How to Have a Healthy Relationship After Serving Time in Prison

by Nicki Callahan

About Nicki Callahan

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Nicki Callahan began her literary career in 1989. Her work has appeared in "The Charlotte Observer," "The Patriot Ledger," "The Wasatch County Courier," "Utah Homes & Garden Magazine" and "The Retired Officer Magazine." Callahan studied English literature and creative writing at the University of California, Los Angeles and the University of Utah.

The transition back to the community can be challenging for many ex-inmates. Reconnecting with family and friends is often intimidating, and depending on the crime, some people may choose not to associate with an ex-convict. When entering back into the world of dating or marriage it may be difficult for one or both people to put your experiences behind you and move on to create a healthy and loving relationship. Conflict resolution, in particular, is often a source of struggle. Adapting to prison usually forces inmates to create habits of thinking and acting that can be dysfunctional once released from prison. Many inmates feel threatened during a conflict and may react as they would have on the prison yard. Openness and communication are important elements in moving forward. Planning to make positive changes in your new life will lead you in the right direction.

Find a local counselor or therapist who you feel comfortable being open with and who will give you constructive advice on how to transition back into family relationships and a new dating life. You may try a few different counselors before finding someone you enjoy talking to and trust. Depending on the nature of your prison sentence, and particularly if it was a violent crime, you may consider a therapist who specializes in the crime which you committed. Make visits to a counselor a regular part of your week.

Join a support group. Connecting with people who are going through similar experiences can be very helpful. There are many others out there just like you who have served time in prison and are struggling with the transition.

Open paths of communication between yourself and family. One of the first steps in re-establishing a healthy life is to connect with family members. Keep in mind that sometimes it takes time to convince them that you can be trusted and won't be returning to prison. They may seem distant at first, but your time behind bars has been hard on them too and your continued patience will pay off. Share your experiences, remembering to focus on what you learned about yourself and how you plan to make positive changes.

Enter the world of dating with honesty and openness. The fact that you've spent time in prison may be intimidating to many dating prospects, but don't hide your experiences and feelings from them; they will probably have many questions that will take time to answer. Assure them that you are moving towards a better future. Treat your significant other with respect.

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Tips

  • Ask your parole officer for a therapist referral.
  • Many therapists work on a sliding scale for fees, ask around and find one that will work within your budget.
  • If you have insurance therapy may be covered by your plan, inquire with your insurance carrier.