Latoya and Cornelius Marion
Tampa, Florida - Latoya Marion's face lights up when she talks about her husband. The broad, winning smile says it all. It's easy to see she's in love.
"He's my Man of God, that's what I call him," she says with a wide grin, then breaks into giggles.
The 33-year-old is like any other wife. She blushes when she mentions her husband's name. She talks about how much she loves to hug and kiss him. She even jokes about how he reminds her to eat healthy.
There's one big difference with this couple. They've never lived under the same roof, and they're never had sex.
Cornelius Marion is an inmate at the Polk Correctional Institute in Polk City. He's been there for nearly 21 years, convicted of armed robbery, and according to a judge, Cornelius will spend the rest of his life behind bars.
Latoya's smile fades when she talks about the tough times. "Sometimes you cry, sometimes you're jealous of other people, that they have their spouses there, but you have to stay focused."
That's exactly what this wife has done. She is so focused that she is now being featured on a reality television series called, "Prison Wives" on the Investigation Discovery Channel.
The prison wife says the network is paying her a small salary of less than $1,000 for her participation in the show, in addition to gas and meal money.
In the new reality series, Latoya and others are telling their stories, opening their homes and visiting prisons all over the country to show just how a marriage behind bars works.
And, it's not easy. We asked Latoya directly, "What's the common mistake people make about prison wives?"
Her answer was simple, "That we're crazy. That we're crazy desperate people. We're not."
Latoya was attending Santa Fe Community College in Gainesville when she was talking with a friend about meeting a young man.
"Can you set me up with someone?" she asked.
The woman replied, "I have two cousins. One has brown eyes, the other has blue eyes."
Latoya liked the first option. But, she didn't like the answer when she heard it.
The friend told the young woman, just 19-years-old at the time, "Okay, but he comes with a condition. He's in prison."
Latoya let out a loud sigh, but thought, why not? She decided to simply start a friendship and encourage a young man behind bars
"I didn't think that 14 years later, we'd still be married. I thought he was joking when he asked me to marry him a month later. I fell in love," Latoya said.
Here's the tricky part. No sex.
Latoya has never consummated her relationship with her 39-year-old husband. She laughs it off and looks forward to what she affectionately calls "the day."
With a cackle of laughter and a huge smile, she describes her "situation."
"We sneak kisses and hugs, that's the enticing part of it. I was burning, screaming hollering crying, you know... take a cold shower. My husband told me, 'Go cheat.' My husband said, 'Go cheat, just don't fall in love with him.' "
This is not a cheating woman. In fact, Latoya says it's her faith in God that has gotten her through. That, and her faith in her husband, keeps her going.
She says he continually tells her, "God will take care of it."
"Here he is in prison telling me that God will take care of things. He doesn't worry. He is a natural leader. Everyone loves him and they follow him. He breaks up fights and is a good man," Latoya tells us.
As the Investigation Discovery cameras follow her around, from her job as a substitute teacher and a counselor with foster children, Latoya continues fighting for her husband's case.
She's so familiar with the court cases, law books and prison system that other inmates seek her out in jail.
"My husband gets jealous," she says. "He doesn't want them to use me."
When she's not working, Latoya spends her time in law libraries and at the courthouse. She wants to be armed with as much information as possible.
So, what about life behind bars? What does this prison wife think about it?
This garners a hearty laugh.
"It's a soap opera," she bellowed. "Oh my God, you wouldn't believe what life is like in the prison! From correctional officers, to inmates, it's a soap opera! You could make a soap opera."
As the discussion turns serious, Latoya begins to cry. She talks about a moment Tuesday afternoon when her young cousin called her on the phone, praising all the work she's done in the past 14 years on behalf of Cornelius.
Latoya burst into tears.
"Faith, you don't see anything, you just know. Faith is dark, and people don't know that. You can't see the outcome."
She continued, "I've missed so much over the years with my family. But, this has made it all worth it. This is for him."
She was touched that her cousin noticed the lifetime of work and love. In the countless documents she carries around, Latoya has found proof, she says, that her husband was not even there the night the robbery took place.
She also tells us that according to the police report, the suspect in the armed robbery was five feet six inches tall.
Her husband is six feet three inches tall.
Cornelius Marion has another court appearance on March 16 at an evidence hearing.
Chat with local wives about the prison wives.
Click here to learn more about the "Prison Wives" series on Investigation Discovery.
Melanie Brooks, 10 Connects