Prison isn’t a sideshow. There are real people trying to keep their relationships alive across the boundaries of prison walls. And though women are often judged and belittled when they stand beside their men in prison, the partnerships that survive can benefit enormously from the hard work and sheer determination that goes into sustaining them.

1. Patience

A woman with a partner in prison knows a thing or two about patience. She must wait patiently throughout the duration of her partner’s sentence and deal with a new set of challenges upon his release.

Restarting a relationship and coping with the inevitable adjustments often requires even more patience than waiting for a prison term to end. But learning to face hardship with determination will pay off tenfold when the time comes to enjoy that hard-earned relationship.

2. Loyalty

A prison wife or girlfriend’s loyalty is constantly put to the test. Finding a way to be patient with her partner isn’t the only challenge she encounters; she must also withstand judgment from friends and family.

Loyalty is a powerful facet of any relationship. When the worst times are in the past, you can stand back and admire how strong your relationship is because of the loyalty you’ve offered.

3. Forgiveness

It’s tempting to hold a grudge when you’re hurting, but it’ll only make you miserable. Bottling up that negativity can actually inflict more pain than the initial hurt did. When you choose to forgive, the sense of relief is enormous.

Starting a relationship anew after prison is challenging to both partners’ self-esteem, but if they have the will to stay together, forgiveness can be a wonderful healer.

4. Hope
Real-life prison wives have the rare ability to find hope when they feel hopeless. Whether it’s by writing letters every day, insisting on phone calls, or reminding their partners of the love that still exists, the hope these women display is energizing and provides the optimism a relationship needs to triumph over separation.

We can all agree these traits become accustomed to us and we adapt. The rewards are massive but the pain can be very deep. It takes a strong man to realize the depth of what his woman endures for him, and an even stronger woman to endure this life and all that it commands.

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