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  #1  
Old 03-15-2011, 10:34 AM
allmb allmb is offline
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Default Sharing life's lessons- Life skills our loved ones might lack.

Looking forward towards the day my wife comes home there is one challenge that stands out amongst the rest. Should I get her a walker or a wheelchair for the morning after? Okay, just kidding…sort of…

Anywho, and more seriously, I do many things for my wife because she is not able to do them for herself from prison. After 23 years and her entire adult life, as well as a portion of her childhood in prison, I expect that I will be doing many things for her when she first arrives home as well as she borders on being overwhelmed with such adjustments as darkness at night, no walls, so many people, etc.

She’s never been responsible for her own bills for instance. Things like paying the rent and buying groceries are going to be new. More importantly, determining what discretionary income is and what is necessary to save, not just for regular expenses, but for those irregular expenses like, “Oops, need new tires for the car” or “Damn, the pipes burst, got to call a plumber.”

While I’ve no doubt that she can figure this stuff out and that her learning curve will be much steeper than mine as I went through my late teens and my twenties, the question that I have is…hmm, this is hard even to find a way to phrase this. Where does my responsibility to my family’s financial health stop and her right to learn her own lessons and figure this out for herself begin?

If, for instance, the rent is not paid yet, I know it will be a bad idea to take her past a shoe sale during her first steps in freedom. She’s going to go overboard. I went overboard as I was figuring life out here and doing so was a right of passage. I’m not looking to protect her from life’s lessons but at the same time, not only do I feel some responsibility to protect my family, it was also a difficult time in life and personally, I don’t have a great desire to re-live those lessons again. I certainly will do so for her, but I am not looking forward to it and I’m not sure how to balance that.

Too, assuming that I can find a balance, that balance is likely to shift rapidly. Because she is not a child any longer, it won’t take her as long to figure it out as it took me and so, the balance point is likely to shift rapidly. As soon as I figure out where the balancing point is, it’s likely to shift.

We’ve talked about it and will continue to talk about it as her homecoming draws nearer as well as after she comes home, but I’ve no illusions that it’s going to be easy. Fact is, she trusts me implicitly, and so she won’t fight me for the reins as I’ve described in another post recently, but that doesn’t make it easier. In fact, it makes it harder. I’ve got to figure out when to let her fall and learn lessons on her own and letting someone you love stumble is never easy.

Just food for thought and I thought I’d share cause I’m full.
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  #2  
Old 03-15-2011, 10:54 AM
yardygurl yardygurl is offline
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While I agree with you about letting your wife learn life's lessons you need to teach her slowly and allow her to integrate back into society because if she feels overwhelmed she might revert back to what she's learned in prison and that will prove difficult in your marriage. Eventually she will get the hang of it and all your worries will be futile. I wish you and your wife all the best in the world and God bless you both.
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Old 03-15-2011, 11:11 AM
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Great post.

I recently read somewhere about playing financial management games with your loved one in prison. (So wish I could recall where now.) The idea was to make a list of monthly bills a couple may pay. (credit cards, house, car, cable, electric, food, gas, etc) Then set a dollar amount under the amount of the bills. Say, your bills are $3,500 and you only made $2,500 this month. Each person would prioritize what they would pay in which order and why.

For example, you throw in your budget car tires. You may prioritize it over the electric bill, because you realize you need the car to get to work and can make payment arrangements on the electric bill. She might be thinking the electric will get cut off and go for the electric bill, thinking you can ride the bus. It's just an idea to play out different financial ideas and discuss how you both would like to handle them as a couple.
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Old 03-15-2011, 05:26 PM
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Great questions! Aka had some great advice which is to find out what her priorities would be if you were in the situation where you had to choose which bills to pay. I'm sure you guys have talked about finances and I don't know if you guys are on the same page or not, but playing out different scenarios would be a good way to find out what she's thinking. You do have to give them room to figure this out on their own, make their mistakes...as far as where that middle ground is though, I think it probably depends on what your financial situation is to begin with. If you don't have much money on hand and no discretionary income, there isn't much room for big mistakes.
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Old 03-15-2011, 09:14 PM
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Geauxin'KraZee Geauxin'KraZee is offline
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This is a good post with good questions . The way things are being handled right now between my man and I and throughout the whole bid is that when I'm paying bills, I include him. In fact today, I went on the road to pay utility bills. I don't like paying bills online , I still like the old fashioned way. Get on the damn road and go pay them. When he called a little while ago, I told him which bills "we" paid and how much they were. He asked me if "we" monitor the meter for the electricity and I told him ,"yes, we do"! This way he feels a PART OF instead of APART FROM . It really helps because he's in the loop this way and it make him feel like his input is important to me and it is ! I realize you've been doing this far longer than I, but I'm just trying to share with you what works for us and maybe give you another way to prepare your wife for her new freedom. I wish you all the best and I must say, it's so very nice to see a gentleman stand by his wife the way you have. I really admire you and enjoy reading your threads and posts.

As far as what to use a walker or a wheelchair ? Hmmmmm I'm thinking I better go get me some crutches because my man will be home in four days !!
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Old 03-16-2011, 07:12 AM
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Angel, as you know my Lifer was released December 7th after 37 years of incarceration. Although your concerns are genuine, if your experience is near what the past 3 months have been for me, I believe you will be pleasantly surprised.

I must admit that I had read, and reread many of the threads / posts here on PTO in the Now That Your Loved One Is Home forum prior to his release and frankly there are none parallel to our situation simply because he was Life. There is a LIFE of dissimilarities between short time, long term and those faced with Life at the end of their sentence. Please, I am not bashing anyone with less time, my son is gone for 2 years as we speak and the heartache is no less.

Having grown up in prison, matured from a boy to a man, there are issues of accountability but not in the area of finances. Just the opposite. For the first month or so he ‘had to have’….but everyone around him already had…..and he had nothing; clothing, cell phone and computer to name a few. I would advise you to start saving now, if you have not already. Clothing an adult is as costly, if not more expensive than a new born. (At least family and friends throw a shower…..mmmm….maybe there is something there) Beyond the initial expenditures for necessities he has managed the monthly pittance he receives, on his own. I was not prepared for his fiscal responsibility; he balances his checkbook to the penny; where as I do not worry about a dollar or two difference.

He manages the ‘mechanics’ of life with repetition, but it is the logistics that are difficult. Managing time; he never has enough time to complete a task; he is over whelmed because he is easily distracted. His interpretation and reasoning skills are perverted; right now he would be a good mark for a con-artist. Truly, I thought after 37 years of not trusting he would be guarded…..but this is the 18 year old mentality coming into play. Difficult to explain but not having had to do the hard work he is always looking for the easy way out; hours and hours of wasted time and energy spent on trying to beat the system rather than just doing it. He is disoriented; and this is so bad that repetition does not correct the problem, but GPS has. Yes, if he left home he could not get there with directions, and once there could not reverse the path to get home. He has driven by himself (it wasn’t so bad on public transportation) to the PO’s office once a week for 2 months and CANNOT get there and back without the kindly Garmin Lady directing him to turn RIGHT HERE. With that said he also loses everything. He is constantly complaining, but it was just in my hand!!!!!! Well yeah maybe 3 minutes ago before you set it down. I ask him is ‘Your Too Much Space Issue’ working against you again. Makes sense to me 37 years in a tiny cell, having to keep every item organized so it looks like less property, and now well there are all sorts of surfaces and hiding spots.

I could go on and on and on…….I supposed what I am trying to tell you; do not anticipate anything. It is okay to have expectations, but do not be dismayed when she handles the complexities with class and grace but does not know how to use the washing machine.

OH and one other thing. Many here said their loved one's were intimidated to the point they would sit with their back to the wall, or avoid busy area's; crowds. BULL SHIT in his case. He thrives on the noise and I am yet to see him sit where he is not in the thick of it.
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Last edited by nypurple; 03-16-2011 at 07:29 AM..
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  #7  
Old 03-17-2011, 06:56 PM
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Temeron0926 Temeron0926 is offline
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Good thread as usual!

Like your wife, my Ray has not really ever had to be responsible for paying bills, managing money, or being responsible for much of anything. He has spent the vast majority of his adult life in prison, he has never lived alone, has never had to "budget" his money, never had to decide if he should pay the power bill or buy that new coat he wants. At our age (we will be 51 when he ie released) it is high time he learns these things. Will it be easy? Hell no. Will it be challenging? Oh yea.

We have talked about this a lot, and will talk about it many more times in the next 2+ years, until we have worked out what we believe is a viable plan to begin with. Then, as you say, the balancing point will change. As a start, we are having seperate checking accounts. If he is going to make mistakes, and he will, he is NOT going to mess up my account while he is learning. This was HIS idea, and after some discussion, I agreed. I think we have worked out some ideas to start, and the rest will have to be on an "as needed" basis. Having to teach him how to balance a checkbook, pay the bills, and keep his head above water is not going to be easy, but it is going to be necessary. He is a very intelligent guy, he will learn fast and that will help, but yes, it will be aggravating, frustrating and interesting to say the least.
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