Jonathan and I are quite blessed to have a partner with whom we are united in our self-reliance and preparedness efforts. Our readers frequently remind us that not everyone is so lucky. Whether you are single or married, sometimes you may find that you are prepping alone.
Are you trying to tackle the onerous task of preparing to face a disaster alone? Do you have a companion who is unsupportive and unwilling to see the dangers that lie in the future? Disaster preparedness is a demanding undertaking even with a willing teammate. You have some unique challenges but you can be ready when disaster strikes.
A spouse who is uninterested or opposed to spending time or resources to prepare for disasters can significantly impact your ability to prepare to survive future events. We don’t have a magic answer to solve the discord in your relationship when it comes to emergency preparedness but we can perhaps offer some unique perspectives and ideas on how to solve the dilemma.
As we teach classes, our students will frequently ask us how they can possibly prepare when their spouse is unsupportive. Some are even hostile toward preparedness efforts. It is much easier to successfully prepare when both spouses are on the same page.
Unfortunately, just because your spouse is not supportive doesn’t change the fact that bad things are going to happen to good people, and that carefully preparing in advance will save property and lives. The journey to self-reliance is an important one.
If you are prepping alone, you have probably tried everything in the book to convince your spouse to jump on board with you. You have my permission to completely skip this advice or perhaps look at it from just a bit of a different angle. Let’s explore these possibilities.
Underlying Reasons for Partner Opposition to Prepping
I have found that most behaviors can usually be traced back to an underlying set of ideas or circumstances. Take time to explore what may be influencing your partner’s aversion to prepping. Perhaps these will give you a few ideas.
Life is sometimes a battle for scarce resources. When funds are limited in a family and there are many demands screaming for those resources, it makes it difficult to put them toward an unseen possible future event.
Deciding Where to Allocate Resources
If you are trying to decide between a European vacation and building your long-term food storage, I am afraid I can’t fight that battle for you. The basic resources are available, you will need to become an expert in the art of negotiation to make progress and keep the relationship healthy and intact.
No Resources to Allocate
If you are struggling to just live paycheck to paycheck, I can tell you from experience that building your food storage will help you live better on less. It will enable you to get through those little emergencies without stressing about where your next meal is coming from.
I attribute our ability to raise 11 children on a single income to both miracles from heaven, and obediently building our food storage. I wisely purchased foods when they went on sale and cooked from scratch using inexpensive staples like rice, beans, wheat, and oats.
My family eats a healthy diet and is well-fed on much less than the $969 a month the USDA recommends for feeding a family of only 6 people. It is less expensive to build a healthy food supply of basics than to go to the store each week and purchase what you need.
Fundamental Aversion to Preppers
Many people, including my husband Jonathan, are turned off by the word prepper. It creates the image of a Doomsday Prepper with a loaded automatic weapon in one hand and a rat on the way to the dinner table in the other. That fanatical portrayal of survival at all costs is a bit offensive.
Your spouse may not want to be listed among the crazy extremists. Quite frankly, I don’t blame him or her. It may be a good idea to relabel your preparedness activities as something less offensive. It may be acceptable to stock up on additional provisions because the odds of a hurricane along your coastline is significant. Don’t label it as prepping. Label it as common-sense.
Do Not Label an Activity as Prepping
Jonathan waited until after we were married to gently invite me to a “meeting” that he liked to attend in a neighboring city. It was kind of funny to watch him squirm as he tested the water to see how I might respond. I love to spend time with Jon so I decided I would give it a try after listening to him try to warn me repeatedly about the extreme personalities that I was about to encounter.
What I came across was a group of delightfully good-hearted people who seemed to be just a bit over-the-top when it came to building nuclear fallout shelters and carefully preparing for any and all possible scenarios. When did they find time to actually live life instead of just preparing to survive? They were quite passionate about prepping.
I continued to attend the meetings with Jonathan every once in a while as home demands permitted. Almost 20 years later, I am the editor for the Journal of Civil Defense, co-author of The Provident Prepper: A Common-Sense Guide to Emergency Preparedness, a preparedness blogger and YouTuber. I live a lifestyle of provident living, self-reliance, and preparedness and I love it!
I still refuse to eat rats or listen to crazy talk about being the last man standing. I am a prepper who wants to make the world a better place because I am in it and spend every day loving my family.
I went to that meeting with Jonathan because he gently invited me and didn’t put any pressure on me, allowing me to slowly acclimate to the idea. The payoff was a wife who is supportive of his mission but has her own ideas about where the resources should be allocated.
Sometimes the problem is a mindset that “it is not my responsibility to take care of myself or my family”. When challenges come, FEMA, a church, the government or a knight in shining armor will rush to my rescue with the needed supplies and help. Ultimately it is just not my responsibility, so why put myself out.
We are aware of many people, including some in leadership positions, that really don’t believe that anything bad will ever happen, or that if it does, help will arrive within 3 days and we don’t need to worry about anything else. They are sadly mistaken. If we truly evaluate the risks we face, we need to prepare to be self-reliant for an extended period of time.
It is possible that someone might rush in on a white horse and save you from yourself. More than likely you, along with your loved ones, will suffer because of poor choices. This is especially painful when you are the spouse that takes responsibility and wants to move forward and get ready to face the challenges. You have my admiration and support!
As far as the choice not to take responsibility, I implore you to choose to be that knight in shining armor. Stand tall and make a difference in this world. First for your family, and then one-by-one to everyone you come in contact with. You can only be a valiant knight and rescue others if you first have the ability to care for yourself.
There is a movement in society, in general, to sit back and let other people take care of your needs. The mindset that no matter what happens the government or someone should be there to see that your needs are met is unreasonable.
It takes time and subtle influence to help a person understand the true reality of life. Although you may want to hit your partner over the head with a 2×4 as a wakeup call, that will be totally ineffective. A strategic conversation that allows him or her to reach their own accurate conclusions may need to be facilitated and guided by you.
For instance … You are watching the news together and opportunities to ask searching questions (such as those below) present themselves. DO NOT answer them for your spouse! The thought process is critical in order to reach a clear understanding.
- Why do you think those poor people are still waiting for FEMA to bring them clean drinking water?
- What do you think we would do if that disaster (flooding, extended power outage, looting, wildfires, etc.) happened here?
- Is there anything we could do to make it easier for us if that disaster happened here?
Gently allow these ideas to marinate over days, months and even years. Don’t force your will on your partner. Never flaunt the fact that you were right! By allowing him or her to come to this realization on their own, you may just obtain a prepping partner for life.
Fear of an All-Consuming Pastime
Is your partner afraid that you have gone crazy and wants nothing to do with the insanity? I have the opportunity to rub shoulders with some unique people in my occupation. There are some preppers I interact with that are completely obsessed with the-end-of-the-world-as-we-know-it. They stockpile supplies as if they will never be able to obtain anything manufactured ever again. It is them against the world and the last man standing is the sole survivor.
This mentality even scares me! Are you perhaps a little bit over-the-top in your prepper obsession? Did you buy a set of matching military gas masks for your 10th wedding anniversary? Are you living your life in fear of the devastating possibilities that the future holds?
It might be time for a reality check my friend. Your future just might hold happiness and peace beyond your wildest expectations. If you always look for the bad, it will find you. Take reasonable steps to prepare to take care of your family today and in the future. Keep a healthy balance in your life and spend both time and resources on enjoyable activities as well as prepping.
Prepping in Spite of Partner Choices
You may want to move forward regardless of the absence of support. Be careful. Your marriage should be your top priority. Do not allow prepping to create a wedge in your relationship.
Slow Steady Silent Steps
It is possible to make progress while almost completely flying under the radar. I am not suggesting anything dishonest in any way because dishonesty will quickly destroy relationships.
Perhaps it might look something like this. You are watching the nightly news together and the usual tragic disasters are on the screen. This one hits a bit close to home and you casually mention that it might be a good idea to stock up with a bit of extra food this week, just in case.
You have complete autonomy over how the grocery budget is spent. Use that freedom to slowly stock up on everyday food items and build up your family food reserve. If the question comes up, you simply explain that you have discovered that by purchasing food on sale you have been able to stretch your food dollar. Successful sale shopping requires keeping a little storehouse at home to make it between sales.
You know a 55-gallon water barrel would never work but you mention that a few extra cases of water bottles would be important to have on hand. Take slow steady steps and be grateful for every bit of progress you make.
Capitalize on Common Ground
You may not get your spouse to fully buy into the level of emergency preparedness that you would like to implement. Do not get discouraged and give up. Are there any areas that you can agree upon and move forward?
For instance, it is important to be able to cook when the power goes out. Your spouse isn’t supportive of any of the alternative devices that were promoted at the Prepper Expo you dragged him to. Maybe it is a good time to encourage the purchase of a good quality backyard barbeque with a side burner to entertain friends and family. It is always a good idea to keep a few full bottles of propane around so that you don’t run out of fuel in the middle of a meal. Progress made!
Maybe your wife doesn’t feel the same way you do about cool survival gadgets. However, she is fully supportive of you taking your kids on overnight adventures where those items may be critically important to safety and comfort. Progress made!
Perhaps your partner isn’t overly fond of your obsession with firearms but she is supportive as you teach your daughters to shoot for their own protection in an increasingly dangerous world. Do not talk about how useful these weapons will be during the zombie apocalypse. Focus on the skills your daughters are learning. Progress made!
Do you see where I am going with this? You both have things that are important to you. Maybe you just need to paint your prepping in a little bit of a different light. Be grateful for whatever progress you are able to make.
It may all come down to negotiation. You both have different priorities and you should each have your own spending money. You don’t get to tell each other how to spend their money.
You can use your personal spending money to stock up. Your spouse may actually be very grateful, but that gratitude may be in the future. Don’t get discouraged. Being prepared is worth the sacrifice.
Prepper Individual Priorities
As men and women, we naturally fall into different roles in life. When it comes to prioritizing preparedness tasks and purchases each visualizes the priority differently.
Male Prepper Priorities
Men tend to be protectors and providers. Their view of preparedness priorities often focuses on survival and defense, and for good reasons. A man has a great need to protect his family. His priorities will focus on items that he feels are critical to be able to accomplish this purpose. Weapons, including firearms, may be high on his list. In his mind, he needs to prepare for every possible threat that may potentially cause harm to his family.
The next priorities for many men are basic survival skills, which are completely in line with his need to provide for his family. Currently, he may go to the office each day and return with a nice paycheck that provides shelter, food, and necessities for his family. In his mind, he needs to prepare for a possible time when that job is gone and he will instinctively need to provide shelter, food, and necessities using the skills he has acquired.
Female Prepper Priorities
Women are innate nurturers. A female naturally focuses a lot on the details of feeding and clothing her family. Women need security and tend to focus on preparedness priorities such as food storage, how to accomplish household tasks (laundry, cooking, etc.) without power, relationships, and strengthening her home.
These priorities and tendencies are not always similar across the board. Priorities are as unique as the individual regardless of gender. Sometimes the roles are reversed but there is always a difference in priorities due to the way each partner visualizes their role.
The Battle for Scarce Resources
Dad feels a great need to purchase another gun and although he has 10,000 rounds of ammunition in the basement. He is constantly concerned that if things got really bad he would be left unprotected without the basic tools he needs to protect his family.
Mom does a fantastic job of stocking up a little bit at a time and the fruits of her labors have finally paid off. She has a nice pantry that is stocked with enough food that she could cook meals for her family for 4 months. She feels that their long term food storage still needs a bit of work. After all, soon it will not just be their children. Grandchildren will be entering the scene and she simply can’t bear the thought that her grandchildren might go hungry in this terribly chaotic and unstable world.
Where do the resources get allocated? The priority for the dad is different than for mom. Perhaps the disposable income in question is split equally but that would not leave adequate funds to purchase the desired firearm. Negotiate and take into consideration the foundational reasoning that your partner’s priorities are a bit different than yours.
Prepping All Alone
Prepping as a single parent, a widow or widower, or just on your own stacks a unique set of challenges on top of an already stressful life. The ability to have someone to turn to is an incredible resource and comfort. Looking at facing potentially difficult times alone can be overwhelming.
I would like to suggest a few ideas that may help you to successfully tackle the challenges unique to a single prepper.
It is incredibly difficult to step out of your comfort zone and reach out to someone in hopes of building a friendship. Difficult does not mean that it is impossible. Take a deep breath and get to work.
Widow and Single Mother
A young single mother might reach out to an elderly widow to create a relationship that will help both of them be better prepared to face disaster. A single mother can always use a helping hand with the children and a widow can benefit from a little excitement to break up her long lonely days.
Sharing meals, helping with chores, tending children, and just a friendly phone call or wave across the street can go a long way to developing a friendship. As they start to work on their emergency preparedness plan, they have a common goal and by working together can make sure that both women are taken care of today as well as when disaster strikes.
Young Family and Elderly Couple
When a family adopts an elderly couple in the neighborhood, they are both strengthened and better prepared to face challenges. The young family provides the physical strength that the older couple lacks, and the couple provides vital resources, wisdom, and knowledge that a young family has not been able to accumulate.
Together they can develop an emergency plan that ensures they are both taken care of when disaster strikes.
Preppers With and Without Partners Unite
Preppers are a unique breed of people who have the wisdom and foresight to prepare to be self-reliant regardless of the curves that life may throw their way. The prepper community can be a valuable asset to society. As we unite as a group of knowledgeable, skilled, self-reliant people who care about others, we are a positive force for good, especially when disaster strikes.
Please join us as we learn to love life today and take steady steps to be ready to conquer our future.
Thanks for being part of the solution!