How do you know the man you’re waiting for is worth your time?

I’m gonna answer this question with as much sincerity and honesty as possible, and from the perspective of personal experience. Ultimately, there is no one size fits all answer since relationships vary like fingerprints, so take what you need, and leave the rest. But this is MY perspective on why I’m worth the time my wife is sacrificing for me and for our relationship. My goal is to give you some truths, with hopes that it’ll help you decide (in part or whole) whether the man you’re with is worth your time. fair? okay….

Everyday I wake up in a dark place and the first thing on my mind when I open my eyes, is her*Hadiyya Qayem*(how my baby doing? hope she’s havin’ a great day). When I see her I see the sunshine in her eyes, she is the light of my life. I tend to be honest to a fault, but my wife appreciates it because it gives her the freedom to make decisions based on specifics and truths, as opposed to having to navigate a relationship in a cloud of ambuguity and lies. Early on, I promised my wife that I’d always tell her the truth even if it was hard, and that’s just how our relationship is; I never lie to her, or purposely keep things from her. Knowing the inconsistencies and unfair treatment she’s endured in past relationships (including our 1st go round), its important to me, that my actions don’t add to that pattern. And she operates the same with me. Every move I make is deliberate, I don’t speak much about what I’m gonna do I just do it, because as we all know, all the words in the world mean absolutely nothing without action. Anyone at anytime can ask my wife “is your husband a man of his word?” and they’ll always get a resounding “Yes!” I love my wife, her love awakened my soul to act with purpose and transparency. Having a 2nd chance at her heart, it was imperative that I get it right, despite my current circumstances. I knew I needed her, and more importantly I knew she deserved the best of me, so I made no qualms about removing anything or anybody from my life that would create friction for our relationship. I WANT(ED) to be a good man to her, so I made/make the necessary steps to be just that. Daily. She is my heavenly reward (for what, im still not sure), so the LEAST I can do to repay my God for the blessing that she is, is to treat her with the utmost respect, love and care in every way.

That being said, I want you sisters to keep in mind that a relationship with a prisoner has the capacity to be just as amazing, or trivial, as a relationship with a man who’s on the street(“free”). In the case of the prison relationship, you know the guy you’re dealing with isn’t sleeping with anyone….well unless he’s an undercover, and if that’s the case, then he DEFINITELY ain’t for you. On the other hand, some guys on the street are not only sleeping around, but are also very capable of filling their women’s heads with hopes and wishes of a future they have no plans of delivering on; the same characteristic that seems to only be applied to guys in prison (because ONLY prisoners lie smh). But believe it or not, the population of guys I’ve seen in prison that wholeheartedly love their women, outweigh the ones who are simply passing the time by playing games. I guess the bad apples just get more spotlight, but us genuine guys actually do exist in here. My best advice is to just look for signs of sincerity, while he’s away AND when he comes home. You have to develop an eye for honesty. Forgive me if I’m wrong, but I assume this isn’t your first relationship, so just trust your instincts and pay attention to words AND actions because they go hand in hand. Address any uncertainty directly, and if you feel secure after the fact, proceed. If not, run for the hills. A man who truly cares for you will have no problem clearing up misunderstandings, or doing what’s needed to ease your mind. Nor will he be harsh with you when you do come to him with concerns. I’ll admit I have bad days in here, when despite being 6+ years in, the reality of this situation still hits me like a ton of bricks. But I never use thats as an excuse to lash out at my woman. She didn’t put me here, so there’s never a reason to treat her like she’s the enemy. Ever! Make sure you don’t mistake him having a “bad day” as him not caring (and vice versa). Remember, even when someone is purposely being deceptive, the mask they put up can only last for so long before true colors/intentions are revealed. #staywoke

I think its also important to clarify the difference between “jail talk” and a difficult re- entry into society(for those whose wait has come to an end). If your man comes home and he attempts to pursue a dream, and fails don’t instinctively jump on his back saying “oh I thought you were gonna do this or that,” continue to encourage him instead. If you have a stand-up guy, his main goal upon coming home will be to ensure that his family will never have to endure prison again. A stand-up guy is dead set on pulling his own weight and lightening your load significantly, if not entirely. But I will tell you this, many men go home with big plans of changing their lives for the better; for themselves and for their families. Whether it be a business venture, school, or just working a steady job to make clean money, they come out with great intentions. However, sometimes when they haven’t planned properly or don’t have access to the proper tools (because we all know correctional facilities provide everything BUT correction) these men fail, or fall short and become discouraged. This is the moment they need you most, to push them and cheer them on. Otherwise, they go right back to what’s easy, and that’s the worst decision, because its puts them right back on track to that revolving door. Remember, when you sign(ed) on to wait for him, that included the journey of his reentry, which has its own challenges, but isn’t impossible to conquer. Planning and patience on both parts are key.

Trust and believe in God. Be patient and assist in any way you can…. DON’T TAKE ON THE JOURNEY FOR HIM; LET HIM BE A MAN, BUT LEAD HIS CHEERING SECTION. Now if your man is talking crazy about getting back to the bag by way of the streets, then reevaluate your situation altogether and decide what you want based on that. Women are amazingly intelligent creatures and most times know what they want from their man. They also know when the man they’re with ain’t about shit, but they love him anyway and sometimes allow that love to blindfold them and taint their decision making. At the end of the day, you must do what’s best for you, so grab your big girl panties and follow your heart……or as my wife would put it “Follow your heart, but take your brain with you.”

I hope this helps someone on their journey. Love, in any setting or arrangement will never be “hard”. Yes there will be disagreements, yes there will be challenges but it should not be a warzone between you and your mate. Communicate often and honestly and be patient with each other. Love is growing as a unit, but still allowing your mate to grow as an individual. Its not always easy, but my guess is it’ll ALWAYS be worth it.

-Abdur Rauf Qayem