It’s time again for “Dear Wendy Updates,” a feature where people I’ve given advice to in the past let us know whether they followed the advice and how they’re doing now. Today, we hear from Nicki Stapleton (aka “honeybeenicki”) who shared an incredibly candid and touching essay with us last year about her life as a prison wife. Go back and (re)-read it, and then read her uplifting update below (spoiler: her husband’s been released from prison and is back home now!).
After years of waiting, and a lot of ups and downs, my husband came home on October 15th, 2012. I told him I wouldn’t be able to be home to meet him because of the new job I had just started, but a migraine (likely caused from stress) sent me home early that day so I was there for him on his first day back, after all. The look on his face when I opened the door after I heard the transport van pull up was worth it.
I wasn’t sure how I’d feel when he got home. I had a lot of built-up anger and hurt and, honestly, at some times, I was completely indifferent to the fact that he was gone and the fact that he would be coming home. But when he walked up those steps, I basically jumped on him, nearly knocking him down the stairs, and I knew we’d be ok.
I’ve mentioned it before, but I’ll say it again: being the wife of someone is prison is not easy. It is hard to have very limited time to talk to each other on the phone and even less face-to-face contact. But when you have so little, you can do so much. Our communication was and still is a lot better than it ever had been before. We didn’t fight over stupid little things because they didn’t matter. We have tried to continue with that since he’s been home. We talk through things and try to be more cognizant of one another’s feelings and needs.
For the first three months, he was on electronic monitoring (aka “the bracelet”) and was only allowed to leave the house from 7:00 am to 7:00 pm, so we didn’t really get to go on “dates” at night after work. The night he got the bracelet off, we went out for a big steak dinner and had a great time. We make a point of making sure we have good one-on-one time.
Probably the best part of having him home is that not only do I have my husband back, but I have my kids back too. His two children, who are now 15 and 12, are back to their regularly scheduled visits with us. I worked very hard to get their rooms in our new home ready, and they love them. When they are here, I feel nearly complete. My family is back, and that’s all I need.
Today, I’m in a job I truly love, my husband now has a job — although he doesn’t really enjoy it — and we are rebuilding our life together. Some days it’s like he wasn’t even gone. Some days some of that old hurt and anger comes back up, but we know how to deal with it and talk through it. We are looking toward the future and have big plans for our family. Before he was arrested, we had discussed becoming foster parents and adopting a child. A felony on his record, especially with current probation, makes it nearly impossible to adopt. He had a vasectomy during his first marriage because his ex-wife had two very hard pregnancies, so conceiving naturally is not an option. We are looking into artificial insemination with a donor (hey guys… anyone want to be a no-contact or limited-contact donor? That stuff’s expensive when you go through an agency!) and will be starting the process some time in the next few months, so hopefully there will be a new baby honey bee wandering around sometime in the next year.
I wouldn’t recommend the life of a prison wife to anyone, but I don’t regret my decision to stick around. I still love my husband very much and I was able to see the change in him, which made all the difference in the world. In the end, it has made us both stronger and has made our relationship much better. It was a long, hard road and has shown me my own strengths and weaknesses. I look at it as an experience that I can use to define myself and make myself a better person.
I’m so happy to hear you’re doing well and are happy to have your husband and stepkids home. Good luck on the next stage of your life and family. From what we know about you here, I’m sure others will agree that you seem like someone who would make an amazing mother (as I’m sure you’re a wonderful stepmom!).
If you’re someone I’ve given advice to in the past, I’d love to hear from you, too. Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org with a link to the original post, and let me know whether you followed the advice and how you’re doing now.
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