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.
Tip #1: Understand that she just wants her home to be a violence-free zone, which you hopefully do, too.
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.
I realized that my home would only be gun-free until that moment when someone with a gun kicked in my door to loot for food or supplies that we had stored for our family. I could not control what others do in desperate moments, but I could control my home to be prepared to weather any storm or crisis.
The reality hit me square in the face: firearms enter gun-free zones. Your wife might not be ready to accept this truth because ignorance is bliss, so be empathetic that this is a tough pill to swallow.
Tip #2: Use current events to talk with your wife about vulnerabilities that your family faces.
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. Watch the news: any change in the status quo and there is a run on bread, milk, and ammo.
My new realization was 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. This was a MAJOR mental shift for me. Honestly, I felt like I sold out, but I accepted that bad things happen to good people. Criminals cause chaos or use it to take what they can, and I was going to be ready to protect my children.
Tip #3: Introduce the concept of being your family’s first responder.
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 preparedness plan and a family emergency plan. Identify ways that you will respond to different threats, from hurricanes to robberies.
After you’ve listed various defensive tools/options that are available to you, review their success rates and pros/cons. Your wife 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.
2. Accepting that someone might bring a gun into my gun-free zone.
3. Wanting my family to have immediate protection.
4. Being willing to take a firearms training course.
She may never get to #4, but if she gets to #3 it sounds like you’ll find common ground.
Tip #4: Introduce your wife to A Girl & A Gun Women’s Shooting League.
If she does get to #3, maybe she’ll be open to #4. When I was new to guns, my fears were eased by talking with other women about my concerns, hearing their perspectives and solutions, and getting training from qualified and caring instructors. If you encourage your wife to join A Girl & A Gun, let her know that she’s 100% in control of the learning process. We may start with field-stripping a firearm to show her that it is just springs, metal, and polymer — just like any other tool for defense. Next we can introduce dry-fire, so she can learn all of the safety rules and etiquette without even shooting a gun. And then if she wants to learn more, we will introduce live-fire in a way that is not scary, embarrassing, or frustrating, which it might be if she went to the range with you. (No offense.) She’ll learn a lot about personal safety, meet a lot of cool women, and have a lot of fun!
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.