Being prepared is really important to some people and completely weird to others. I believe it should be important to everyone, but its not and we have to accept that.
When one person comes to the realization that being prepared just makes sense and wants to get started but their spouse is not only unenthusiastic but is actively opposed, the potential for conflict can grow each day. In this episode we are going to talk about how to approach your spouse with the idea of preparedness and how to avoid the big blowout fights that could happen.
Home should be the one place in the world where we are the most comfortable and at peace. Even if you can't get your spouse to agree or appreciate your preparedness efforts you should be able to get them to the point where they realize that it is important to you and as such will support your desired to some degree. Here are some things that will help you talk to your spouse about preparedness and how to build up your self reliance without too much conflict in your home.
Reasons your spouse is opposed to being prepared
For anyone who has had an interest in being prepared for any time at all, it can be difficult to think of any logical reason that someone would be opposed to having a basic level of preparedness. Logical is the key term here, we are talking about someone's opinions and feelings. Opinions and feelings do not have to be logical to be important to the person. Some of the reasons your spouse might not be comfortable with prepping could be legitimate and others won't be.
This television show has been a blessing and a curse to everyone who thinks being prepared is a good idea. The show does call into question the likelihood of something traumatic happening. This show does demonstrate things that can be done that will make someone more prepared for a major event, but that is about the entirety of its benefits to anyone.
How has Doomsday Preppers harmed the idea of preparedness? Lots of ways, but we will cover just a few. First, the producers of the show make everyone who appears on the show look like lunatics. Second, the show makes it look like you have to have a lot of discretionary income to be prepared. Third, the show implies that everyone who prepares is expecting the worst to happen and for people to act in the worst possible way. If you will think about it objectively, you will see how this show has done way more to damage the image of anyone who is trying to be prepared than it has done any good at all.
Preparing for something makes it more likely to happen
As I wrote that statement I realize how strange that sounds, but it is true that there are some people who honestly believe if they don't think about something, it won't happen to them. Taking any kind of preventative action forces people to think about bad things happening them and not to someone the next town over, but to them. Denial is comfortable.
I don't want people to think we are weird
When I first told my wife that I wanted to start increasing our food storage and I wanted to be better prepared, her first response was "You're not going to become one of those Doomsday people are you?" I had to ease her fear. This took time, but I am glad to say that now she will notice things that we should have more on hand. In hindsight I could have handled the situation better and helped her along the path quicker. This is one reason I am trying to help those of you who find yourself in the situation that I found myself.
We don't have the money
Once again we have Doomsday Preppers to thank for this fear. This show makes it look like you have to have a fortune to be prepared. This couldn't be further from the truth. I believe in a system that I have come to call SIIS ( Small Intentional Incremental Steps). As best I can tell this system is from my own backwoods brain and I believe it is the best system for people of limited resources to do really anything. We will be going into great detail about the SIIS system in the near future. For this we will just say do a little each time that builds on each other to reach a desired goal.
We don't have the spaceWhen a lot of people think of prepping they envision an entire room filled with long term food storage or a closet full of water storage. The truth is that prepping will take up some room, but done wisely it doesn't have to make your home look like an episode of Hoarders.
Organize your thoughts
This suggestion is a good idea no matter what you're wanting to talk about. Organizing you thoughts ahead of time shows your spouse that whatever you are talking about is important to you. It shows them that you have actually taken the time to think about the situation and you are not just reacting to something. Just organizing your thoughts and reasons will make you more effective.
I will be the first to admit that very few conversations go exactly the way we think they will. You will not be able to predict every possible reaction your spouse will have. You will have to adjust what you say based on their reactions and responses. If they are reacting emotionally, you may have to let it go for the time being and talk about it later.
The terms" I think"," I believe", and "I feel" are not interchangeable." I think" is thought based. The term" I feel" is emotion based. "I believe" can be a mixture of both. This is something that should be taught in every public speaking class in the world. Marketing companies use the differences in these terms all the time based on how they want the consumer to respond. You are not being manipulative if you think ahead of time about which term to use. You are trying to make sure that you express yourself as effectively as possible.
I have a feeling this one will be primarily for the guys out there, but it is worth a mention to all. I know some guys that the sum total of their activity is going to work, coming home, sitting in their recliner, eating what their wife fixes for supper, showering, going to bed, then repeat. On the weekend they will mow the yard then sit and watch whatever sports event is on television (it doesn't even matter if it is from 1988....I wonder who is going to win).
Just imagine how you would respond if you did almost everything in an organization and someone who had been a member since the organization was founded but had never really taken an active role in the administration started trying to dictate how you ran things. You would be upset at minimum, more likely angry. This is the way some spouses will respond. I have heard of it happening. Even if they don't get angry unless you are involved they don't have to do anything you say. I can just imagine telling my wife, "Honey, I want you to pick up 10 cans of beef stew this week.". She could forget or "forget". Since I am involved I can just pick things up to be added to the food storage.
By this point you should have put a considerable amount of thought and time into getting ready for this conversation. Very few, if any, conversations go exactly as we expect. If you have put the time into organizing your thoughts, either in your head or on paper, it will be much easier to communicate effectively. Here are some tips to make the conversation go smoothly.
Make it relatableIf you were going to have this conversation today there are several events you could reference; Hurricane Patricia, flooding in Texas or South Carolina, wild fires in the Pacific Northwest. No matter when you have this conversation there will be some disaster in the past couple of weeks that you can reference. A natural disaster happens very regularly and people in the impact area of those disasters go through really tough times. Let your spouse know that you are genuinely concerned about the well being of your family.
This should really be a conversation with give and take. It shouldn't turn into a lecture or a monologue. How would we take care of our family if we couldn't get to a store for a few days? What would we do if we were without power for an extended period of time (think 3 to 10 days)? How would we get things if the ATM's or debit cards weren't working? By asking questions you are making your spouse think. You are asking them to consider the possibilities of something happening and how they think you as a family should deal with these potential threats.
Allow them to express themselves. Don't interrupt. Ask followup questions. Steven Covey in his book Seven Habits of Highly Effective People made a statement that I have tried to implement in my life. Listen to understand, not to be understood. Too many times we really only listen to someone good enough to come up with a response to what they say, we really aren't listening to what they mean. This is your spouse we are talking about here, listen to understand.
We have had a good example locally for the last question. We live in a small community. In fact our county would be considered small as far as population is concerned. Our county has a regionally owned phone company, yup they still exist. All of our internet access that isn't mobile based goes through this company. Well not long ago one of their cable trucks caught on fire and damaged a major routing hub. Over half of the county was without internet service for over 24 hours. When a business is without internet service they can't take any credit or debit cards. There were people in a panic over just one day without internet. You can use that if you want in your conversation.
Don't reference world changing events
DO NOT talk about global crisis unless one is right in your face. Talking about the possibility of nuclear war isn't going to help your case, neither is the Yellowstone super volcano. Could these things occur? Sure, but the likelihood of them happening is so much smaller than damaging straight line winds. Are you willing to sacrifice doing anything at all if you can't do everything?
Even if you do everything right your spouse still could be opposed. It does happen. Don't escalate the conversation and continue a conversation that isn't going to end well just because your conviction is so strong. You may have to reach a point where you tell your spouse something along the lines of "I respect your opinion but this is important to me and I am going to prepare some, I want you to respect me and my thoughts as well."
If this happens you will have to be the one who works on your family's preparedness on your own.
The build up
Remember SIIS ? (Small Intentional Incremental Steps) Food, water, basic comfort, and sanitation are the things your should focus on first. At this point you shouldn't even be considering going out and buying a tricked out AR15 and 10,000 rounds calling it being prepared. If you want one that's fine, but don't try to justify it with preparedness to your spouse, especially when you are first getting started.
We will go into much greater detail in the future about individual steps, just remember that each action should build on all of the others. Focus on food, water, and basic comfort. I have included links to previous posts on each.
If you are patient and consistent something will happen that will show your spouse that you are not as crazy as they thought. My demonstration came a couple of years ago. When my wife asked what I wanted for my birthday I told her I wanted a camp stove. She looked at me and asked if this was some of that prepper stuff. I told her it could be used for that, but I wanted us to start camping. It wasn't 10 days later, the weather guessers were calling for a snow, but nothing to be concerned about. It started snowing in the late afternoon. By the time we went to bed we had a nice amount of snow on the ground. My wife woke up at around 4:30 in the morning. The power was out. I have no idea how long the power was out before she woke up, but it was long enough for the house to be cooling off a good bit. I got up and started a fire in the fireplace, got out the camp stove and fixed breakfast for my family. My wife just looked at me. She later asked me "How did you know?". I didn't, I just wanted to be able to take care of my family.
The hope of every preparedness minded person should be that they never have to use their preps and if they do it is either for something short term or to help someone out in the community. Being prepared is so much easier when you have a team. Your spouse is supposed to be your number one team member. With out their support it will be a lot more difficult, but you can still get it done.
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