Prepping With A Reluctant Partner
The third contribution in our new Resilience Spotlight series, featuring stories from Peak Prosperity readers, comes from macro2682. It centers on the challenge of prepping when your partner does not share the same urgency/outlook as you.
I graduated in 2004 with an engineering degree from a great school, but was lured into finance by a fascination with economics and a strong desire to be “rich.”
Rich people have the flexibility to pursue their dreams and ideas. They have control over their time and can spend more of it with their kids, which they will certainly have because rich people don’t have any problems attracting women.
I settled bonds for a few years to earn my stripes, then got into institutional sales working for a $100B investment firm. I put in 80hr weeks, and never said no to ‘one more drink’ when good networking came up.
In 2008/9 my boss and co-worker were fired and I was given the reins. A few years of continued effort and I had everything I wanted.
I had been a closeted Malthusian since college, but the crash course helped solidify my perspective. I’ve been going to industry conferences for the last decade, carefully talking about my concerns when the cocktails come out. The industry is NOT unaware.
I would always stop short of talking about owning actual gold (which I did). Owning gold is disrespectful to the industry and is grounds for shunning. It’s like an Abercrombie employee coming to work wearing a turtleneck. Not cool bro.
I’m a social butterfly; I met my wife in a bar in my late 20s. She was my polar opposite, shy and attractive.
She hates being on time to things because she doesn’t want to be early, standing there alone “looking stupid.” She is crippled by anxiety. Learning that I owned some gold (and why) made her almost sick to her stomach it seemed. I own less than 10oz, but am not allowed to buy more. She has no financial background, and no knowledge (or interest) in learning about my concerns. She doesn’t want to be different, she doesn’t want people to think we are weird, and SHE doesn’t want to think people WOULD think we are weird (that wasn’t an error).
So I prepare in secret, and to a significantly lesser extent than I would like.
I own a very small amount of gold and silver (5% of net worth). I have other protective exposures in my brokerage accounts (mining, bitcoin, and some others, along with more traditional allocations in case we get an equity blowoff).
I have a giant mortgage on a property that is doomed. It’s currently worth 20% more than I paid, but that will change when Chicago finally runs out of money (credit). I save a high percentage of my income which is very good. I make enough to live downtown comfortably with my wife at home (we have a toddler and another one due any minute).
My prepping has to always be camouflaged from my wife by everyday motives:
I want to buy a vacation house in MI, but what I really want it as a place to take my family when things go south.
I bought two way radios for a ski trip, but I keep them with extra batteries in a shoebox made into a faraday cage.
I have about a month’s worth of bottled water, but I tell my wife that I just prefer to buy in bulk.
Every time I need to fix something, I buy the right tools and fix it myself (I just fixed a Mophie phone charger with a soldering iron). I have a storage until it full of tools.
I have 3 different methods to heat my house (gas fireplace, electric heaters, and gas forced air heat pump).
I have a car that I keep topped off with enough gas to get to my in-laws.
I have a separate brokerage account that I use to buy levered hedges for the standard-looking portfolios we keep elsewhere. I already talked about the gold/silver (I use goldmoney.com for half of this exposure as well).
Deep down my wife knows what I’m doing (although she’d better not find that shoebox). I do think it makes her uncomfortable and resentful, but I don’t think she can complain. She has a husband who loves her, helps with the kid(s), cleans, makes good money, and let’s her spend it on whatever she wants.
And most of all, she has a husband who is willing to live with profound discomfort, avoiding the life changes he knows are necessary to protect his family, in order for his wife to avoid some social anxiety.
I’m 35. On track to retire at 45 if things hold together. But if/when it doesn’t, I’ll be slightly better off than average. Maybe if things start getting noticeably worse, my wife will come around and let me do what I need to do. But I’m not holding my breath.
Life will be hard for us if we don’t prepare more. But I couldn’t survive at all without my wife, so I’m sorta stuck…
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The reluctant partner comes in many forms. There's the sort-of-reluctant partner that mainly keeps quiet but does not support .
Then there's the actively resisting partner that scowls and questions and puts up road blocks ("no, you can't spend money on that.")
There's also the hostile partner that is actively against prepping and may even leave you if you persist, so you have to hide everything.
The reasons for such behaviors are many, but the tactics and strategies for dealing with them are the same; compassion, understanding and not approaching from a position of emotional agitation (whatever that emotion may be).
This is a topic we cover pretty extensively at Rowe. So please come if this is a particular issue for you in your life.
If I had to say, probably one of the largest and most important functions of Rowe is aligning couples who don't see eye to eye…and it's *not* a process of getting them to see things your way…it's a meeting in the middle.
We've helped, if not saved more than one struggling relationship! 🙂
Thanks for sharing, macro. First off, I'm blessed to have a partner who totally shares my concerns, and we are moderately well prepped. I'm very fortunate for that (Love you, Honey!) Your story caused me to think of a couple things. First, sand_puppy just posted a story of how many of his co-workers came out of the "prepper closet". Powerful story. The other thing was the article in The Atlantic, I think, last month of the very rich guys prepping with their bug-out homes and bunkers and Gulfstreams. Pretty mainstream coverage there. With time, and possible input from friends and acquaintances,perhaps your wife will be exposed to the idea that being prepared is just a good idea and, in these times, perhaps a parent's primary responsibility. A hearty congrats on the stealth prepping you've been able to accomplish so far! Good luck, you're doing the right thing and your wife and kids will thank you for it in the future. Aloha, Steve.
I enjoyed the book "Tribulation" by Thomas A. Lewis. In the novel, the protagonist's wife is NOT on board with all of the preparations, especially the 300-acre escape farm and the "tribe" of like minded people who decide to prep together. In the end, he has to…. Oh – you gotta read the book!
In an old romantic novel that takes place during the French Revolution, the main characters are husband and wife leading two different lives. The Scarlet Pimpernel outwardly is a wealthy social fop. His wife suspected but never appreciated his ‘hidden’ life until she secretly follows him into France on a daring rescue mission. It ends well.
The tensions of a marriage can usually be resolved as the passage of time reveals the deeper integrity of love and protection that are the foundation of a family. Keeping a marriage alive and well is a lifelong work of art. Gentle but persistent preparation for unexpected hardship is at its root not a fetish, but love in the face of a headwind. Being prepared is not store bought but made by hand. Being prepared for when the pain of insecurity actually erupts in society is a priceless treasure you are creating day by day. I’m betting that Noah felt tensions with family until the deluge began. Thanks for sharing your experiences that resonate so deeply in many of our lives.
Thanks for posting!
I agree with Thatchmo that prepping is becoming a little more mainstream now as things continue to unravel and people like Chris continue to spread information. That billionaire bunker show was great.
But shifting baselines will guarantee that people like my wife will never change their mind.
It's like when Marty McFly went back in time and told Doc about the 80's. Best line in the movie: "Ronald Regan… the actor?!" People that are living through history are incapable of seeing its lunacy. They're too close to the screen, and context has a short half life.
Imagine if you went back in time to 2011, and told yourself that the US would lose its AAA credit rating, elect Donald Trump as president, and formally accuse Russia of successfully meddling. Your old self would probably move to Canada faster than you could say "Justin Beiber."
But here we all are (the proverbial "we"), accepting the world in which we live, and mocking those increasing numbers of people that are preparing for the calamity that seems so obvious.
I think about 50% of Americans think like we do, 10% take action openly, 10% take action quietly, and 30% are like my wife.
my wife probably won't just come-around when things really get bad. She will probably grow to be depressed/despondent. That's actually something I've added to my list of things to prepare for.
I often remind my wife that the reason God created man first was that he didn't need a second opinion on his handiwork; however, he knew man would. My experience suggests that a dialog in any relationship is essential for synergy to become a reality. If you think YOU have all the bases covered, you probably don't.Gender differences need to be recognized and allowed for to achieve optimum outcomes. Intransigence comes at a cost that will be borne by both parties. Accommodation can alleviate some of acrimony, but nobody said it would be a walk in the park/garden.
I recently listened to a podcast by Jack Spirko at the Survival Podcast recorded specifically for reluctant partners, family, and friends. It's very much worth listening to even if you don't end up sharing it, but he recorded it with the express purpose of it being shared directly to people like this. I would encourage you to have a listen.
Full Version (for you)
Trimmed Version (just for the recipient)
[audio src="http://www.survivalpodcast.net/audio/2016/12-16/1914/case-for-prepping.mp3" /]
I scored in the low 500s on my SAT verbal, so I had to dust off the digital dictionary for that one 😉
I really don't think gender has a whole lot to do with this. Perhaps this type of social anxiety is slightly more common in women, but the delusional forces behind people's path to acceptance is gender neutral…
But while we are sharing fun quotes, I'll reference Jack Nicholson's character in "As Good as it Gets" when describing women: "I think of a man, and I take away reason and accountability". Classic. False;… but classic.
things are definitely changing
I remember when I first started thinking about peak resource and finding great sites like this. Being an ex prosecutor and still working in criminal law, I also started seeing a growing, institutionalized corruption. Ten years ago, you would say something and people would give you the eye, point to some street corner or website and say maybe you'd be more comfortable preaching to them.
These days, it's almost a challenge. I can say the most outrageous thing about corruption, the economy, the state of the planet, Monsanto. or our government and they now say – yeah but what can you do?
Despite everything the pretty folks on TV say, it's almost an animal instinct, and people are smelling the fear