vast examples of mentally engaging projects you two can do together. It can be a couple’s course. A side hustle business. Or as simple as a starting a book reading routine. Of course, the best project to mentally stimulate and engage each other is by committing to a social justice cause that is bigger than you. When you participate in advancing a social good you are both mutually focusing on a project that can reap measurable and rewarding results. One such social justice mission you both are formally invited to join is ours! We would love to include you both. We greatly seek out people willing to start prison reform campaigns. Highlighting injustices and offering solutions for prison reform through the microphone of social media and protest is highly needed. Needless to say, our social justice campaign is merely one in the sea of worthy causes but if it fits your journey then please join our family.


7) Positive Influence. Old lives and bad behaviors need to be put behind both of you. For a relationship to truly grow healthier it must be based on positivity on all levels. Of course, you are going to face negative circumstances but as long as you two are not intentionally bringing it into the relationship you will prosper. Positive influence can mean seeking ways to impart wisdom to your loved one on various bad behaviors. For instance, if your loved one is overly argumentative, as spoken about above, it would behoove you to share positive ways to overcome that tendency. If your loved one smokes cigarettes, you cannot compel them to quit, they must do it on their own, but you can encourage and love them until they finally decide to do the right thing. Likewise, if you want to get into shape physically but are unable to get motivated your loved one should hold you accountable and push you to do what you wanted to do. Not only will positive influences improve your mental health, but they will also increase stability and long-term happiness. Ultimately those in a loving relationship have the sole responsibility to encourage and reinforce positivity in each other’s lives.


8) Balance. We must seek cooperation between each other to achieve optimal contentment. Accomplishing balance is not as easy as it sounds. There are always distractions vying for our attention and time. We must work together to delineate a work/life balance. This goes for those in the free world and those in prison. When in a meaningful relationship that transcends the prison bars each of you should be willing to put in the time and effort to ensure balance. This is easy. All you must do is sit down together and breakdown your individual routines. Write down everything you do that is mandatory during the workweek and the weekend. Then after that write down things you want to start doing, especially things you want to start doing together, and then keep each other accountable to stick to it. Keep it in mind it only takes seven days to turn your routine into a habit. That is based on behavioral psychology. Therefore, stick to it and it will become an integral part of your lives. Balance is important so please do not neglect this.


9) Truthfulness and Loyalty. There is virtually no scenario where a relationship will prosper and be healthy unless you remain truthful and loyal to each other. Lying creates secret gulfs between you two. It makes the one lying feel alone, while the one being lied to will perhaps sense the lie or the widening gap between you two, both eventualities are damaging and may destroy any potential long-lasting love. No one goes into a relationship with the intent of sabotaging it, yet some believe telling lies or omissions, no matter how small or big, will not have a significant impact on their relationship. That could not be further from the truth. It will. Maybe not immediately but over time they erode confidence and trust so please avoid this at all costs. Loyalty goes a very long way in building successful healthy relationships. When your significant other believes in you, is willing to stay true to you, and routinely has your back it speaks volumes more than any words could. For instance, when you have a vision or a dream, but are handicapped by imprisonment and your loved one advances the dream, that is loyalty. Especially if the dream is not particularly exciting or even an interest to the loved one. That demonstrates genuine loyalty. There are small ways to foster loyalty such as rebutting stereotypes or stigmas. Many people are ignorant of prisoners, dehumanizing them all as no good criminals deserving of maltreatment, when you stand up and reply to that hate and prejudice, it illustrates your loyalty. And not solely to your imprisoned loved one but also to the entire prison community. Likewise, it is important for the imprisoned loved one to exhibit dedication as well. They do this by routinely connecting with you, ensuring you are good, refusing to cheat emotionally with anyone else, and sticking up for you when someone criticizes or disparages your loved one or your love story. These little gestures, or big gestures, add up and make the other person feel cherished and loved so make efforts to ensure you are practicing loyalty.


10) Avoid Toxicity. There are so many ways to destroy a relationship, but toxicity is a foremost encapsulation of behaviors that are counterproductive and harmful to enjoying a healthy relationship. This guide is a small attempt at articulating and expressing ways to ensure your relationship grows properly and organically. Each of you knows what may be construed as toxic. Overly critical behaviors. Verbal abuse. Chronically disparaging behavior. On and on the list goes. Only you can identify and stop toxic behavior, your significant other can point them out and speak on them, but it is you that is responsible to remedy it. Please do so. Because if you don't it will invade and destroy, not only this current relationship, but every relationship you get into moving forward. So, try making efforts at this for your own wellbeing.


In conclusion we have embarked on an arduous journey of identifying, understanding, and hopefully implementing the ten steps to mastering a healthy relationship with the handicap of incarceration between you two. This is a feat not many can understand or comprehend. Enduring days, weeks, and months of actual physical separation, yet connecting on such a deep mental level that it exceeds comprehension, is not for everyone. Some people are inherently superficial and need that constant physical presence in their lives to feel whole. No matter how little, or much, time they are separated they will not be able to have this type of relationship. To each their own. If they cannot suffer some time apart to potentially find their soulmate and grow old together then that is their problem. Our job is not to convince others of the astonishing fulfillment and joy such a relationship can bring. We can only focus on our own growth and ensuring our future remains bright. Remember you are not alone. There are literally millions of past and present prison love stories. It seems some want to highlight the minority of them that turn out badly but ignore the good ones that prosper. Regardless of our organization you are not only valued you are also loved. We welcome you into our family. Please continue to strive for excellence. Do not settle for mediocrity. Or failure. Educate and fight for what you want in life. Once you do that you realize how much power and control you truly must achieve authentic happiness and joy.


Lastly, we hope you have received value from the free guide. If you had and would like to repay us then please take a picture of our podcast imagery, post it on social media with your testimonial, tag us with it, and share it. We'll share it with our followers as well. Together we can spread the word of how love and happiness are not confined even in a hate-filled environment such as prison. Thank you, And please stay well.

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