When a person receives a prison sentence, this does not only impact the inmate but also has an effect on those around them. One’s partner is left to cope with the reality of it all. This includes finding oneself alone in life with restricted access to their partner while also facing the stigma that arises from the general public. Additionally, if the couple has children, the partner finds oneself dealing with children and their reactions while financial burden suddenly falls on them (Prior, 2021). This experience usually leads to anger, frustration, feelings of loss and mourning as well as guilt and shame (Trudi Griffin, 2020). 

            One’s partner’s arrest might be shocking and a number of uncertainties might arise such as whether or not one is guilty. The nature of the sentence also effects one’s partner, for instance whether one is sentenced due to fraud or rape has a different impact on one’s loved one. This is because the latter is most likely to evoke feelings of betrayal (Prior, 2021). In view of all of the sudden changes one needs to adapt to a ‘new’ life. 

  1. Mourning – one of the common feelings in such cases is the feeling of loss as one questions whether one really knew their partner. Thus it is important to give oneself time to grieve and accept what has happened (Prior, 2021). 
  2. Losing friends – unfortunately, during this time one will become aware that some friends will disappear upon receiving the news, despite thinking that they are true friends. Nevertheless, keep in mind that there will be others who will understand and will be ready to be supportive (Prior, 2021).
  3. Loneliness – the sudden change from sharing one’s life with someone to suddenly being completely independent could be quite lonely. The person finds oneself having to attend life events by oneself. Thus, having a support system made up of friends and family can be beneficial for one to share time and experience less feelings of loneliness. 
  4. Dealing with everyday life – apart from feeling lonely, everyday chores and errands suddenly depend on one person rather than being shared. Therefore, one might consider prioritizing tasks in order to ensure that the important things are done. Moreover this can help one to avoid feeling overwhelmed (Prior, 2021). 
  5. Know your facts – it is important to contact adequate personnel in order to ensure that things are in order. This would enable one to look into the practical things such as weather one’s assets are safe or whether they are any precautions that need to be taken (Prior, 2021). 
  6. Taking care of oneself – during this time it is essential to stay true to oneself. Activities that make oneself happy should be encouraged. Moreover, one might also consider whether one’s partner is suitable for oneself. This decision however should not be taken lightly and one needs to consider all aspects prior to making a final decision (Prior, 2021). 

            One might consider seeking professional help in order to cope with the situation and in this instance the individual’s feelings and difficulties are addressed. This enabled the person to share thoughts and opinions without being judged and hence might provide a feeling of safety (Prior, 2021). 

If you think that you can benefit from professional support on this issue you can reach out here.

Yasmine Bonnici graduated in Nursing and also completed her Masters in Counselling. She has worked with victims of domestic violence, clients dealing with suicidal ideations, bereavement, separation and anxieties. She is currently working with Willingness Team as a counsellor seeing clients who would like to explore their own identity and deal with any surfacing issues.


Prior, A. (2021, June 26). How to cope when your partner’s in jail and you’re depressed. Retrieved September 10, 2021, from https://www.professional-counselling.com/partner-in-prison.html

Trudi Griffin, L. (2020, July 17). How to cope with a spouse’s incarceration. Retrieved September 10, 2021, from https://www.wikihow.com/Cope-with-a-Spouse%27s-Incarceration