The Coffield Unit Con Man & The Runaway Bride That Gave Him The Boot…

For the past six weeks or so, I’ve been talking to Anne regarding a Prison wedding ceremony at Texas Department Of Criminal Justice Coffield Unit in Tennessee Colony. 

Anne is really funny and I enjoy our discussions talking about each other’s family and sending photos of our children and grandchildren. I feel like I’ve known her for years. 

Many of my clients become lifelong friends and Anne has a special place in my heart because we both have had a run in with a violent husband for me and ex boyfriend for her. Any woman that has been in a violent relationship has trust issues and Anne does too.

The Lock Down in Tennessee Colony put a hold on Prison Weddings and also, apparently gave Anne time to think about her decision to marry an inmate and over the last few weeks, question her decision. 

Anne is my very first Runaway Bride and although we won’t be meeting each other at the Coffield Prison, we plan to meet each other at Six Flags with our kids and grandkids this summer.It’s pretty well known that I have lengthy discussions with anyone choosing to marry a Prisoner. Why? Because I’m a mother myself and know that many Prison Marriages are dramatically “one sided.”

I don’t understand why anyone chooses to marry a Prisoner but, when I was asked by Misty to Officiate her marriage at TDCJ Estes Unit, learned that many are planning for their future and not the present. 

Some wonder why I rebranded and expanded to include Prison Weddings but, the truth is my decision was based on the numbers of others contacting me for help. 

It was a supply and demand type of decision that even today, surprises my husband. Why? I’m claustrophobic. 

Overcoming my own fear of being locked into a Prison wasn’t easy for me but, I faced my fears head on and have officiated weddings in prisons not only in Texas but also in other states. 

Walking into a Prison takes my breath away. The chill of a Prison is unlike any other location I’ve ever officiated a wedding ceremony at. A Prison versus the “outside world” for an Event Location is something no one ever really gets used to.

Although my Brides and Grooms are thrilled to be marrying the love love of their lives and not surprisingly, they are thrilled.

Reverend Wendy Wortham TDCJ James Allred Unit
Reverend Wendy Wortham TDCJ Estes Unit

Prison Marriage isn’t for everybody. What do I mean by that? The person on the outside is sending money for commissary and paying outrageous phone calls. 

How outrageous? Often to even put money on the phone, it’s $7.00 simply to add money to the account. 

Unit phone calls are easily $2.00 a minute and since many inmates have nothing better to do all day, they call the person on the outside and run up expenses.Nobody goes into a marriage planning a divorce but statistics on Prison Marriage are somewhat dim. Pulling the wagon isn’t easy or inexpensive for Prison Brides or Grooms on the outside. 

I recently spoke to a man in another state who readily admitted that he was planning to marry a Bride that was 30 plus years younger than him. 

Not surprisingly, I questioned him about living in another state and marrying someone incarcerated in Texas. 

Most Prison Brides or Grooms live a few hours from their incarcerated spouses but, several states? An age gap so wide that he could be her father? 

I asked a few more questions and found that before her incarceration, the Bride To Be had lived with her fiancé so they are not Pen Pals. 

For some reason, many people assume that all of my Prison Brides or Grooms are Pen Pals. They aren’t.I’ve yet to marry anyone who didn’t know the inmate long before incarceration and I’ve performed more Prison and Jail Weddings than I can count. 

Even Anne knew her fiancé prior to incarceration and after a few phone calls demanding to know how she was spending her money and where? 

Anne knew that someone trying to control her from behind bars would be even more controlling after he was released and living with her in her home. This information concerned me as well. I don’t like controlling people. 

I would rather be alone than with someone who attempts to control me. Frankly, I had a ten year marriage of my odometer being regularly checked and my gasoline also questioned. If I drove to my sisters house without permission, a fight ensued. 

I married young and although I was never unfaithful to my husband, his wild jealousy started plenty of fights. He was also jealous of my twin sister and I wasn’t allowed to talk to her when he was home. 

I worked but my money was deposited into an account that he controlled. My credit cards were also controlled which is why it took me ten years to save up enough money to leave. 

How did I do it? Writing checks for ten dollars more at the grocery store. Yes. I had to be that careful to have a few dollars for Mc Donald’s for my son and put the left over change into an old boot in my closet. Planning my escape took years. 

I knew that if the Prisoner was trying to control the money from behind bars, Anne was right about cutting him lose before the wedding rather than trying to work it out after marrying. Divorce is expensive and, you can’t find Mr Right if you are married to Mr Wrong. 

Divorce is far harder than marrying and also far more painful and expensive. 

Anyone who has been through a divorce carries the scars. Anyone who has been through a divorce from a controlling person with a violent temper has difficulty ever trusting again. I did. 

By the time I met my current husband, Matthew, I had long decided that no one would ever control my money or my car again. 

In my mind, controlling my money or car was controlling my ability to run if necessary and therefore, controlling my freedom. 

Prior to marrying Matthew, I laid out my terms. Separate checking accounts, separate credit cards, my vehicle in my name only and although I’m sure he was confused by my list of Rules, I explained my reasons. 

We had met at the Cadillac dealership I was working at because my ex husband had sold my car to keep me from leaving him. I took the job in order to get a free demo car, gas, insurance and a paycheck. 

I made up my mind that no one would ever control my car or money again in this lifetime and even today, all of these years later, my SUV is in my name, my credit cards are in my name and I have my own checking, savings and safety deposit box. 

My husband and I share two accounts but, I continue to keep my own account separately. For Matthew, he knew the only way I would ever marry again was on my own terms and, he accepted them. 

A few years ago at a Christmas Party, someone was talking to us about changing banks and my husband said “Wendy keeps an account at Frost and has since long before we married. We share accounts at two other banks.” The friend asked why I had kept a separate account? My husband answered “if you keep a bird in a cage, one day you will forget to close the door and the bird will fly away. Wendy doesn’t fly away because she isn’t afraid of being locked in a cage.” He was right. 

Anne and I have had several discussions and last week, she disclosed that she had told her fiancée she didn’t want to marry him anymore. This was a pretty cut and dry decision and I had asked if she was sure that this marriage was what she wanted or, not. 

At the time, Anne had says she was joking but, I knew that “every joke contains a certain amount of truth.” I wasn’t surprised that Anne eventually decided to put her own needs first. It’s essential to your own well being.

This morning Anne told me that God had instructed her that marrying her fiancé in Prison was a bad decision. I’m a strong follower of not only Faith but also my heart. If I don’t feel good about a decision, I either wait to make it or choose to skip whatever it might be. I agreed with Anne after listening to her reasons for changing her mind about marrying a Texas Inmate.

Speaking with Anne for several minutes, it became apparent to me that the inmate was attempting to control her money “from the inside.” 

Since Anne makes her own money and pays her own bills, the inmate in question who wanted more, more, more and planned to control Anne’s money was given the boot.

Conning a woman on the outside isn’t as far fetched as it sounds. Prisoners regularly benefit from the generosity of the person sending them money and, paying for their phone calls as well as driving long distances to the prison for visits. Marrying a Prisoner isn’t an easy marriage. It’s difficult, it’s lonely and it’s expensive.

Anne and I decided that she made a good choice by putting herself and her family first. Sometimes love isn’t enough. Anne had been pulling the wagon too long in this relationship and after a few demanding phone calls for more money- saw the red flags. The Stop, Look & Listen flags that is.

Looks like the Coffield Unit Con Man will have to find someone else to Con into putting money on his books and paying for his expensive phone calls. 

Marriage is a partnership and occasionally, someone wants to make the marriage a sole proprietorship rather than helping to pull the wagon. 

Anne will one day find her Prince Charming and, when she does, she plans to hire my team to Officiate the wedding she was worthy of having with the person worthy of sharing her life.

Cindy and I have a jam packed weekend ahead of us kicking off on Friday with our wonderful friends rehearsal. Luckily, we have time to join them at the rehearsal dinner Friday. I’m really looking forward to this one and seeing all of my friends from the LBGT community.

I thought about calling my brother yesterday since he’s mad at me for asking him to call our mother if he wanted to. After considering an argument over the mother we all have issues with, I decided to skip it. 

My brother is opinionated and we can agree to disagree. It’s not the first time he’s been upset at me and it isn’t the first time that I’ve been upset with him since a few of my readers read the blog about Sibling Rivalry and reached out to me sharing similar stories. 

I called the Chaplain at TDCJ Coffield Unit to cancel the Wedding. There isn’t anything worse than not advising TDCJ Personnel immediately in order to save them from scheduling a wedding that isn’t going to happen except of course, having a Bride show up in inappropriate attire or, drunk.

I’ve continued to discuss this issue with all of my clients because as my client, you should be aware that a Prison Wedding isn’t the place to “let it all hang out.” 

Being respectful to TDCJ and following the rules will make your wedding day (although not ideal) far more pleasant for you and me. 

I found several hilarious wedding gift ideas on the internet and, bought these socks for a Groom who seemed to be having second thoughts. 

Needless to say, he loved them and admitted that he was apprehensive about having his parents at the wedding after never expecting them to attend. It isn’t the wedding that worries him but, instead how his parents will act.

Since all of my dedicated readers are aware of my feelings regarding Inlaws or Outlaws who don’t want to attend your wedding coming anyway, it should be noted that the Groom didn’t invite his parents. They invited themselves.

Several months ago, I wrote a blog regarding an LBGT couple explaining how uncomfortable their families would be if I instructed them to kiss following the ceremony. Who ever heard of a wedding without a kiss “sealing the deal?”

Shocked that anyone would attempt to make my wedding ceremony about themselves rather than the couple, I instructed the couple to tell their families that if they were so uncomfortable about seeing an LBGT couple kissing at their wedding to stay home. I meant it. 

Needless to say, their family did attend and didn’t say a word when I instructed the couple to kiss either. In fact, the family members uncomfortable about the kissing aspect happily posed in all of the wedding photos.

I’m hoping there isn’t any drama at the wedding Sunday with Outlaws attempting to object or causing a scene but, I don’t offer objections and I also don’t allow anyone (guest or family member) to ruin the light of love shining on my couples at their wedding…