I’m always surprised when I receive emails from men about their marriages although it happens pretty regularly. Sharing a household, finances, and parenting is usually easier when you have a shared value system, and some partnerships are stressed over the presence of firearms in the home. Several men have reached out for help in talking with their wives about guns. Here is an example:
I hope you can help me. My wife despises guns. I grew up with guns, starting with BB rifles and little CO2 pistols. I usually do my gun related tasks including range trips while she’s at work because she hates them and by extension, hates a very large part of who I am. I’ve sent her links to your site. I took her to the range in an attempt to prove that they’re tools and have countless uses OTHER than murdering people. I’ve gotten little .380s and .32s instead of the 9mm and .45 I personally prefer in an effort to find something, anything, that might not be so “scary”. It doesn’t seem to make any difference. Short of someone else who can find a way to get through to her, I think this marriage is doomed.
I’m not a marriage counselor and I can’t say whether a marriage is doomed. I understand how your wife feels and I can maybe try to provide a new perspective to help bridge the divide.
I felt the same way as your wife for many, many years. I didn’t entertain the idea of guns in our home with our three children. I didn’t let my kids play with toy guns. I felt that our society was too violent. I didn’t understand the purpose of anyone having a firearm; I didn’t live in the country or in a bad area of town. The idea of having a gun — any gun, whether a .380 or .45 — in our home seemed like an invitation to Death itself.
My paradigm was shattered, however, by the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, when I witnessed a modern American city become debilitated overnight. It was a wake-up call of how quickly our communities can fall apart. First responders were unable to (or in some cases, unwilling to) respond, and families were left on their own.
On the news I saw a mother hand her young children to a complete stranger getting on a bus out of NOLA. The situation was so desperate at the Super Dome, with limited food and water and increasing violence and death. She told her children that she would try to find them in Houston in a few days. Oh, how my heart shattered for her! I cried. I couldn’t imagine her despair.
And then I resolved that would never be me.
I started storing peanut butter and tuna fish in case our city ever suffered an outage of any kind. My plan was to have supplies, so we could shelter in place until things calmed down. My husband asked, “How are we going to stop someone with a gun from coming and taking our food and water that you’ve stored for our kids?”
Over the next few days and weeks, I decided that we would have nonperishables, water, and a firearm in the home to keep us safe. And, no, we don’t live in a coastal city, but any city’s infrastructure is vulnerable. And, no, I had no intention to ever touch the firearm, but was open for the first time to having one in our home.
Amidst any disaster, it is easy to see how quickly civility turns to chaos. There is an immediate increase in violent crime and looting when a 911 system is overburdened. And even on days with good weather, there are still political divisiveness and religious/cultural tensions that can be very scary. Mental health resources are lacking and some people are isolated and unstable.
I had suddenly accepted that I needed to focus less on what was happening “out there” in the world with other people’s children and I needed to focus my attention on what was best for mine. I could not control what others do in good times or bad; I could control my home to be prepared to weather any storm or crisis.
This was a MAJOR mental shift for me. Honestly, I felt like I sold out. Since your wife is my age, she probably also grew up watching the same cartoons and sitcoms, where everyone contributes to the greater community. Society needs to be better for all children, not just mine. We must all give up a little freedom so that we can all be safer.
My new reality acknowledged that I can give up all my rights for a better society, but others won’t. There are simply people out there who are never going to play by the rules. Criminals cause chaos or use it to take what they can. I am no longer ignorant to the reality that danger may come to my door.
If your wife is not comfortable operating a firearm, help her identify other tools available that can empower her to be her own first responder during a crisis. Together make a family emergency plan. Identify ways that you can respond to different threats, from hurricanes to robberies. She may slowly come to appreciate how you want to be able to respond to lethal force in seconds, rather than depending on the police who are minutes away (if they are called, if they respond).
This was my journey:
1. Acknowledging my family’s vulnerability in our modern society.
2. Accepting that not everyone plays by the rules.
3. Wanting my family to have immediate protection.
4. Being willing to take that responsibility by learning about firearms.
She may never get to #4, but if she gets to #3 it sounds like you’ll find common ground.
The best thing you can do is to give your wife time to change her mind. Heck, it took my husband more than 10 years! But changes can and do happen. : )
Hope this helps.