Prison pen pal or future husband?

Joey Garcia

I have been corresponding with a man for over a year and am certain that he is my soul mate. In our letters, we have discussed everything and we always agree. He writes me the most beautiful letters and truly appreciates who I am as a woman. “Paul” is out of state, but I want to meet him face-to-face because he has indicated that he would like to marry me. I probably should mention that he is in prison and will be out in two years. He says he is not guilty and I believe him. I have never felt so appreciated by any man. Actually, I have always found it difficult to meet quality men. Do you have any suggestions for our first meeting? My hopes are so high, I’m afraid it will be hard.

I was so caught up in the romance of your story that I was ready to help you engrave wedding invitations until I read that the man you call your soul mate is in prison. Let’s make this simple: There are men and women who are falsely accused and incarcerated, but they are a minuscule percentage of people behind bars. Most are guilty. Many of the guilty were able to commit their crimes because of their ability to convincingly say whatever their target needed to hear.

Some of the people who serve their time will turn away from crime and toward a life of peaceful co-existence with the rest of us. Others will try that new direction, fail, and return to crime. The rest won’t change. The only way to know which path your paramour plans to follow is to have patience. Lots of patience. Give yourself a minimum of five years before agreeing to marry this man. When he is released from prison, do not invite him to move in with you. Give him time to learn to be on his own again. Do not loan him money. Let him secure a job and an apartment and notice his choices. Are the people he hangs with the kind of friends you want around your home? Is he a responsible employee with behavior that assures you he will respect his financial role in a marriage partnership?

Through his letters you’ve known this man as a lover of sorts and somewhat as a friend. A marriage also requires that couples serve as companions (sharing recreational activities) and partners (able to share management of the financial and business aspects of running a household). Your first meeting should just be a step in developing your friendship so that you can gradually learn whether it is worthwhile to join in marriage and become lovers, partners and life-long companions.

One last thing. My friends and relatives in law enforcement say that criminals always insist they’re innocent. The best way for you to learn the truth is to investigate his past yourself.

What does “emotionally dependent” really mean?

It means the mind is stuck on a belief that results in obsessive neediness. The real problem, though, is an inability to distinguish between needs and preferences. By contrast, a healthy mind is emotionally interdependent. It is supple enough to be open and accepting of new ideas, values and beliefs and independent enough to think in ways that are not frequently or easily embraced by the wider, popular culture. Most people try to mend their emotional dependency by attempting to trim emotions or change others, but it doesn’t work. Thoughts produce emotions, so what’s really needed is an overhaul in some part of the thinker’s belief system.

Meditation of the week
At Chaa Creek Cottages in Belize, I unexpectedly dined with a 60-year-old pilot and asked him my standard question for strangers: “What advice can you give me about money?” He said, “Never pay interest on something that depreciates.” Can this also apply to suffering?

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