I actually began writing this as an email to a close friend in order to vent my frustrations. After several conversations, I realized that there may be others going through the same struggles, and hopefully what I share can help them.
I think in order to fully understand the situation, I need to share some information about myself as well as my wife. I believe the best way to understand where someone is coming from is to know WHERE they come from. I feel that Eric Haney in his book “Inside Delta Force” captures this best for me:
“The larger part of my family line is made up of the Scots-Irish, a people descended from that peculiar mixture of the Celts of the northern British Isles and the invading Danes and Norsemen. The result was a landless, illiterate, anarchic, and warlike people who were always difficult, if not downright impossible, to govern. They were a race the British Crown rightfully viewed as dangerous rebels, and consequently exiled to the New World by the tens of thousands.
On arrival in the American colonies, these people fled as far as possible from government control, many of them crossing the Blue Ridge Mountains and migrating from there throughout what eventually became the highlands of the southern United States. They were the original “backwoodsmen” of American history.
What did I receive from this lineage? Things I consider to be very valuable: a good raw intellect and a good tough body. A sense of independence and a realization that wherever I am is my home. A sense of humor. A sense of personal honor that results in a touchiness common to our people. We are easily offended and prone to violence when offended. When the only thing you own is your sense of honor, you tend to protect it at all costs.”
To sum it all up, the clan or family was the most important. The members of the family did what they needed to in order to survive. They were hardworking people who relied on no one but each other. There was never any outside assistance, and taking help from the government was almost sinful.
Now my wife’s family would be considered truly middle class. They are skilled workers who live in the semi-rural areas around a midsize city. She’s descended from English settlers who received land grants from the King and who, even today, don’t seem to even think about what is going on outside of their bubble. If it doesn’t affect them, then not much thought is given. Now don’t take this to mean that they are self-centered, as they are hardworking, Christians who will give the shirt off their back to help those around them and actually have done so while working missions. They just prefer to not give much thought to things they feel they can’t change or impact.
I’ve said all this to lay the foundation for the problems I’ve encountered. We were brought up with widely varying views on the world, which I attribute to our family’s past. I distrust outsiders and really anyone not a part of the family clan. I believe you only have yourself and your clan to rely upon; everyone else is a liability. I have an engrained distrust of authority and government, which is ironic since I work for the local government. My wife is more trusting and has called me paranoid many times.
My entry into the world of prepping began back around 2006 when I was finishing college. While I lived at home to save money, my mom and stepdad had moved away from the rest of my family in the hills of North Carolina and the upstate of South Carolina, so I was disconnected from most of my family. I was engaged to my wife at the time, and I was giving serious thought to this big change upcoming in my life. I stumbled across some books that were dystopian in nature and about the U.S. government scrapping the Constitution and turning citizens into subjects. Being a history major with a concentration in U.S. and military history, these appealed to me because at the time I couldn’t see how this could ever happen. My eyes were opened and this whole new world was revealed to me. I began to read as much on any topic that was even remotely related to prepping. That of course led me to this site, and I’ve been a follower ever since.
At the time I didn’t have a full-time job, and the money made from my part-time job went to buy basic necessities and help pay my share of the bills at my parent’s home, which was something I insisted upon doing. What little money I had left, I put away, as I was getting married soon. After my wife and I married in 2008, we were broke. I was four months from starting my full-time job, and we had bought a house together in the fall of 2007 that she lived alone in until we married. We struggled for the next couple of years but I/we refused to rely on anyone other than ourselves to make it work. I still tried to prep when I could, but I mainly relied upon my birthday and Christmas money to score any prepping items.
When I took a new job (and a new career path in LE) in 2010, we started to actually have a savings account. During this time I really started trying to talk more about prepping with my wife. I began small and talked about natural disasters or I would share a news story from somewhere, but I got nothing in return. She said, “God will provide; we don’t need to worry about it.” I changed tactics and used the Bible to try and reinforce my ideas. I tried to use how Noah prepared ahead of time for the flood, but she dismissed that. I then read Prov. 22:3 “The prudent see danger and take refuge, but the simple keep going and pay the penalty.” Once again she said, “God will provide.” While I full heartedly agree that God will provide, I also feel that we are to take responsibility for ourselves. My final Biblical attempt to persuade her was to discuss the “Seven Years of Plenty.” She responded by saying, “when God speaks to you and tells you to store up grain, then you go ahead and do it.” I seized my chance right then and there. I explained that I really did feel that God had called for me to do this. I had never given this any thought and then all of a sudden out of nowhere the whole idea of prepping was revealed to me, and I was filled with such desire that it could only be God-inspired. She relented, slightly and agreed to store away some items, but only a small amount at a time and ONLY if it didn’t get in the way.
I started with canned goods at first, but this didn’t last long. We don’t have a lot of storage space, and they were taking up room in our small pantry. I tried to move them elsewhere, and this created another issue; I was taking up closet space. After reading an article on here, I couldn’t believe I had overlooked the unused space beneath our bed and guest bed. Money became tight again as we had unexpected bills arise, so I backed off of buying canned goods for awhile and shifted my attention elsewhere.
Canning was a common occurrence in my home when I was young. At the time my grandparents were raising me as my parents had divorced. I fondly remember helping my grandmother with this chore many afternoons. My wife and I had started a garden in our backyard and we had excess vegetables. I wanted to can them, but she had no experience with this. Since it had been a while since I had last canned, I called my grandmother and had her walk me through it. When I had finished canning tomatoes, squash, and beans, there was quite a mess in the kitchen. My wife stated she didn’t have time to help, so I had to do everything on my own. She complained about the mess, and it infuriated me. In my mind here I was trying to not only save us some money down the road by canning, but I was trying to look out for our future and all I was getting was grief. I blew up; I couldn’t understand why she couldn’t see things the way that I did. I remember reading all the time on different survival sites about married couples or families prepping together and how they supported each other. I felt like not only was my wife not supporting me, but she was actively trying to interfere with what I was doing. I believed that as the husband, it was my responsibility to provide for the family and to ensure our safety and prosperity and that my wife was to support me in this. When she didn’t, it really put a strain on our marriage. This leads to the next issue and very big mistakes made by me.
Having grown up in the country where I shot my first firearm before I learned to ride a bike, having a firearm (or several) around the house had never been a foreign concept to me. I thought everyone had firearms in their homes. For my wife, this was something new. She had never seen a firearm in person before we were together. I tried to take her shooting, but she refused. When we were married, she didn’t like the idea of guns in the home, but she knew that I was adamant about having one so she didn’t put up too much of a fuss. After the first year when I received one for my birthday and one for Christmas, she said that was enough. Now in my mind, you can never have enough firearms, but we were newly married and I wanted to keep the peace so I compromised and said I wouldn’t get anymore any time soon. I couldn’t afford to buy them anyway, so I didn’t see this as an issue. Fast forward three years; I can afford to purchase more. I bought a small .22 rifle, which caused a huge disagreement. In retrospect, I should have talked to her about it, but as I said, I never saw the issue with firearms so it didn’t occur to me. A few months later, a friend told me someone he knew was selling a Mosin Nagant for $80. My wife and I have a $100 a month limit for purchases without consulting the other. I felt that I was under the limit, so it shouldn’t matter, but I also remembered the argument that ensued with the .22 purchase. This is where I made the first HUGE mistake. I hid the purchase from her. Then I compounded it by lying about it. She asked what I spent the $80 on, and I said odds and ends for around the house. I got away with it, but it caused me to slide down that slippery slope. I made another firearms purchase and many ammo purchases without her knowledge. She found out after using my iPad and seeing an email discussing purchasing an item from someone. She asked me what I had done that day and I lied to cover it up. This caused lots of trust issues in our marriage that I am still trying very hard to overcome and to rebuild that trust.
During this time, I had been talking to a friend of mine who I consider my brother. I had actually given him a copy of JWR’s “Patriots” to read, and he immediately began prepping as well. He was single at the time and able to purchase anything he wanted without someone looking over his shoulder. I was jealous. This increased my frustration with my wife for her lack of support. I decided that I would continue prepping, but I would do so in secret. My friend and I would go in together on purchases, and he would keep them at his house or if I purchased something I would take it to him to store for me. All this did was to keep my lying to my wife about what I was doing.
I’m sure you are wondering how I was able to keep the purchases secret at this point. First, I only dealt in cash. I knew she would see any purchases by our debit card on the statement. I also knew that if I withdrew money, she would know also so I had to find an alternative way to get money. I would barter for many items, but I also did a few small jobs on the side that paid cash. If I got $100 for the job, I would take $50-$60 and put it in the bank and stow away the rest in cash.
In 2012, my wife became pregnant with our first child. This immediately upped my desire to prep. Now, I was not only responsible for myself and my wife, but we were bringing a child into this world who was 100% dependent upon us. I soon realized how expensive a child can be. I came to the conclusion quickly that I wouldn’t be able to continue trying to prep the way that I had.
My friend called me and said he wanted to start storing away dried goods. He said he had read about using old two-liter soda bottles and juice bottles for storage. I had a lot of those every week between the one or two bottles of soda we would drink and the many bottles of juice that we had for my daughter. When we finished the drink, I would rinse the bottle thoroughly and let it air dry. I would then put the cap back on it, and I stored them in boxes in the garage. I had accumulated close to 100 of these bottles. One day I was at work, and my wife was home when her family came over. They went into the garage to look for something, and my wife saw all the bottles. I had actually told her that I was keeping some bottles in the garage to store things in for in the future. I guess she didn’t realize how many I had. When her family asked what they were for, she said that I’m preparing for the end of the world. They laughed and thought it was amusing. My wife became embarrassed by it. She then threw all the bottles away. When I came home, she told me what had happened. I couldn’t believe what she had done. I was so angry with her, and then she said she was tired of all the “stupid prepping”, that I embarrassed her, the only books I read were about prepping or surviving, and that she was done with my lying.
I finally realized what was happening. I was so focused on her not supporting me that I failed to realize that I was causing as much if not more of the tension between us. While my wife was never 100% behind my efforts, her anger over my lying and deception was focused on the issue of prepping. In her mind if I wasn’t so focused on prepping then I wouldn’t have lied or deceived her and then the lack of trust in our marriage wouldn’t be there. The thing is, she’s completely correct. I allowed my frustration with her lack of support to cloud my judgment to the point where I felt it was not only acceptable but, as it was the only way I could continue prepping, the right thing to do. I sat down and seriously thought about what was going on and here is what I came up with:
- I was prepping in order to provide a chance for my family to survive a SHTF scenario.
- I resorted to deception and lying to continuing prepping.
- #2 led to tension in my marriage.
- If left unchecked and something didn’t change, I could see myself losing my family.
- If I lost my family, then the entire reasoning behind prepping was for naught.
The decision I had to make was easy. I stopped actively prepping. I completely stopped talking to my wife and really anyone else about prepping outside of a few very close friends. I decided that we would have to rely on what I had stored to that point and pray for God’s provisions thereafter.
We are now a year later. While I am still not actively prepping, my wife has started to come around. She’s seen how hard I’ve been working to rebuild trust in our marriage. She also feels that her non-support was a contributing factor in my behavior. Regardless of whether or not she supported me, I should not have resorted to lying and deception. We’ve worked hard to rebuild what was lost.
Looking back, I hope that others can see and learn from the mistakes that I made. Yes, my wife did not support my belief that we needed to prepare, but the mistakes I made were of my own doing and actually made things worse instead of better. There is no justification for lying and deception in any relationship. Maybe one day I’ll begin to actively prep again. Maybe one day God will open my wife’s eyes the way he did mine. Maybe one day I’ll be able to send in another letter about how things have changed, but if that day doesn’t come I’ll sleep well knowing that I saved my marriage, saved my family, and I still have a few preps put aside for a rainy day. Hopefully, the family clan can pull together, as we have done for centuries, look out for one another, and get through the dark days to come.