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How to Talk to Your Spouse About Prepping: The Sliding Scale of Possibilities, by Mr. Reasonable Ohio

I’d like to thank JWR and all of you for providing such a mountain of good information!  I am in my 30’s and have a family with several small children in the suburbs, and just started prepping about 18 months ago.  I don’t remember the details of why I got started exactly.  It just came up in conversation with a couple of friends of mine and we got serious about it.

I do remember, however, some of the events and conversations that took place to get my wife involved (I mean…at least get her permission!) and so I thought I would share it with you.  Maybe there is another person out there that is interested in being prepared, but doesn’t know how to approach his or her spouse.
I am in finance and my wife was in accounting before we had children, so we both think of things very logically and practically.  (Or at least we enjoy thinking that we do)  So, when I explained to my wife my desire to “be prepared” I used two events to my advantage:

1 – In September 2008 Hurricane Ike slammed into the United States down south and then pushed north inland causing $7.8 billion in damages, killing hundreds, and causing power outages for hundreds of thousands.  My area lost power for a couple of days, but my wife and I were both working at the time and neither of us lost power at work for very long.  Curiously, our block including us were without power for 8 days, while all the houses around our block had the power turned back on after 24-48 hours.  The power company was simply working on highest priorities, and we weren’t one of them.  Fortunately, we didn’t have kids and we could go to work and visit friends who had power, so it wasn’t a big deal.  We gave away what was in the freezer because we didn’t know what else to do with it.  I visited the local store for batteries and such, but it was all gone.  Again, not a big deal.  We had a few yummy-smelling candles and a few spare batteries lying around.

2 – Last winter we had rain for a few days, which became freezing rain, which then just became bitterly cold and frozen everywhere.  It was so beautiful!!!  It was also treacherous.  We have a steep driveway and when I went out to start the car for work I slid (while standing) all the way down the driveway and then fell into the street…sliding all the way into the street.  Thankfully, I didn’t break anything and no cars were coming.  If there were they would not have been able to stop.  I went into work and didn’t notice until later that there was blood dripping from inside of my pants.  I was cut up pretty bad and bruised for probably two weeks.  I’m also certain I was very, very close to breaking my hip or leg.  It hurt very badly!  By the time I made it home and went to the grocery store, there were few batteries and there was absolutely no salt.

Fast forward to 18 months ago and on up to today.  I now have several small children and my wife stays at home with them.  My youngest is a couple months old and I can NOT afford to lose heat in the winter.  Going without power at home would be a severe inconvenience.  And, surfing my driveway is not something that I’d ever like to do again.
So, after the kids were asleep and after warning her I wanted to talk to her about something, I approached my wife with a perspective something like this:
When I think of events or bad things that could happen to us, I see a sliding scale of possibilities.  On the one hand, we have lost power for 8 days before.  Also, I have slipped on the ice in the driveway and been severely hurt.  On one end we have a Jesus Apocalypse and he takes us home!  In between, there are threats of varying degree.  Maybe it would look something like this:


Rapture – Definitely going to happen!  Do you know Christ?  Does He know you?
Ice Storm
Power Outage
No Water
Fire, tornado, flooding
Rioting or Civil Unrest
Injury or illness (no income for period of time)
Natural death (no income for family)
Outbreak (it’s happened before!  The first flu virus killed more people than the war!)
Nuclear Meltdown (do you know how many nuclear power plants we have in the U.S.?  Ever heard of Chernobyl?  How about Japan in 2011?)
War on domestic soil
EMP/Chemical/Nuclear Attack
Rapture – Still going to happen!  Not sure when though?

So, I explained this sliding scale to her.  Change the sliding scale to reflect additional possibilities for your area (earthquake, tsunami, flood, volcano, hurricane, proximity to nuclear power plants, family situation)  Some of them are very likely to occur and some of them are absolutely absurd.  Some of them are more or less severe.  I do not think that I will die within the next 20 years, but if I do, I have a large term life insurance policy that helps me sleep at night and my wife knows the ONLY person that I trust to help her financially if I die.  That person is in her cell phone and we have had a mock “Hubby is dead.  Now what?” meeting because I absolutely demanded it.  Sorry, but I’m a financial advisor by trade.  The thought drives me mad that she wouldn’t know what to do when I’m gone or someone would bamboozle her into doing something foolish with the money.  I’ve also inoculated her against various financial instruments that I think are more about the advisor being greedy than it being good for the client!

…back on track.  So on the More Likely end I want to go out and get some salt for the driveway.  I’d like to get some spare batteries and flashlight bulbs and candles in case the power goes out.  I’d like to get a cheap kerosene heater and some kerosene in case the heat goes out because we have little ones.
We’re not being crazy.  We’re just being smart.  The next time the power goes out we’ve seen multiple times now that it’s too late to buy batteries!  When there is an ice storm it is too late to buy salt!

So, in 18 months’ time on a modest income for a family with several small children, I’ve tried to be very strategic with my purchases because I can’t just go buy everything out there that I want.  Also, I started this venture explaining to my wife how very, extremely, yet simply reasonable I was being.  Many of you are probably locked and loaded and lardered but others of you have yet to get started.  I went searching around online and found this list: http://www.thepowerhour.com/news/items_disappearfirst.htm and started from there.
From nothing, now we have:
6 buckets (for all sorts of things including toilet)
A few axes and hatchets
Tons of batteries, candles, extra flashlights, and extra bulbs
Kerosene heater and 10 gallons of kerosene (in the detached shed)
20 gallons of gasoline with stabilizer in it (in the detached shed)
Several boxes worth of non-perishable canned and jarred goods from the store (it’s what I first started with as far as food is concerned…but it will go bad throughout 2013-2014)
360 servings of www.preparewise.com food.  You can get a sample pack first.  You can also substitute meals you don’t like for ones that you do.  I took out spicy foods and added a few extra gluten-free.  We have a friend that can’t eat gluten so in the event that we take on refugees…   This was very expensive and I only recently bought it, but I know that since it lasts for 25 years it is actually the cheapest over time.

I’m writing this on 12/14/2012. In the event that people are idiots on 12/21 I went ahead and grabbed the next 6 weeks’ worth of non-perishables that I would normally buy in the store that we WILL USE and put them in boxes in the garage.  I just walked the aisles and grabbed things that I KNOW will be on the next 6 weeks of grocery lists.
So as far as food is concerned I think I probably have 3-4 months saved up so far for my family.  Less with feeding friends or refugees.
A big berkey water filter – http://www.bigberkeywaterfilters.com/
2 Water bob’s – http://www.waterbob.com/Welcome.do for our 2 tubs
Several bags of salt for the driveway
A few guns and about 4,000 rounds of ammo (the ammo was bought slowly over time whenever I get groceries and I also made one major purchase online with a friend)
Two-way radios

I also have plans to move to a friend’s farm if necessary for food.  I have plans to hole-up with another friend that lives a few blocks away if necessary for security.  I’ve spoken to 5 families and my parents who are all like-minded and have talked about supporting each other if something bad happens.

All of these purchases (with the exception of the excess quantity of ammo) are all very easily explained as to what they would be useful for.  They are extremely practical and would be helpful if we lost access to power, water, or food.  My wife says she doesn’t like talking about this stuff and it makes her feel a sense of panic.  However, she’s glad that I’m doing something and knows that I desire to help and protect the family.  She’s given me a designated survival pallet in the garage!  I also have some space upstairs in the office.  The guns and ammo HAVE to be locked away, but with small kids I’m totally fine with that.

I’m not ready for the apocalypse.  I do, however, have a loving spouse that understands what I’m doing and I am ready for the power to go out on us.  I’m ready for an ice storm.  I’m ready if we lose water in the house as long as I can get to the river nearby.  I don’t need to worry if there’s a long line at the gas station.  I don’t need to worry if we lose heat in the middle of winter.
I hope that this will help someone else who is now like I was 18 months ago starting from Square One.  I hope that this will help you talk to someone, using the Sliding Scale of Possibilities, and get them to understand that you’re simply “Being Prepared” as the Boy Scouts say.  If you can’t explain it, maybe you can show this article to your loved one and just ask them for their thoughts and feedback?

Thank you all, again, for giving me so many ideas and so much good information!!!  This is by far the best survivalist blog I’ve found on the Internet.  (and I’m a 7th Degree Google Ninja)
Grace & Peace in Christ, – Mr. Reasonable Ohio