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Friday, July 30, 2010

How to start a preparedness dialogue with your spouse


I wrote this as the first part of a series for a different site but I think it's pertinent to everyone. Let me know what you think.
Over the last four years this modern survivalism kick has grown by leaps and bounds. As more people are realizing the fragility of our food distribution, infrastructure, and witnessing our government's failures to act, survivalism has become less of a paranoid delusion and more of a rational method of risk mitigation. Whether your own journey began as a sportsman looking for wilderness survival tools, or as a political observer understanding that we are never more than 72 hours from civil unrest, we can all see how sensitive our society has become to minor interruptions.

One of the biggest complaints I hear from men and women getting started with prepping is the reluctance of their husbands or wives to get on board with preparedness. They hear the same things from their spouses as they do from the media: "oh, you're just paranoid", "that kind of thing will never happen, this is America", and of course, "I think you're over reacting". As much as you may know their naivete is dangerous, you'll never gain their support without first demonstrating compassion and wisdom. So, hopefully we can give you some communicative tools to help open a positive and productive dialogue with your significant other, so that they may come to understand your concerns and work with you to establish a better level of readiness.

First we must attach a personal investment to the situation. For men approaching women this can usually be done by asking if she would feel better by knowing there is always enough food, water, and medicine for 30 days in the house. The inevitable answer is yes, she would feel relieved. Which will touch upon her emotional needs to be provided for and safe. However, there will be a "but". So you hear her out and then explain how it's a better situation financially because you're going to need the food anyways and you can then wait for good sales to replenish the shelves. Saving money and reducing expenses, which introduces the rational argument. Then volunteer your time to go with her to the supermarket, stating that it can be something you do together which will once again tie into her emotional need for intimacy. Though we may not be winning her over to a fully-stocked homestead in Montana, its a start.

For women approaching men it is always easiest to explain the brass tacks rational side without making him feel disrespected. By involving his instinctual nature to keep his family safe a statement like, "I know you've been looking at ways to reduce our expenses and this will make me feel better. Maybe I can get around to organizing the pantry, too", will play on many areas of great concern to a man. Another way you can get an outdoorsy-type interested is by asking if he has a survival kit in his pack, boat, or tacklebox. Then asking what's in it and why. Men love to "talk shop" and will exude confidence when engaged in conversation where he feels respected. If he doesn't have a kit, tell him you'd feel better if he had one, and you'd like him to put one together for you, too. Once again touching on his need to protect you and making him feel respected for his abilities as a man.

Secondly, survivalism is the wrong word. We first spoke about this subject in the article Defining our cause and Perspective. The implication is that we are trying to run off into the woods ala Red Dawn in order to fight off the Russian invasion. Because of our society's inclination to believe such Hollywood non-sense, you must address what you do not mean so that you are not taken for a wannabe Rambo. Explain to your significant other that what you want is a better quality of life brought on by less worries about the "what if's". Plan your preps around your lifestyle and trying to keep that alive for as long as possible, even when Murphy throws some curves your way.

Lastly, use common sense. There is no need to approach your significant other with an argument or hostile tone. "Because I'm the man and I said so" will only cause resentment and bitterness, and due to association, every time you re-approach the subject you will have to overcome that hurdle. Approach your spouse with the heart of a teacher, explaining gently that you have concerns, but also a plan. And that you would like their help in the process.

Your husband or wife may not catch the fever, but that's alright. You'll be started on your baby steps and as we know, every journey begins with a single step. To add, circumstances surrounding us will always be changing. We can point to current events an explain their ability to significantly interrupt your lives if it had hit just a little bit closer and maybe, over time, they will begin to understand the need for preparedness. As always, approach your spouse with love, wisdom, and compassion. If that doesn't work, bribe them with ice cream.

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