A few days ago, Hubby and I celebrated 7 years of marriage. We celebrated separately of course; we've only spent one anniversary together in all of those years.
We have two anniversaries each year. Our wedding anniversary in December and also our "first contact" anniversary in June. That marks the day that we first knew each other, the day we first talked. Hubby always places more importance on that one than I do, possibly because he has been married before and I haven't.
When I read others' posts about their anniversaries with their husbands, fiances and boyfriends, I always think they get a bit gushing and luvvie. I'm sure that to them, their men are wonderful and everything they ever wanted in a man - except for not actually being there of course. I don't want to go down that same route with this post. Instead, I want to put down what it means to me to be a wife.
So many women go into marriage thinking about what they will gain from it. Whether it be financial or emotional or practical support, there is often a benefit to being married rather than staying single (or even staying with the guy but not being married). When you marry an inmate, it really doesn't work like that at all, especially if the inmate is in TDCJ.
If you are looking for financial help, you really should look elsewhere. TDCJ inmates are not paid for the work that they generally have to do, so you'd better make sure you can support yourself, and him (and any kids or other family you might have or acquire through marriage). I have a good full-time job which is enough to cover our expenses; he hates it that I send him money each month, but if I didn't he wouldn't be able to write to me or the rest of our family or friends.
Practical support is also, obviously, not there. I take out my own rubbish, do my own dishes, put up my own shelves and do my own laundry. Ours is a self-contained relationship in that we each take care of ourselves and not physically each other. This wouldn't work for everyone, you have to be very comfortable with your own company and resourceful, not minding if you break a nail here and there.
So what's in it for me, I hear you wondering.
At the risk of slipping into slushiness, it's the emotional support. I'm a pretty together woman, and can draw on my own reserves when I need to, but what I get out of this arrangement is someone who cares what's happening to me. Someone to discuss stuff with, and make decisions with, someone to tell about my day who is genuinely interested. Someone to share new discoveries with, someone to encourage and who encourages me in return. It's a bonus that I happen to think he is damned good looking.
I take my vows very seriously. Not the common "love, honour and obey" that you get in religious ceremonies, because we didn't have one of those. We were married by a Judge and the words she used were much more relevant to us, about being two individuals making the choice to face whatever life throws at them together. To be each other's shelter and stability. That was my promise to Hubby, that I would continue to be as I had been up to then, that I could give him consistency and stability.
The past 7 years have been..... unorthodox. Naturally there are things I would change if I could, but he isn't one of them.