There is nothing quite like marriage. When times are good and the weather is sunny, it really is bliss and holy matrimony. But when things are bad it can feel like crawling on your belly over hot coals and broken glass.
It goes without saying that marriages take work, and it is a team effort where both parties need to be pulling in the same direction and evenly yoked.
But no matter how well we know someone, and no matter how much you love them and they love you, there will naturally be times where you just don’t agree on everything. Sometimes you might in fact disagree pretty strongly.
A different sort of crisis situation for your average prepper is one that none of us want to experience but few of us ever really planned for. That crisis is your spouse being vehemently against your prepping.
You can come at them with all the charts, graphs and PowerPoint presentations you want, but it doesn’t put a dent in their conviction that prepping is a waste of money, a waste of effort, a waste of time or all three.
Smoking and joking aside, this is a serious issue that can create a substantial rift in one of your most important relationships. On the other hand, not preparing for events that you know are statistically all but certain to occur at some point in your life is a non-starter, too.
So what is a well-intending prepper to do with a recalcitrant spouse? It is a question that can, and must, be answered. In this article I will offer you some guidance to navigate this tricky situation.
Why Would Your Spouse Be Against Prepping?!
I know it may not make much sense to you, reader, since you are most likely a prepper who eats, breathes and sleeps it, or is at least very serious about it, but as hard as it is to understand there are some people who just don’t see the point in prepping, or even find it distasteful.
It sure seems crazy: to most of us it is as natural as breathing, just another part of being a responsible adult and a caring partner. If you love someone you naturally want to protect them.
Protecting someone entails more than just checking on bumps in the night, fishing spiders out of bathtubs, and running raccoons off the trash can.
It can feel like a slap in the face when our partners don’t reciprocate our interest and enthusiasm for being materially and personally prepared for rough or even disastrous times.
Their reasons vary: some of them, perhaps even most of them, may just believe that all the bad stuff they see on TV and out in the world just plain won’t happen to the two of you or your family.
They may think that disasters natural or man-made won’t happen in your neck of the woods. While laughably naive spouses that feel this way at least probably are not hostile to the idea of being prepared.
Going a little farther down the road of cynicism you may have a spouse that feels modern technology and emergency services are all that is needed to truly mitigate a disaster.
I call these people “push-button problem solvers”; if you can push a button and solve the problem they will call it good enough and take their chances.
But the moment you can’t these people crumble in a panic. If you can pick up the phone and summon an ambulance, police or firemen to an emergency, then more power to you. I would do the same thing.
The problem is that you and I also know that situations happen every year where that capability disappears in a second or is otherwise totally unreachable but our spouses refuse to believe that such an outcome could ever really occur.
At the end of this jaded and misguided road lies the hardcases. These are spouses that are either keenly aware of the lingering social stigma around prepping and don’t want to see themselves or you labeled as the crazies, the weirdoes, the survivalists down the street or any other such term.
Never mind that the opinion of other people should have no value to them compared to the importance of keeping themselves and their family safe from harm…
Other people in this category might plainly be concerned about the financial constraints of prepping or the investment of time and other intangible resources. The juice, as they say, may simply not be worth the squeeze to them.
A House Divided
No matter what kind of prepping-hating spouse you have we’re going to go forward in this article under the assumption that any and all attempts to show them the light, bring them to reason or browbeat them into compliance have failed.
The bottom line is that you are now prepping when your spouse is firmly against it. Before you laugh it off and just say agree to disagree, remind yourself that serious disagreements over seemingly inconsequential things in marriages can have very big consequences later on.
You will have only two choices: go against your spouse, and potentially risk their wrath and enmity and your quest to be prepared for life’s ups and downs, or comply, keeping them happy, or at least happier.
But that will leave you, them and your family potentially woefully unprepared for disasters and crises of all kinds.
I know this is not an easy choice. In fact it is closer to a classic dilemma; two choices each one unacceptable and unpalatable. What is a good prepper to do in this situation?
As always, reader, your dear friend Tom here is not out to tell you how you should do it. What I will do is give you some options, workable, actionable ones, and let you decide which way is best for you and your situation.
I will offer you one more piece of motivation, though: no matter how your spouse feels, no matter how insurmountable the situation seems, you have to keep your “prepping hat” on if you want to solve this problem.
No matter how close to home it feels, and indeed this problem is naturally very close to home, it is still a problem that has to be solved and that means you have to approach it in a logical way. Don’t give up!
Some Options for Prepping if Your Spouse is Against It
A quick word on ethics: It is generally acknowledged to be a bad idea to lie to your spouse about anything. Small lies form the small stones that lead to big and devastating avalanches later.
On the other hand, if you know you are right and doing the right thing, you should simply do it and no ask permission nor forgiveness.
But things are not that simple, are they? If your spouse has a serious problem with prepping from a financial or time perspective, both commodities that are absolutely crucial for maintaining a healthy family environment, and they see prepping as detracting from both, you may not have moral grounds to dismiss their concerns.
Plenty of similar conundrums abound in these situations.
Ultimately, I’ll leave it up to you to approach this as a practical problem according to your own ethical compass and act accordingly.
Steer Into It
This strategy relies on a certain amount of backbone and is not for everyone. Depending on your living arrangements and how serious disagreements have preceded in the past, you might be in the doghouse for a little while or your significant other might be going to stay with their mother or family.
The approach is simple: prepping is important, your spouse is wrong and so long as you can afford it you should do it and damn the torpedoes.
If they get upset, you stay calm. If they scream and shout, you simply reinforce your position and then go about your business. Don’t give that fire any oxygen. There’s a chance that your spouse’s resistance to the idea of prepping is really more about control than any practical reason.
If you can show them that you don’t blink in the face of significant resistance, you may yet win them over. Regardless, you’ll be getting the prepping done and then you’ll get your comeuppance should you ever need to use what you have learned and stored.
I cannot say enough how likely, though, this strategy is to result in a minor or major conflagration in the household. Your spouse will likely pull out every trick they have learned and accumulated over your long years of relationship to deploy against you.
Retaliation is frankly likely. You should be prepared for it, and if there’s a silver lining you can treat this as a sort of stress test for yourself.
If you can’t keep your wits and your bearing about you when your spouse is enraged how are you supposed to do it when the entire world is falling apart?
If you decide to go with this strategy also make sure that your case is airtight and you have a defense or rebuttal ready for the ultimatum that they will inevitably deploy on you.
If you’re spending money on gear, equipment and training that your family needs for the kids’ braces, school and groceries you don’t have a leg to stand on.
Be Sneaky: Employ a Secret Stash
Like nearly every superhero, the solution to avoiding the conflict of who is right or wrong in this situation might be to lead a sort of double life. If you are clever, stealthy and careful it is entirely possible to prep in secret, both materially and in skills practice.
It is not out of the question that you have a series of air and watertight containers down in your basement, in your hobby shed or in the garage that you have packed full of survival supplies, food, water and gear on the off-chance that you need them.
When the cat is away the mice will play, and the mice are playing the prepping game. This strategy means you’ll need to take advantage of every lapse in your spouse’s attention or their absence to do what you need to do without risk of discovery.
If you get busted, you’ll have some explaining to do. Chances are if you are in this situation in the first place you would have already been down this road on other topics or activities. With “her” it is likely to be clothes or shoes, perhaps purses while “he” might be intent on hauling in sporting equipment, fishing rods or guns.
If this is the case or has been the case in the past you can certainly rely on the “turnabout is fair play” defense.
However, if your spouse or significant other has a history of sticking to a budget, generally honoring agreements and being open and truthful with you, you will naturally be perceived as a villain if you choose to employ this strategy.
Additional complications abound: if you’re hiding something from your spouse you need to make sure it stays well and truly hidden while also being accessible in an emergency. If you can’t get to something in a timely fashion when you need it you might as well not have it prepared.
Of course, making something to easy to access means it is too easy to find, and if your husband or wife comes across your prepping loot box packed full of supplies, gear and other items they had no idea you were actually purchasing you may be paying a pound of flesh to get out of the situation.
One Piece at a Time
One nearly certain and time-tested way to get some prepping done on any budget, even if that budget is zero because of spousal hostility, is to get a little bit here and there. Every trip to the grocery, every trip to the big box store you can add on a case of water in addition to the other items.
You can grab a few extra cans or pouches of shelf-stable food. If you need band-aids, grab a box of gauze pads or rolled gauze with it. Your next trip to the shooting range bring home an extra box of ammo.
It is slow, tedious and agonizing for those of us who want to just punch it off of our list straightaway in one fell swoop, but it definitely works, and will usually get you past inspection with your spouse.
The only shortcoming with this plan is that you will likely be keeping consumables where they are typically kept in the house, hidden in plain sight. For instance canned goods and bottled water in the pantry.
This means it is only a matter of time before your significant other notices the accumulation. For those of us who only strive to be ready to rough it for a week or two during a localized disaster, this might not be a problem.
The majority of preppers, though, strive to be ready for the long haul; 3 months plus, completely on their own.
That means you’re going to need to select a secret stash for the bulk of your preps or try to sell your spouse on accumulating that large of a reserve under false pretenses. Then there’s the other obvious problem of your supplies being raided during parties, holidays and other festivities of great consumption.
I know one unfortunate prepper who employed this plan to great success only to have his wife gather up about 65% of his preps and donate them to a food pantry and church rummage sale. Noble causes to be sure, but that was not a comfort for my unfortunate friend.
Focus on Skills
If buying a bunch of gear and spending a lot of money for laying in food, water and other provisions is frankly out of the question or creates an untenable situation in your marriage you still have options for increasing your overall level of readiness. Probably the best one is to just skill up.
No, you don’t have to attend expensive training courses to become a better prepper. They are certainly helpful and there is no replacement for expert training, but thanks to YouTube, blogs and a preponderance of helpful guides, magazines and books on all manner of subjects that are survival and sustainment centric, it is easier than ever to expand your skills and knowledge all on your own.
Many prepping skills can be practiced in your backyard, or as a pit stop on a simple hike. Classical outdoor survival skills like primitive fire-making, shelter construction, land navigation and more have a very minimal or even no start-up costs.
All you need is a good how-to guide, practice and patience, and you can figure out all the finer points of it. There is no substitute for experience, and you can go and get that almost anytime you want.
Composite skills like hiking, camping and more can be practiced under the guise of recreation. Millions of Americans enjoy recreational hiking and camping. How about fishing or hunting? Same thing.
You could plan a short, day-long road trip as a genuine family getaway, and use it as cover for scouting your vehicular bug out routes. You can do two different routes if you take one route out and another coming back.
Taking up boxing, judo or jiu-jitsu is a tremendously effective way to get fighting fit and learn important self-defense skills at the same time.
If improved physical fitness and overall health is on your spouse’s mind, they’ll have a hard time turning you down or vetoing your choice since it is so in line with their own professed desires and goals.
There are all kinds of other exercises you can do that are rooted in practical tasks, too. The classic dumbbell farmer’s carry will drastically improve your grip.
Rucking, that is hiking or walking while carrying a hefty pack, is a great way to test your bug-out bag and also burn an awful lot more calories and build more muscles for hauling in your core and back than walking alone.
You might not have a storage room full of food, shelves packed with survival gear or a gun safe containing a small arsenal, but if you put in the time and are diligent with your efforts you can keep your survival skills sharpened to a razor edge while spending very, very little money on material things.
Keep It Quiet
There’s an old aphorism that says it is better to ask for forgiveness than to ask for permission. Some people think this is a little more tongue and cheek, while others think it is absolutely serious. All I know is it is generally true.
If I were to ask you right now what your significant other would think about your attempts to start seriously prepping, I’ll bet any amount of money that you already know what your spouse would say and how the subsequent conversation will go.
If you get that little tossing-turning feeling in your stomach when you even think of bringing the subject up to your spouse, you already know your chances are not good. Maybe you can convince them, maybe not, but five will get you ten you already know the answer to that too.
So instead of broaching the subject, getting shut down, and then being forced to act deceptively in order to achieve your objectives, you should just do it.
If you are in control of your life, otherwise responsible and behave like a halfway decent adult there is no reason why you cannot do what you are convinced that you need to do for the health, safety and continued well-being of your family. Just do it. That’s it.
If your spouse finds out about it and throws a yellow flag on the play, tell them plainly and sincerely why you are doing it.
If you do it with conviction and with earnestness this should shut down someone who’s just raising a stink about it because they don’t understand it or care about it like you do.
Being prepared, truly prepared, is one of the best things you can do for yourself and your family to ensure you survive disasters, times of crisis, and just old-fashioned hard times. But prepping when your spouse is staunchly against it introduces another wrinkle into the plan that solo preppers just don’t have to deal with.
Do you think these methods are a form of deceiving your spouse or lying by omission? I don’t think so, but I suppose it depends on how many decisions in your own relationship you have to make by committee.
When you get down to brass tacks, the question is really one of whether or not you have to have your partner’s explicit permission to do something. I know that is bound to raise some feathers among those that have joint social media accounts and whatnot but it is a valid one.
Ultimately, someone has to be the leader. If you are the prepper and your spouse is not, you will be the one leading your family through a time of intense stress and crisis. That means you’ll need to step up and lead, and they need to trust and follow.
If that is impossible, your relationship may have bigger problems than who is wearing the pants when it comes to spending.
Tom Marlowe practically grew up with a gun in his hand, and has held all kinds of jobs in the gun industry: range safety, sales, instruction and consulting, Tom has the experience to help civilian shooters figure out what will work best for them.