Family Survival: The Spouse

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By Joel Jefferson •  6 min read

When thinking about “Family Survival” it is important to have your spouse on board with the emergency plan and emergency preparedness. Here are some ideas to get you started talking with your spouse about emergency preparedness. 

Common Themes Among Non-Preppers

Over the years I have discovered several things about the non-survivalist by talking with friends, relatives as well as my wife her and network of friends.  Male or Female, there are a few common themes among people who do not prepare.



This is a trait that is hard to believe in this day and age post 9/11 and Katrina but it does still happen.  It usually takes the form of “They” will take care of us.  “They” are usually the government (Federal, State, Local) but it could also be international groups or charities.

I know a gentleman who never thought about preparedness until FEMA said to have a 3 day supply of food and water on hand for emergencies.

Now he has started doing this but won’t hear of having more than a 7 day supply of preparedness products.  Unfortunately Hurricane Katrina was not enough to prove to him that the government cannot always be there to help you and everyone should take emergency preparedness a little more seriously.


This trait is perhaps the most difficult to overcome. Grasshopper and the Ant tale; The Ant works all spring, summer, and fall to prepare for the winter while the grasshopper spends his time in the sun enjoying every minute of it thinking the good weather will last forever.  “I won’t sacrifice today’s pleasure for the possibility of future return.” This often results in denial of the coming shortage or disaster.


This trait takes a unique form, I saw it in adults when I was just a kid. The world would be so horrible after a “Nuclear War” that I wouldn’t want to survive, therefore I won’t. This is a tough nut to crack since despair often doesn’t respond to reason.


Fear often looks like despair but is much easier to deal with because all hope has not been lost. People are often afraid to put together a plan or talk things out with their family or spouse because they afraid to think of the possibilities and don’t have answers to the issues they will be facing in a “Family Survival” situation.

The truth is…none of us have all the answers.  We can only prepare so much and the rest will be left up to being able to improvise during a disaster or TEOTWAWKI.


This can often takes the form of “It can’t happen here because this is the United States (or Canada)”  or “Things like that only happen in 3rd world countries.”

But it could happen here and because of our society’s reliance on electricity & oil….things could be much worse. In 3rd world countries people are used to going without and they are used to living off the basics. In modern countries, a disruption in everyday conveniences such as electricity could cause wide spread panic.

How to talk with your Spouse

Schedule a Meeting (Yearly, Twice a Year, Quarterly)

emergency preparedness family meeting

Planning a meeting is an important part of getting your spouse on board with an Emergency Plan.  It is vital for both partners to sit down together and come up with a unified plan to present to the rest of the members of the family.  As the head of the household, others will look to you and your spouse in the event of an emergency for direction and leadership.

Start Small

When talking with your spouse about emergency preparedness it is important to start off with a short meeting discussing why this is an important part of the overall family plan (financial, education, raising kids, etc.).  Ask your spouse to come up with ideas for the next meeting on food, fuel storage, water, shelter, etc. By working together it becomes more of a team environment and less about “you”.

Avoid Scare Tactics.

When talking to your spouse (Husband or Wife) avoid being overly dramatic about the “What If’s” that are out there. Instead talk about historical events (floods, storms, riots, food shortages, etc.) and come up with a sensible plan to either “Bug Out” or “Bug In” as well as food, water, transportation and shelter plans. (Read Book: “Back To Basics”)

Make it Fun

Instead of a tiresome chore, plan to do some fun stuff as a part of your emergency planning. Go on a camping trip, plant a garden, take a class on storing & preparing food, go to your local pistol & rifle range, go hunting, go shopping, take an emergency medical course. Bottom line, make it fun for everyone involved.

Having both partners fully up to speed on an Emergency Plan protects you both from being left in the lurch should the other suddenly not be available

In an emergency, communications can go down, freeways become parking lots and reaching your loved ones might become a distant memory. Having a plan that both spouses know will give you peace of mind knowing that if something goes wrong, your spouse will be able to take charge and know the plan (what to do, where to go).  (Read Book: “Handbook to Practical Disaster Preparedness for the Family”)

Wrap Up

emergency-plan,survival-planning, survivalist

My spouse and I have discussed the effects of stores running out of food and supplies as well as the events that could lead to long-term problems and societal disruptions (Solar Flares/EMP, Economic Collapse, Earthquakes, Severe Storms, etc.).

Basically I took several possible events and showed her how the most likely outcome was a loss of modern conveniences and the need to survive for up to 5 years as if it was the mid-1800s.  By putting a time limit on these events (6 months for weather or labor strikes, a few years for the worst events) it really helped to put things in perspective with my spouse and removed some of the fear and scare tactics.

My spouse is now more involved with emergency preparedness because she feels that she may need to help her children (and husband) through a few bad years in the future.  She is also more keenly aware of the “Achilles Heel” of our family’s well being which is a combination of electricity, food, water, shelter and fuel.

A great book to get you started talking with your spouse and family is “Making the Best of Basics” by James Talmage Stevens

You might also like: Family Survival: Let’s Not Forget the Kids

Photo credits:

Joel Jefferson

Joel is one of the original founders of After college, he joined the USMC where he served as an (0302) Marine Infantry Officer. Joel is an avid outdoorsman and spends much of his free time in the mountains. Joel’s hobby is researching survival gear & weapons as well as prepping. Read his full interview here.