Preparedness – Getting the Reluctant Spouse into Prepping part 4

KR Training assistant instructor Kelli Kochan presented this material at our 2017 Preparedness Conference.  With our new Preparedness Level 1 and Level 2 classes coming up January 6-7, 2018, this information might be useful to those thinking about attending, or wanting to motivate a spouse to join them.

This is Part 4. Part 3 is here. Part 2 is here. Part 1 is here.

Strategies for Getting the Reluctant Spouse Into Prepping

Part 4:  When You Meet Resistance

Sooner or later, you’re going to cover all of the common ground, and all of the ground where your spouse can be persuaded to see your viewpoint.  Your goals are going to start pushing up against her boundary lines, and you’re going to get resistance.

Lesson 6.  Don’t try to counter an emotional argument with a rational one.

Just don’t.  If it has any effect at all, it will be to increase the emotional level and make her dig in and throw up fortifications around her feelings/beliefs.  If you don’t believe me, just try to talk politics or religion with someone on the other side.

When John talked me into joining the local Volunteer Fire Department, he thought I might have some difficulty getting accustomed to the face mask and air pack, so he brought one home so I could experience it for the first time not in front of the whole department.  Good thinking, as it turned out.  The first time I put the face mask on, I immediately had a panic attack.  I stood in the living room, hyperventilating, while saying over and over, “I can’t breathe”.  John could have explained to me, calmly and rationally, that in fact I was perfectly able to breathe, and he could have gone on trying to convince me of that right up until I passed out from too much air.  Wisely, he chose instead to help me unfasten the mask and remove it, because I was far too emotional to be receptive to rational explanations.  Once the mask was off and I calmed down, we could talk about my reaction and I could accept John pointing out that I was breathing the whole time I was in the mask, which really helped when I put it back on again.

Be aware that emotion is going to underlie at least some part of everyone’s motivations and boundary lines.  The extent depends on the person and the particular boundary line.  Sometimes you just have to let a situation cool down and talk again when your spouse isn’t so emotional.  Sometimes, her whole perspective about a particular topic is built on emotion; in that case, you’ll find a counter-emotional argument to have any chance of persuading her toward your viewpoint.

Lesson 7.  Work around/over/under/through.

When you can’t move straight from point A to point B, you need to look for alternative ways.  If you understand your spouse’s reasons for reluctance, can you find a way to ameliorate them?  If her motivation is fear, is there something you can do to help them build confidence or find ways to ease her fears?  If the problem is lack of resources, can you build up some extra resources?  Note that I’m not talking about just financial or material resources.  John and I are increasingly finding that our time and effort influence our plans more than money and the stuff we can buy with it.  Can you find ways to make change easier or more rewarding for her?

Can you accomplish the same goal with a different motivation?  I didn’t get into gardening or canning for the food production and storage.  I got into those things because I enjoy sharing the hobby with my mother; the prepping benefit just makes it more rewarding.  Remember the camping vs. no-utility weekend that I mentioned above?  That also works if your spouse thinks you’re nuts because tell her you want to have a no-utility weekend.  Instead, maybe you can just take her camping – not backyard camping, but actual camping, at a campground, somewhere different that she doesn’t see every day.  Present it as being about having an adventure together instead of prepping.

Or take for example the lady Paul mentioned, who did not want to hear any talk that the economy might crash.  If you’re partnered with someone like her, you don’t have to tell her that your intent is to prepare for financial collapse.  Maybe you’re just interested in funding a better lifestyle in retirement.  Maybe you’ve decided that you want to collect coins for a hobby and the various Mints are making some really neat coins in gold and silver and other metals.  I’ve seen some nice designs; being a horsewoman I particularly appreciated one I saw commemorating the Chinese Year of the Horse.  The Perth Mint in Australia offers a platinum platypus that makes me giggle every time I see it.  I know someone who has been collecting the old silver dollars, trying to get a certain number for each year they were minted.  It’s not the most efficient or cost-effective method of investing in precious metals, but if it’s a route that works, it’s a route you can use.

I’m stealing one of John’s suggestions here:  If all else fails, invoke the Zombie Apocalypse!  Seriously, pick eventuality that you want to prepare for – you can cover it by preparing for the Zombie Apocalypse.  Forest fire, flood, hurricane, crop failure, job loss, economic collapse, death… all plausible effects of being overrun by zombies.  As long as you make a game out of it – and don’t convince your spouse that you’ve gone bonkers and actually expect a zombie outbreak – you can make preparations without talking about topics that are uncomfortable to your spouse.

Lesson 8.  Sometimes, what you want isn’t going to happen.

Sometimes, no matter how well you understand and communicate with your spouse, and no matter how much you try to work around, she has drawn a line that is not going to move.  Sometimes, the reason for reluctance is so strong that there is no easing it.  Learn to recognize the lines that don’t move, because you only have 2 options there.  I strongly suggest option 1:  Accept those lines as the way things are and quit pushing on them.  Option 2 is to keep pushing or just do what you want anyway, and that’s going to create more resistance and damage your relationship, maybe irreparably.

Well, there you have it:  what I’ve learned about working together with your spouse, as applied to easing her reluctance toward a preparedness lifestyle.  As John Daub pointed out to me, these lessons can also be applied to other relatives, friends, co-workers, etc.  Questions and comments are welcome.