If you are currently or have ever been in a relationship, I would bet money you have at some point had a disagreement with your significant other. Usually these disagreements can be pretty benign and are laughed off at some point when things cool down. When you are dating, the argument might be over which movie to go see or some improper communication with the ex girlfriend. Sometimes disagreements form into arguments, major confrontations that can pit the two of you in a virtual battle of wills. How you two handle arguments and more importantly, reach resolution after the augment is finished is very important in determining how your next argument will go. If one of our goals is harmony with our significant other, logic says we would try to avoid arguing altogether and handle every disagreement with tact, calm understanding and compromise. Try anyway.
When you get married, you might assume that changes how we get along. Since you spent money on that ring, she should know you love her and have her best intentions at the heart of everything you do, right? In case you don’t know by now, marriage doesn’t mean you get to stop trying. Actually, I think I have to try harder in some ways than when my wife and I were dating. Not that I feel like I am working on my marriage every day without success, but you do have to work at it. Arguments with a spouse, especially one you have known for a long time carry a certain amount of baggage. You know which buttons to push and so do they. One difference should be that as you two mature together these happen less frequently and are reserved not for petty issues, but large subjects. Prepping for the end of the world as we know it can be a very big subject and a source for many disagreements in a marriage.
Many people have written in the comments or emailed me questions about the best ways to convince someone about prepping or how to get their wife on board with their prepping efforts. Some have given up trying altogether and have begun prepping in secret to avoid confrontation all-together. Preppers need all of the help we can get and most often the reason we are prepping in the first place is to take care of our family or loved ones. Ripping that family apart defeats one goal of prepping and it is something that you can do your part to avoid. Is your prepping causing divorce in your home? I am not a marriage counselor but I can share my experiences and hopefully offer some advice to any of you who are struggling with a spouse who might not see eye to eye with you on this subject.
Why you would be foolish to go it alone
I will assume for the sake of this article that everyone reading this is in a relationship they want to continue to be in. I don’t think many people start out in marriage with the goal of divorce. Of course, I can see this happening in Hollywood, but most people who are in love enough to make that commitment want it to work out in the beginning anyway. I will also assume for this topic that the issue causing conflict is your prepping. I can’t begin to address any other of the thousands of possible reasons for conflict in a marriage, but hopefully this can help in some way in this limited example.
Two are better than one. This is a verse from the Bible in Ecclesiastes but it makes sense in a way that anyone can understand. Our spouse should be the perfect partner for us. They know us better than anyone and if you have children, there is a bond that is very special. We want our spouse to believe in us, to trust us and to follow us wherever we may go. The idea of prepping can be very alienating to some people though and when you start getting deep into subjects, spending money on prepping supplies and making plans for death and destruction, sometimes our spouses throw their hands up in protest. They can’t see the risks you see. They don’t find the same value in your stockpile of food that you do and they may actively work to thwart your prepping plans. This can create conflict when what you really need is an agreement so you can both work together as an effective team.
Think strategically before you approach your spouse
I think the biggest problem preppers might see with getting a spouse on board with prepping could be of their own creation. If you are getting push-back from your spouse it may have everything to do with how the subject came up in the first place or how you talk about it right now.
I have shared my own story several times of how I first started to get into prepping largely on my own away from my family. I read tons of survival blogs, watched YouTube videos, read great survival books and all the while I was making plans without letting my wife know. I had lists of things that I was concerned about and the items I would need to keep us safe from the events or situations on my list.
This went on for a good while until one night as we were getting ready for bed; I basically dumped all of my prepper paranoia in my wife’s lap. I started telling her all of the things I wanted to acquire for all of the situations I was worried about. My wife, naturally caught off guard and surprised by my intensity looked at me like I was crazy. She probably even thought I was and quickly tried to shut me down by saying I was over reacting.
We talked again the next day and instead of listening to my concerns, she asked for proof. Instead of agreeing with the items I felt we needed to purchase, she started listing off every other thing we needed to spend money on. Instead of “joining the team” she started to push back at my insistence we get prepared and I started to resent the fact that she wasn’t willingly going along with everything I said.
In retrospect I should have known better. My wife is very intelligent and has a great strategic mind. She does not believe everything she hears and prefers to dig deeper herself and research topics to verify if they pass the smell test in her mind. If I could do it all over again, I would have approached her differently, certainly not at bedtime. I wouldn’t have dumped all of my prepper angst in her lap at one time; I would have eased into it. Actually, that is what I had to do eventually anyway.
Time to change tactics
If you are arguing with your spouse over prepping, you need to stop for a minute and listen to what they are saying. Are there aspects of your prepping they disagree with or have problems with? Is there a common theme to their resistance? Do you want them to stay forever or are you expecting them to walk out the door one day?
Over the years, I have heard from people some version of the following arguments against prepping.
Prepping costs too much money – If you are only looking at lists of prepping gear, the lifestyle of prepping can cost a lot of money, but you can be smart with purchases. Spouses react when they see large purchases of things they don’t find value in like an arsenal of survival weapons, underground bunkers and bulletproof vests. When they are forced to move their shoe collection to store a lot of freeze-dried food, things can get ugly.
Try this: Realize the very real possibility that your prepping priorities are not lining up with your finances. Before making large purchases you need to have the agreement of your spouse. No matter what your money situation is, things are better when you two are on the same boat. Make a list of every item you think is necessary first and prioritize it. When you have some extra money, and your spouse’s support or at least agreement, then pull the trigger.
Nothing will ever happen – Many people simply fail to understand how bad things happen all of the time and this could be caused by your focus on a single unlikely event. I know some people who were convinced the Mayan calendar would shift the earth’s magnetic poles and we would be living where China is now. When you use Zombies as your stated motivation for prepping, it is easy to see how a spouse would think you are off your rocker.
Try this: Choosing a single event is not only short-sighted, but it limits you. Focus on the risks to survival no matter the cause. You can die just as easily from a burglar as you can from a massive earthquake or giant tsunami. Focus with your spouse on threats from a wide spectrum. Instead of saying we need this in case of X, try asking questions from events in the news. The latest floods in Japan, the wildfires in California are just two easy scenarios to ask about instead of pushing your stated fear to the forefront.
The government will take care of us – I don’t know who would still believe this now after Katrina but there are still some who will blindly believe that law enforcement will be there, the fire trucks will roll and FEMA will show up with warm tents a blanket and juice box. Time and time again, it has been demonstrated that a big government doesn’t deal well with individuals.
Try this: If your spouse believes that we only need to rely on the authorities to come save us, ask them about the people during hurricane Sandy that went to the FEMA office and found it closed due to bad weather. Look at the hundreds of thousands of migrants flooding into Europe right now and how Governments who were welcoming them with open arms are now closing borders.
If the world ends I would rather die anyway – This is one of the excuses I really hate to hear because for me, Prepping is a motivation for people who want to survive. We prepare for bad times so that we don’t die. We have supplies and training to survive bad things happening but some people look at the potential world out of a post-apocalyptic disaster movie and are scared to imagine their lives in that reality. Some believe that death is simply better than a life down here and while I believe in Heaven and look forward to seeing it one day, I am going to live as well as I can while I can.
Try this: I found that bringing family or loved ones into the picture can help so that the focus is not on them dying because they give up. Give them a motivation to live and explain how you would be lost without them. The children would miss them, etc. Everyone should have hope and even though there are some who would give up, they on the other hand have the strength to make it through anything because you have seen them do it time and time again. Give them some examples.
What do you think you can do to stop anything? – One of the futures I can see is a tyranny that marches over our country. I don’t know what shape or form this will take but believe right now that I would do anything in my power to fight against that tyranny, however futile that effort may be. Some people take the example of the military rolling down the street and say “Do you think you could beat a tank”?
Try this: Naturally you can’t beat a tank or a larger invading force by yourself but you can make plans to live. If society descends into that type of darkness, I doubt any of us will just be sitting inside watching TV while tanks roll down the street blowing you up. You can make plans to flee from a situation like that by having bug out bags for the entire family, several routes out of town to alternate locations and supplies to live buried along the way if you have to run. Resistance doesn’t always have to end in a Butch and Sundance last stand and maybe letting them know that you have plans to keep them safe will help them past this point.
Walking back from the ledge
People get divorced every day but your prepping habits shouldn’t be the cause of divorce in your life. You can help your spouse see the value in prepping by speaking to them in ways that capture their attention, that cater to how they see the world and prioritize their needs first. It’s your job to show them the importance of prepping and move at a speed they can get on board with. This may take more time than you want, but it is better to have a loving supportive spouse and one week of food than to have an underground bunker and be alone at the end of the world.
The last thing I would like to add is that prepping is a long time effort. Yes, there is an increased urgency now for some but you shouldn’t sacrifice your marriage to be prepared. You could find out a year from now that nothing happened and wish you still had a spouse to plan and prepare for. Your preparations should never come at the expense of your most important teammate. Make sure they are with you as you plan. Ensure their needs are heard, concerns addressed and you will be so much better prepared as a result.