Saving Your Marriage for the End of the World – Part 1, by Cottage Mom

Could there be a greater, more important survival topic than building a stronger marital union, which is the bedrock of civilization? This topic reminds me of a young man I once spoke with. He noticed a young lady and heard the Lord telling him that she was to marry him. Even though he barely knew her, he intended to declare God’s will to her, go to the altar, check off the wife box on his bucket list, and move on, clueless to the reality that winning her is a journey. I counseled him that he was trying to barge in, uninvited, through the front door, and would most likely be refused. What he needed to do was enter her heart through the back door—the door good friends use—and the door of romance, and the pursuit of her over time.

In like manner, since I became aware of the survival community, I have read many stories of those who awaken to the idea of prepping, and unfortunately, come barging in through their spouse’s front door, not realizing the spouse feels as though his/her life is being turned upside down with either shocking tales and fear for the future, or the fact that their spouse has gone wacko. Instead of approaching the gargantuan-sized project of survivalism by the back door of wisdom, consideration, and understanding, the green prepper approaches the subject without tact and an understanding of how his/her spouse is wired. Then, they are surprised when they are rebuffed by their spouse’s hostility and refusal to follow along. They lament how their adversarial spouse will just not get on board; they become a house divided, and some of the tales I have read actually ended in divorce.

Dear Prepping Brother or Sister, if your marriage turns cold or ends over YOUR prepping activities, you have missed the point of preparation in the first place. The purpose of prepping is to take care of your closest loved ones with wisdom and protection, not to hurt them and drive them away. Prepping should make your life better in the long run, not worse.

FWIW, I too, have a Prep-Adverse Spouse who alternates between support and mockery, interest and anger, being gung-ho and being ashamed. It is not easy to navigate his emotional landscape, but the challenge my spouse and your spouse presents is in itself an opportunity to hone our survival skill of human relations. So, instead of being frustrated by your life partner, see him/her as a gift to further develop your human relations survival skills.

If you are hitched to a spouse, here is my suggested route to embark on your prepping journey:

  1. Your First Preparation Should Be Spiritual

    “Wisdom is the principal thing;

    Therefore get wisdom.

    And in all your getting, get understanding.

    Exalt her, and she will promote you;

    She will bring you honor, when you embrace her.” – Proverbs 4:7 & 8

    Can you hear wisdom imploring you to prepare by storing up as much of her as you can? So often we read our Bible, but its truth does not sink in and leave its mark. “In all your getting, get understanding.” Preppers, I have seen list after list of items to stockpile, but I have never seen “understanding,” on even one of them. Most of us have not heard God’s audible voice telling us to stockpile buckets of grain, and thus we experience a lack of certainty as to whether we should fill our storerooms or simply trust God for those future times; but there is no lack of certainty when it comes to wisdom! We have His clear written word telling us something we can safely stockpile with no double-mindedness: wisdom and understanding.

    Would any of your prep-adverse spouses throw a fit if you were to be the wisest one in your circle of friends and relatives? Would your spouse chafe at how deeply you have studied and understood him/her, and how expertly you navigate the geography of your marriage landscape, creating not discord, but through wisdom, build a bond that holds firm when all else may be shaken? Of course not!

    How do you get wisdom? This can be an in-depth topic, but for brevity’s sake: The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom. I define the “fear of the Lord” as knowing that there is a Creator God who is watching all you do and will hold you accountable for your actions once you die. If you have the awareness of a final judgment, it will drive you to seek salvation through Jesus, then to study the Bible, and all other God-ordained sources of wisdom. Other sources of wisdom are prayer (asking for wisdom), faith (believing God will grant it), as well as seeking for it through multiple sources as though it were gold coins and precious gems, including: counsel from experts and associates (I count reading and classroom instruction as a form of counsel); personal life experience; observation of the natural world, history, and human nature; asking questions and having discussions; Biblical meditation and pondering; and finally, direct guidance from the Holy Spirit.

    In the case of your spouse, having regular conversation together can be a fountain of wisdom as to what delights and motivates versus what will offend him/her.

    The other key area of spiritual preparation is to make sure you are praying with and for each other daily (which happens to aid greatly in the next point as well).

  2. Enrich Your Bond with Your Spouse

    As a preliminary remark, imho, the only time you cannot succeed in enriching your marriage is when your spouse has a serious addiction. Addictions require targeted, professional, and experienced assistance. If you are in that circumstance, you are already in a survival situation of your own and need to address that before piling anything else on top of it.

    Otherwise, if your marriage is having trouble or maybe just limping along, your priority prep should be to build a good marriage first. Marriage counseling is outside the scope of this article—suffice it to say, locate the help that you need and if your marriage doesn’t get stronger, keep searching for more help until you figure out what works. Don’t give up until you and your spouse are bonded together in love. It is true you may never get there, but never give up trying. I recommend MarriageBuilders principles.

    To get you started, here are three key ways you can enrich your bond with your spouse:

    1. Spend at least 15 hours per week or more of nurturing, undivided attention with your spouse. This is not time together merely in the same house or car. It is spending time in a way that is enjoyable for both parties—find what you both can do together that is enjoyable for both of you. Do not drag your spouse along to something you like but your spouse only endures.

      With a busy lifestyle, and especially during childrearing, it may seem impossible to get these hours in, and then, once you set time aside, it may seem impossible to actually make them enjoyable instead of fighting with each other. Regardless, stick with the program and do not give up because practice makes perfect; yes, it takes practice to have enjoyable time together, and it is a process to discover what activities you both can enjoy at the same time.

    2. Learn what things delight your spouse and do those things regularly, while keeping in mind, your spouse’s needs might be very different from yours. (For him, the bedroom may matter most; for her, it may be conversation.) These also can change over time. Simply stated: make your spouse’s life sweet.
    3. Learn what things you do or don’t do that hurt your spouse and stop/start doing those things.
  3. You are Both Different for a Reason

    Future-seeing people are different than those who “live in the now.” Yet, both types feel ill-at-ease—they do not feel right, or “comfortable,”–with the other spouse’s viewpoint. It is not a matter of one spouse is right and the other wrong. Both perspectives have their strengths and weaknesses. My spouse’s focus becomes crystal clear during an emergency, but he has a low ability of seeing the long term and actively resists thinking about the future. He is a powerhouse of productivity when at work, fun when at play, and outperforms everyone else (like me) in an emergency whose mental functions seem to freeze up.

    I have learned a lot from observing him, and the importance of this cannot be overemphasized as it even allowed me to save a little child who was choking on candy. As the realization hit the other adults in the room that the toddler was in trouble, they were paralyzed, waiting for someone else to take action. Something of my husband’s role modeling rose up in me, and I swiftly moved to dislodge the candy. This is not my nature but a strength I gained from my spouse, for I would typically be in the paralyzed cadre, thinking through oatmeal sludge before acting. The point is to appreciate and learn from your spouse’s God-given differences.

    Identify and consciously discuss each other’s unique strengths, rather than fight over these differences. Try to adopt the beneficial side of your spouse’s giftings, so that you grow stronger and better. For example, most couples will be comprised of both a “saver,” and a “thrower-away.” The saver will tend to save too much, even to the point of crowding out living space, and the thrower-away will callously injure loved ones by disposing of sentimental or prized possessions. Both spouses have valid feelings that drive them to operate in that mode. They “feel” right in doing what they do, and consequently, “feel” wrong operating in any other mode. These feelings can easily lead to an inner rage at those who encroach, which can lead them to complain against their spouse and seek validation from others, among other negative reactions. Each spouse should find the strength of each perspective and learn from it. In our example above, the saver needs to practice the benefits of letting go; the thrower-away needs to be more understanding.

    Most likely, you, as a prepper, have a future-seeing perspective, while your prep-adverse spouse, probably likes to live in the now without much regard for the future (far-sighted and near-sighted). Whatever the case, find the strengths in your spouse’s perspective and both emulate and validate those strengths. Chances are, if the SHTF, all of what you both have to offer will be needed.

  4. Act with Circumspection Rather than Your Typical Human Nature

    When Queen Esther of the Bible approached her husband King Xerxes with the objective to gain Survival for her people, she didn’t rush the project; she didn’t immediately barge into the throne room with a big mouth and emotional urgency, like most of us would do. She waited and crafted a strategic course of action. She gathered understanding, and by my definition, she is the poster child of taking the back door of courtship. She understood her political landscape. She was patient, yet she did not fail to act. She honored. She captivated. She whetted the king’s curiosity. She so bonded the king to herself; he trusted her and her perspective. Read her story and do likewise.

    Do you wish your spouse were united in your pursuit of preparation? Then wait a while before proposing such a life change to your spouse. Gain a deeper understanding of your spouse: how the mind of your spouse works, his/her upbringing, feelings about money, the future, dreams and plans, and all factors related to the changes you would like to make.

    Take time to know your spouse and how he or she came to have the feelings they have. As a child, I was proud of my grandmother’s canning prowess and drank in the heavenly aroma in her kitchen when a batch of peaches was put up. When I was asked to get a jar of greens beans for dinner that I helped string and snap, I knew a good plate of food awaited and it was a form of security to have so many jars of green beans on the shelf for future dinners. Whereas, in contrast, my spouse’s family regularly laughed at and recoiled in horror at the gruesome-looking contents of their grandmother’s canning jars in her creepy, spidery basement. At home, they were used to food that came in cans with colorful pictures and happy giants on the labels versus their grandmother’s see-through jars featuring food products in unappetizing shapes and hues.

    Can you see how these contrasting childhood experiences made indelible but extremely different impressions on how we both came to view food storage, one positively and the other negatively? I understand how my spouse would react against replicating his negative childhood memories, and need to refrain from triggering that spot in his emotions.

    If you wish to introduce a prepping activity in your home, think through how you can carefully introduce the process as positively as possible. As it is said, “You catch more flies with honey than with vinegar.” I didn’t realize it at the time, but I began my canning endeavors in this way. I brought home a bin of grapes and canned grape juice. It made the house smell wonderful. The jars were filled with a lovely intense purple, and every time we opened a jar, we felt a sense of delight and ownership. Next, I made crabapple jelly that shone ruby-red through the jars, and later I canned fruit from our own trees that left the house scented more wonderfully than any Yankee candle could ever attempt.

    In like manner, think of ways to get your spouse on board without using alarming terms. Introduce buying in quantity as a cost-saving measure rather than “stocking up for the end of the world.” Instead of canning “to prevent starvation,” sell the idea that you are stocking up so that your family can have your secret recipe for pasta sauce, salsa, strawberry jam, or whatever conveniently on hand.

    To sweeten the deal, if you do manage to save some money, one option is to take the savings and buy a gift for your family or spouse. I once bought a quantity of laundry soap on sale and with coupons, which I calculated to have saved me $60.00 over what I normally would have paid. Instead of letting that money fold back into the family budget like I did, you could use it to convince your spouse you are making your lives happier. Prepping should make your life better in the long run not worse.

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3 Responses to Saving Your Marriage for the End of the World – Part 1, by Cottage Mom

  1. Michelle from Canada says:

    Dear Hugh,

    Oh my God! This sounds like a sermon from the pulpit. You may have missed your vocation.

    A lot of spouses are resisting the idea of prepping. I means men and women alike. A solution is to have two husbands. One who preps one who does not. Or two wives. One who preps while the other one……. Now you are getting to know sarcastic Michelle That’s me, Michelle of the quick comeback.

    Hugh, I don’t know if James and you are reading these posts.

    I came from a family where you did as you were told, period. I was given the rules as a child and I followed the rules. That’s it. Instructions were clear.

    There is a lot of begging the spouse to do this and that here. I wonder if James would have a more authoritarian approach about it.

    My advice is don’t go around the bush. Have a plan. Explain it to your spouse. Do it step by step. Spoon feed your partner. Assign one simple thing to do at the time for her. Do this bit by bit. Put her in charge of managing the food supply. Explain to her what you want her to do. Involve your children. Give them a job to.
    Show appreciation. Avoid criticizing. show them how you want it done, and tell your spouse why.

    I know how hard it is. I am in the same situation.

    Sometimes there is another reason why the spouse, man or woman, will not cooperate. It might have to do with the relationship. That is for you to know.

    Michelle from Canada.

    • Hugh James Latimer says:

      @Michelle, One of the most searched for terms on SurvivalBlog is “Divorce”. This is obviously a major concern with much of our readership. I am blessed that my wife and I are of one mind on the issue of prepping, but many marriages are not. Right up there with the lament of struggling while prepping alone or under ridicule from a spouse in many of our articles is the lament of having focused so heavily on prepping that the marriage didn’t survive. Building strong defenses and a bulwark against those that would do us harm includes building strong relationships within the family.

  2. Michelle from canada says:

    Hugh, According to what you are saying, Divorce is a big preoccupation, there.

    Prepping and Divorce?

    I personally do not believe prepping to be the cause of divorce. Some people are using this prepping activity, to avoid talking about the real issues in the relationship that are leading to divorce. There is quite a list of those issues.

    More often then not, people won’t tell the real reason why they choose to end a marriage. They will tell you a fabricated motive instead. Sometimes the prepping is an additional source of conflict, where conflict already exist in a relationship. If one partner is not realistic with his prepping, that, in itself is not a sufficient motive for divorce. But it is a good way to start an argument that needs not to be.

    The real motives of a spouse to marry can be in it itself the roller coaster of a divorce. Some women like the man they will marry, or the man like the girl he will marry, but they are not marrying for the right motives. There are allot of people in that situation.

    Some people come from families where they don’t divorce and this for generations. Today, these people take a long time to marry.

    Some people have unrealistic expectations. Because of this they are impossible to satisfy. The refusal to see reality is another issue. At first glance people make goo goo eyes at each other, until reality sets in, and they realise it’s not what they wanted. There are circumstances in life, that make the realization of a project of marriage impossible to succeed. Denying it, won’t make it work miraculously. Some people do not take the commitment seriously. They are eternal teenagers. Sometimes one of the spouses need to be managed by the other. And it has to be done right..

    To maintain harmony, we have to think ahead and avoid conflict. We are flexible in our relationships, not dogmatic, and believe me, this can save quite a few marriages.
    Coming to an agreement, is more important then winning an argument. It is easy to agree when you ear what pleases you. It is when you disagree, you have to be flexible.
    Sometimes sticking to your guns is the right thing to do. So could this be about doing the right thing at the right time. It looks like it.

    The real motive of separation is, when the two party do not find their needs satisfied in the relationship. This can happen at different levels. Some people have a rigid attitude, others are more flexible. Some are aggressive and uncompromising, they will not even recognise common sense, they want their way, no matter what. That works well if you marry a doormat who will .say ok, all the time. I prefer common sense.

    Finances is as they say, one of the most important motive of divorce. Constant dispute about money issues, will eventually lead to a greater risk of divorce. Sometimes it can be avoided by better financial planning, If one spouse shoes real talent in managing money, let that person manage the finances and look and learn how he or she is doing this, so you can do it to. Find counsel from someone who has proven to be good at this, and ask for advice. Never stay completely outside of money management. You have to know where your money is spent. This is part of being an adult.

    Money and married life goes together. Family cost. It is important not to try to chew more than you can. People don’t have small families because they don’t like children. They have small families of two children because this is what they can afford. My great-grand-mother had sixteen children, but they could afford it. They were very comfortable financially and she had no problem having children. Those were the days.

    If the relationship is working well, and common sense and planning are part of the plan, prepping should not be a problem.

    Practical Prepping
    Create a prepping budget. Allocate founds for your prepping project. Make a list of what you need by category. Food, medical, transportation, defense, fuel, tools, practical how to books. Once your list is done, think of how to cut down cost by buying on sale, buying in large quantities, having proper containers and methods to keep food from spoiling. It is nice to buy this food but if it spoils or eaten by rodents, you are not ahead. Have a rotation system of your food eat what you store and store what you eat. Canned food can be part of it. Food that will keep for years, and produces from your garden if you can.

    Give a dose of reality to your family members. Do not sugar coat it, when it comes to why prepping is essential. Give your family members a motive to cooperate. Make it a family project with a part to play for each member of the family.

    No you are not prepping for the end of the world. You are prepping to have six month of food and other necessities in case of layoff. .If this does not ring a bell, nothing will. If you enjoy your job for the next 20 years even better, you are six month ahead. You are prepping looking at possible scenario, like hurricane, tornados, flooding, ice storm, depending of the area where you live. Prepping in terms of resources is similar, in terms of event it differs a bit. From there you can expend your prepping to a year and so on.

    In other word, if you can’t pay the rent and you don’t have two months of food, do you plan to live with your family in your car? It exist in America today. You don’t believe me? Take a look at this.

    you tube-Full-Time Worker, Living in a Car
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9Q0emNEcAkU

    This should give you enough motivation to prepare.
    Prepping is something you plan first, then you spend. Not the reverse.

    I hope I gave you enough motivation to prepare.

    Hugh, you can give me feed back if you wish. It is helpful.

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