Preparing for hard times is already an uphill battle. It takes time, money, practice and effort to create a self-sufficient lifestyle that will provide food, shelter, and a few modern comforts in hard times, but it is nearly impossible to make those changes in the face of resistance from a spouse, who usually shares your budget. Fortunately, there are still ways to prepare and encourage them in the right direction.
Talk about it carefully: In a world that openly demeans “preppers” as a fringe part of society, it can be hard to have an open conversation about the merits of preparing for a major crisis. When you do have an open conversation, be careful not to unleash a pent-up rant over the all the facts the media intentionally misrepresents. With a spouse you have time to move slowly and present information and circumstances carefully. Some people need the facts, others just want a summary of the critical details. Keep the conversation mutual so they don’t feel steamrolled each time the topic comes up. Be very careful about getting caught up in the hype of certain internet talk shows, especially those that continually preach imminent economic collapse. You can’t afford to get yourself discredited.
Be cautious when you feel strongly about a topic. The book Crucial Conversations has valuable tips for avoiding the typical pitfalls of emotionally-charged discussions. Like many self-help books it ignores the right and wrong of issues in favor of peaceful compromise, but at least it teaches you to recognize generalizations and name-calling and to stick with the facts. Think about how you want the conversation to be resolved and work toward a reasonable outcome.
Many people are resistant to even entertaining controversial topics for fear of taking a position outside the safety of the mainstream. They see the mockery heaped on those taking unpopular positions and don’t want to sit atop that kind of social dunk tank. Although I don’t try to convince anyone around me unless they already sense something is wrong, in the case of a spouse it is important to acclimatize them to the truth. Even just passing comments about current events and some of the inconsistencies (have the facts to back it up if they ask you for specifics) can help slowly adjust their thinking. You can bolster your credibility by laying out the standard version of events (usually summarized nicely by Wikipedia) and then pointing out all the areas where they have glossed over critical aspects or ignored detailed testimony and facts that contradict the official story. It may help to read out loud to your spouse small sections of news and analysis that are particularly well written and researched—but only if it hasn’t become a sore topic yet.
Consider other avenues: Most likely you will find there is a limit to how far you can bring a resistant spouse to your point of view. Don’t keep pushing or it will seem like nagging. Instead, work on a different side of preparedness. Look for areas where you can work within common ground—gardening, natural healing, raising animals, growing fruit trees, landscaping with berry bushes, etc.
Show them the benefits of the things you purchase. Don’t just acquire things that gather dust. Bake from scratch with your wheat grinder, make tasty canned foods and preserves, dehydrate things they like too, save money by buying food in bulk, put tools to use by fixing cars and things around the house, use your weapons to hunt and process the meat into usable cuts, make nice homemade soap, use the wood burning fireplace, improve your camping gear, etc. This will force you to be practical about what you buy and get you using it—which are the best ways to prepare and check your equipment. It will also help build their trust and justify future expenditures. Few spouses object to a hobby as long as it is productive and not untidy or offensive.
Alleviate sore points. Some aspects of preparedness are unavoidably negative and might grate on your spouse. The ham radio antennas and solar panels that are unsightly on the roof, the generator that takes up part of the patio or garage, the animals digging up the flowerbeds or constantly escaping, the dirty wood and ashes around the fireplace, the spare fuel smells, etc.
Don’t get rid of your critical preparations over superficial problems, but do look for ways to alleviate the core irritation. There are many ways to hide radio antennas or reduce their height. Solar panels can still work on west or even east-facing roofs (but it requires a few more panels for the same output). Hiding generators, towers, equipment and fuel is actually very important for keeping a low profile in hard times. Generator pads, for instance, should be behind a masonry or concrete wall. Spare fuel keeps best underground. Keep things clean, well-managed and hidden to avoid both unsightliness at home now and in the future with hungry neighbors.
Joel Skousen adds: “Despite all the good advice, you may still fail to bring the spouse around if they have innate resistance to facing negative realities. Innateness refers to the set factors that determine a person’s basic personality or internal spirit. These fairly rigid factors manifest themselves from birth, and are almost impossible to change—things like drive or lack of drive, attraction to worldly things or immunity to peer pressure, ability to withstand pain or hardship, shyness or being outgoing, being loving or taciturn, etc. In fact, I will hazard to guess that if any of you have been dealing with a resistant spouse for a number of years, there is some sort of innate personality resistance in them.
“For example, most mild mannered and soft people are innately resistant to conflict and argumentation. That means they are usually uncomfortable even discussing hard times or preparations for war. They don’t want to see it, even if real. Some people are very susceptible to peer pressure and what other people think. They will be resistant to believing the scenarios that will bring on ridicule from others. Some soft people, who recognize the truth and agree with you still won’t be enthusiastic about talking about it. It is the same with politics. For some it is just too complex and uncomfortable.
“The secret to dealing with innate resistance is 1) recognize where your spouse’s innate set points are, 2) accept that you aren’t going to be able to change innateness very much, 3) try and move them away from their comfort level in small increments, and 4) if they aren’t going to come your way, or they reach their limit of change, accept that and stop pushing. You may just have to reach an agreement where you can proceed on your own.”
Start now to make sure you are staying prepared.