Saving Your Marriage for the End of the World – Part 2, by Cottage Mom

Today, we continue the second portion of this three part article. Yesterday, we read that 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. If you are hitched to a spouse, here are my continued suggestions for embarking on your prepping journey:

  1. Don’t Play Tug-of-War Over Prepping or Anything Else; Instead, Negotiate

    This is human nature at its most counter-productive, but it is hard to identify when the tug-of-war begins to happen. Who sincerely changes their mind because they are strong-armed into it? Once the war is triggered, emotions rush in and cloud everyone’s judgment. Destructive words and tones are used. Embrace the attitude of “I want to work together with you; I’m on your side, and I’m not getting pulled into fighting with you,” and repeat that mantra to yourself until it becomes your nature. While in a conflict, pause, mature, and take a step back to look at the conflict as a disinterested third party, and then take two steps down in your emotional reactions so you stay cool-headed and in control. If you do this, you are in a position to sow words of peace, and create solutions that can work for both of you.

    Learn how to negotiate with one another. Conflict (embraced correctly) does not mean one spouse wins and the other spouse loses. Figure out solutions that make both of you happy. When at a crossroads, spouses should ask themselves, “What elements can make this decision a happy experience for me?” As an example, say one spouse wants to spend Christmas out-of-town with her family, but that will ruin the holiday for you. Instead of begrudgingly complying or obstinately refusing, gain understanding into why this is a negative experience for you and address those issues. Then brainstorm all the other possibilities that you could enthusiastically agree to. Perhaps what you really don’t like about going out-of-town is all the driving. Could flying make a difference? Maybe you hate the backbreaking mattress you have to sleep on, and sleeping at a hotel or bringing your own air mattress might help. Think of alternatives. Perhaps the day of Christmas could be spent at home and the following weekend could be spent with the in-laws. Or, maybe you agree to the out-of-town trip in exchange for scheduling another weekend to do exactly what you want to do. A good negotiation leaves both parties happy and actually enthusiastic about the result (not just a lackluster result one can merely tolerate); it pulls you both together, rather than driving a wedge between you.

    With prepping, the tug-of-war is over issues like how to allocate limited household funds, how to allocate space in the home, how to spend time. If you have invested in Point 2 above, negotiations over these things should go far more smoothly because one of the characteristics of a well-bonded marriage is generosity towards one another and a disposition to make the other happy.

    Before you discuss an issue, however, don’t just dive in impulsively. Consider your approach; have a plan. Think through what you want, and what you can offer. For example, if money is tight, is there a way you can earn extra or save money to offset the purchases you would like to make? Are there free windfall opportunities you can take advantage of, such as a relative who has too much garden produce? If space is a problem, can you reorganize, build shelves, or exchange current furniture pieces for those with storage capacity? If time is an issue, barter with your spouse—“I’ll do the activity of your choice for every hour I spend at [blank].” Can you think of ways to accomplish more than one thing at the same time? For example, landscaping with edibles can reduce lawn maintenance in the long run; it’s a wholesome activity one can do with children if they are old enough; and it will provide nutritious food in the future.

    As an example from my situation, I wanted to store extra fuel, and my spouse is averse to storing anything. However, we get gas points from grocery shopping, and merely fueling our vehicle does not take full advantage of our potential discount. I convinced my spouse that taking a couple of gas cans along would save us more money, and then it turned out, those gas cans have often come in handy as a time-saving measure when our cars are low on gas and we don’t have to time to hit the gas station. This is just one small area of our lives that serves three purposes– save money, save time, and extra fuel on hand.

    Whenever you have a successful negotiation (and not just for prepping), I recommend putting a “cherry on top.” What I mean is, make sure to praise your spouse, praise how well you work together, and celebrate that success in some fashion. By celebrate, it can be as little as a high five, a kiss, or (depending on what you worked through) it can be more than that– a love note, gift, or dinner out. Businesses celebrate deals like this all the time, so why not in your marriage? I think it is even worth documenting as a reminder during those times when future negotiating waters get rough. I would venture that most couples never learn how to successfully negotiate, but every successful negotiation fortifies your marriage bond and makes you a team, and in this age of rampant divorce, that is worth celebrating!, depending on what you worked through: a toast of your glasses or even rewarding your spouse with.

  2. Prepare in Ways that Make your Spouse Proud Rather than Embarrassed

    In general, there are prepping activities that are out of the mainstream and will incite shame in your mainstream-groomed spouse, and there are prepping activities that are admired and will be welcomed if you only use the correct terms instead of what your spouse might consider “wacko” terms. If, after you have studied and understood your spouse, you realize you have one that is prep-adverse, begin with the most admired prepper activities first.

    As you begin your prepping journey use familiar terminology, and gradually introduce other more radical activities after gaining your spouse’s enthusiasm and respect. For example, living within your means and acquiring savings is a respected activity, while also being a prepping activity. Conversely, digging holes in the backyard and planting five gallon buckets of grain in them is not.

    Even still, you should not IMPOSE any preparations on your spouse but rather gain your spouse’s buy-in and participation. Even with respectable prep activities, don’t begin by choosing one that will upset and threaten your spouse right off the bat. It is respectable to adopt a budget, but if you two have been arguing about money since the day you were married, that is not where you should begin to prep.

    Before moving on, let’s review the three above points:

    1. Prepare in ways that make your spouse proud rather than embarrassed.
    2. Do not IMPOSE even the mildest of preparations on your spouse.
    3. Do not begin even “mainstream” or “respectable” preparations if they involve emotionally sensitive areas for your spouse.
  3. Most Prepping Activities can be Termed Under these Non-Alarmist Categories:

    • Household Management
    • Financial Management
    • Health
    • Hobby & Recreational

    Is anyone, even the most mainstream-groomed person, going to argue against improving one’s household, financial, or health management? So instead of using terms like TEOTWAWKI, use those.

    Certainly, spouses might argue about hobbies or recreational pursuits, specifically about the money/time they cost, but they generally do not consider you crazy if you have a desire to take up a hobby. If you start by enriching your bond with your spouse and also gradually delve into a hobby (that also serves your TEOTWAWKI ends incognito), chances are, your spouse will come around to being receptive and even encouraging.

  4. Suggestions for Ways that You Can Prepare in Plain Sight that Won’t Upset Your Spouse:

    (Obviously there is some overlap between these categories, and the list could be longer, but these are ideas to get you started)

    Household Management

    • Hold regular devotions in the home.
    • Memorize scripture.
    • Sing spiritual songs.
    • Create a home maintenance manual.
    • Create a FEMA-informed emergency binder. (For example, “How to turn off the natural gas valve.”)
    • Hold fire drills.
    • Check fire alarms and extinguishers.
    • Practice negotiating skills with your spouse on non-survival related topics.
    • Reduce waste.
    • Recycle.
    • Purge and organize home storage areas.
    • Add security features to your home and property.
    • Make needed repairs.
    • Keep vehicles maintained.
    • Keep pets up to date on rabies shots.
    • Organize pet records.
    • Adopt a one-in-use, one-in-storage system.
    • Find ways to add extra supplies and equipment without labeling them as “end-of-the-world supplies.” (For example, stock up on extra blankets for use when children’s friends sleep over, or in order to add an extra one to each vehicle during winter weather.)
    • Develop beneficial skills.
    • Do a time study and increase your productivity.

    Financial Management

    • Adopt a budget, spending, and savings plan.
    • Complete your estate plan.
    • Adopt a retirement plan.
    • Organize important documents.
    • Review and update insurance policies.
    • Reduce and eliminate debt.
    • Keep cash in the home.
    • Stretch spending through sales shopping, couponing, and buying in bulk.
    • Buy non-perishable consumables during sales, which saves money and time and enables stocking up.
    • Make your own household products to save money.
    • Increase energy efficiency.
    • Sell excess stuff (eBay, yard sales, et cetera).

    Health

    • Begin/increase fitness training.
    • Become current on all health appointments, and take care of any needed medical/dental procedures.
    • Increase nutritional eating. Trying to eat healthier will naturally dovetail with storing larger quantities of food. For example, purchasing organic, grass-fed beef at a reasonable price can involve buying and storing a fractional part of a cow.
    • Purchase food at farmer’s markets.
    • Update your first aid kit.
    • Take a first aid/CPR class.
    • Study alternative remedies.
    • Purchase quality shoes.
    • Cook nutritious, TEOTWAWKI-friendly recipes, like bean soup.
    • Make your own baking and seasoning mixes to leave out harmful chemicals.
    • Buy small quantities of freeze-dried foods to use in cooking or making your own mixes. This may help acclimate your spouse to food in this form.
    • Cook in quantity and freeze extras, to keep the family from resorting to fast food.
    • Learn food preservation of your own garden produce.

    Hobbies/Recreational Interests

    • Start a hobby, such as coin collecting, in order to procure some nickels and silver.
    • Pursue a TEOTWAWKI-useful, but spouse-approved, hobby– quilting, fishing, hunting, et cetera.
    • Delve into pioneer skills.
    • Get involved in 4H activities with your children.
    • Build a play fort.
    • Go camping.
    • Acquire knowledge in topics related to survival.
    • Store books with survival value.
    • Download free and store useful information.
    • Have a read-aloud family time with TEOTWAWKI-value classics, like Robinson Crusoe, Swiss Family Robinson, or books that tell of real–life survival, like The Hiding Place.
    • Learn new skills as family projects or recreation.
    • Start a garden.
    • Plant fruiting plants and trees.
    • Preserve food in “respectable” quantities– quantities that do not alarm your spouse. It is doubtful that any spouse would dispute if you dried your own fresh herbs or preserved produce from your own garden. Also, you could go berry picking. However, do not foist this work upon your spouse; either get enthusiastic agreement or do it all yourself.
    • Once you have prepped all you can prep in those above categories, you will have obtained an enviable amount of preparation, and then you can attempt a conversation about acquiring a deeper, long-term larder, or some other mainstream-adverse prepping activity. Make sure you use wisdom when broaching these topics.
  5. Capitalize on Your Spouse’s Interests

    If you are creative, you can dovetail your prepping interests with your spouse’s non-prepping interests and your spouse will go along with you. Most people like to think of themselves as fair and non-selfish, so if your spouse has an interest, even one you consider frivolous, you can encourage it while at the same time negotiate some of your prepping requirements. (Hint: Don’t call them “prepping” requirements.) Chances are, your spouse’s desire to be fair will lead him/her to acquiesce to your desires. Here are some examples of how you can take even the most non-prepping interest and make it into a preparatory activity.

    Say your spouse wants a well-decorated home. In your thinking, this is a waste of resources that should be dedicated to more worthy items. What’s the best solution? Define a budget together, and when it comes to something like window treatments, insert energy efficiency or black-out capability to the list of requirements. When purchasing furnishings, negotiate for those with storage capabilities. Here are some other ideas:

    • Say your spouse likes a fashionable wardrobe—negotiate quality winter wear.
    • Golf—take up golfing too; it is good exercise and skill development.
    • Spas—you go too; after your workout a massage will feel great. Also, while your spouse is interested in beautifying the outside, make a case to your spouse that growing and storing your own organic power foods will beautify from the inside out.
    • Jewelry—set aside a few of your own pieces as another form of currency.
    • Adding a deck—learn carpentry skills; gain valuable tools; a place to use your solar oven; wood you can re-purpose to board up your home if/when the SHTF.
    • Movies—negotiate watching some survival flicks.
    • Couch potato—negotiate that part of the time on the couch has to be spent your way–reading good books, listening to quality audios, or watching quality videos. Or better yet, negotiate that every hour on the couch has to be earned by an hour of physical activity.

    Can you see it’s almost a game of how you can turn an area of conflict around into something survival-related? As an extra benefit, practicing these mental games regularly will serve to sharpen problem-solving skills for TEOTWAWKI.

    Yet, chances are, not all of your spouse’s interests are diametrically opposed to prepping and can be an asset should the SHTF. Do not discount these but encourage and maximize them.

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