Have you ever wondered about the families who support those who are incarcerated? There are around 2.2 million people incarcerated across the United States.
There’s a lot of misconceptions about prison wives. I think that the media plays a large role in how we view women supporting their partners while incarcerated. ‘They are wasting their time. How could they get involved with a criminal? I would never do that. That would NEVER happen to me.’
I know there has been a lot of buzz around Love and Hip Hop’s Mendeeces and Yandy Smith. In case you aren’t a fan of trash TV as I am, Mendeeces is about to do 5-10 years for drug trafficking. Their wedding was just aired on VH1, and he will be starting his sentence in August 2015.
I think it’s difficult to imagine supporting your partner or spouse in prison. Most of us can’t fathom having a partner involved in criminal activity or any wrongdoing. However, things happen. Sometimes, the unforeseen occurs, and it one has to make a choice. I had the opportunity to interview a woman by the name of Lianna Arguedas, a real life prison wife. Her husband Alex, is currently serving an 18 months sentence in upstate New York.
What is your partner’s name: Alex
How long have you known each other? Since January 2012
How long has your husband been incarcerated? Since December 3 2013. So that’s 17 months and 23 days. But who’s counting right.
How did you meet?
I met Alex through my best friend who was dating his friend at the time. The first time we “met” was actually in August of 2011 however I don’t remember actually meeting him but he sure does. I was with my girlfriend. He was with his boy. After this initial “meeting” he began asking about me and trying to get my number. He finally was successful in January of 2012 when my friend asked me if she could give him my number. And I said “you know me. Use your judgement” and that’s how it began. We started dating soon after that first conversation.
How long have you been married?
We had a very quick relationship. Started dating in January 2012. Engaged July 2012 and married September 7 2012.
What do you love the most about your partner?
What I love most about Alex is his big heart. He has the rough and tough exterior but inside he is a sensitive loving man. And I love how he has no shame is showing that love for me and his family. He is very generous and kind and would give his last to help someone who had less than he. He is a very loyal person and I trust him with everything. He would do anything for his family. I love that he is also a clown and always makes me laugh.
Do you have any kids?
We have our first child. A little girl named Ivy who is now 19 months old.
What’s the best thing about being married so far?
The best thing about being married for me is that my husband is my best friend. We are there for each other always. We tell each other everything. I can honestly say that I’ve finally found the person who I can be totally and complete myself with and never feel uncomfortable or judged. I know he loves me for me and I love him for him. Good. Bad. Doesn’t matter.
What’s something you’ve learned?
I’ve learned that no relationship is perfect. There is no such thing. A marriage is a relationship that requires constant work. You have to nurture your marriage in order for you to grow together as husband and wife and not grow apart. It won’t always be good. There are definitely times where you want to give up, walk away, quit. But it’s how you cope in those times that can make your relationship stronger. Being married has been a humbling experience also. I have definitely learned that being a good communicator is important and that’s something that both of us have had to work on in our marriage. As my husband would say to me “it’s not what you say, it’s how you say it”.
Any advice to newly engaged couples?
Just to be prepared for the ups and downs and know that it’s completely normal. No marriage is perfect. The struggle is real. But never forget the reasons why you got married in the first place.
What’s the hardest thing about being apart?
As a wife the hardest part about being apart aside for the obvious fact that I miss him desperately is not having my best friend here every day. I went from having it all. My husband and my baby living our life together. And now I can’t see his face or pick up the phone and call him or text him. He’s not here to go out with me like my friends do with their husbands. And your friends will never understand this. They just don’t get it because they can’t relate. I have no one to comfort me when I’m stressed. The loneliness is the hardest. Or course we all have busy lives so that helps during the day. But every night when I go to bed and realize that I’m actually alone, it’s just me, it hits me like a ton of bricks every time. It never gets easier. It’s just a void that I carry in my heart and mind with me all day every day.
As a mother the hardest part about being apart is raising my daughter alone. This is our first child and he left when she was just 3 weeks old. It’s been hard to do it on my own. But the most painful part is knowing that my husband can never get these years back with our daughter. He’s missing everything. Her first step. Her first words. Her first birthday. Everything. Yea I’m here and I can share those moments with him but he can’t ever get that back. And for me it’s always bitter sweet. I’ll be so excited and full of joy but then immediately I feel sad and guilty that I get to experience all these moments and he can’t. It breaks my heart every time.
How did your family react, when he first went away?
My family as well as his are extremely supportive. My parents know Alex the way I do and love him too so they were also sad. But they did help me out a lot being that I had a newborn. I went to live with them a few days after he left and I stayed there a few months until I got the hang of being a “single” parent and I was able to cope better with my situation.
What should people know about ‘prison wives?’
People should know that it’s not at all like the movies or shows that you watch. This is real life. And it’s hard. There is nothing glamorous or exciting about this life. It’s actually extremely physically, mentally, emotionally exhausting and draining and not to mention expensive. Packages. Visits. Phone calls. Letters. Commissary. I usually go every week to see my husband so imagine. Not all of us are ratchet. A lot are actually professional women such as myself. People think just because you are married to an inmate that you automatically get “conjugal visits ” nope that’s not true either. That depends on the facility that your husband is in. We don’t even get those. Being a wife of an inmate means that you are your husband’s support system. Knowing you are probably the only person who is going to be there for him. And knowing that you’re also the one who gets to deal with him on good days and bad days. But by far the hardest part for me is having to travel 8 hours just to see my husband’s face and hold his hand and then have to leave him there at the end of the visit. It never ever gets any easier no matter how many times you visit. This is not the life for everyone. But this is my life for now. This is a commitment that you make to yourself and your husband. Just as you did on your wedding day, for better or worse. Right now this is the worst part. And all we can do is count down the days until it’s over.