Dealing With a Reluctant Partner

Is your partner not “on board” with the ideas in The Crash Course?  Here are the do’s and don'ts of speaking with your reluctant partner.

In early 2002, the stock market was tanking and Chris watched our savings drop along with it.  Ignoring the platitudes of our financial advisor to "wait it out because the stock market always goes back up," he began an intensely focused (dare I say obsessive?) study of the economy.  What he learned made him both angry and afraid. He ranted about the state of debt levels, the fragility of fiat currencies, and the inequities of the banking system - and I barely listened:  “Uh huh.  Really?  Gosh, that’s too bad.  Can you pass me a diaper, please?”

The movie “The Matrix” had just come out, providing perfect metaphors that made him sound pretty darn crazy to me:  He talked about having taken the red pill, and that he didn’t want to be a battery for the machine anymore.  I figured this was some kind of mid-life crisis in the works.  It was an emotional squall; I just had to wait it out, and Chris would be back to his usual self in a few months.  But the squall didn’t pass - instead, it picked up energy and became a real storm.  The harder the storm raged, the more I shut down to what Chris was trying to tell me.  He was growing increasingly distrustful of the system and fearful about the impact on his family, but I couldn’t open up and listen to what he was saying at all.  No one else I knew was talking about this stuff.  What was the matter with my husband?

After a while, Chris changed tactics, and rather than attempting to force me to his position or expressing his fear, he altered the tone of his voice.  He cooled down, came to me one evening (I remember it well) and said, “I need to talk to you about something really important.  Everything I have been reading and researching is changing my impression of what the future looks like.  I’m looking at the future through a new lens, and what I see has huge implications for our family; I need you to learn what I have learned; to look through the same lens and see if you come to the same conclusions.”  

This change in approach helped me shift my own stance.  My earlier perception that Chris was coming at me strongly from a place of fear and anger led me to put up walls to protect myself from the intensity of his emotions.  When he shifted and came to me calmly, I was able to put down those walls and listen to what he was saying.  I began my own journey of learning about the economy (we were only looking at one “E” at that point), and quickly drew the same conclusions as Chris.  It was clear that our energy-dependent lifestyle and super-sized home were not in alignment with our new perspective on the future.

And while fear of “what might go wrong” provided the initial energy I needed to sell our house and move, it was the calling of a better way of life for my family that sustained me throughout the process.  I did not want to live in fear, but rather joy.  I could tell that the life we were visioning together was a better life - more connected to the land and natural cycles, more connected to our community and our children.  While Chris was primarily motivated by a desire to provide for and protect his family, I was primarily motivated by a vision of a healthier life for my children. 

Within a year, we had sold our big house, tossed our TV, moved to western Massachusetts, got chickens and planted a garden, took the kids out of school, and began focusing on community building.

We were incredibly fortunate to maintain our unity as a couple throughout the major life shift we undertook seven years ago. Since that time we have met countless people in our seminars and at talks who describe a similar dynamic in which one partner “sees the light” and the other is reluctant to follow. Frequently, there is no happy ending to the story, and rather than unity, the relationship deteriorates due to stress and disharmony.  So many folks have approached us wanting to know:  How did Chris and I make it through this stage?  In response, we have developed a list of successful strategies for working towards unity with your reluctant partner.  We have found these to be very successful, and want to share them with you all:

  1. Be aware of your own emotional state!  This is critical.  Read the 6 Stages of Awareness and identify which emotional state you are most closely aligned with right now.  Know that your emotional state has a huge impact on your partner, as our story illustrates.
  2. Set aside time and space to talk about your concerns; don’t try to talk to your partner offhandedly or while the other is engaged in a task.  Create space for a “serious” conversation; it signals to your partner that this is deeply important to you.
  3. If at all possible, set aside your own fear/anger/depression when talking to your partner, and communicate with as little “charge” as possible.  When I need to do this, I literally ask the scared (or angry or sad) part of myself to sit aside for a few minutes so I can have a conversation from a grounded, clear place.  What settles your emotions?  I feel settled after I spend time alone in nature, but everyone has their own way to create a state of inner calm.  Whatever that may be, do it before you have the “serious” conversation about why the implications of the Crash Course are important to you.
  4. Chris’s approach was really effective:  Instead of saying, “This is what I believe! You have to believe it too!” he encouraged me to learn for myself and see what conclusions I came to on my own.  At the time there was no Crash Course, so I had to read source material from numerous books, articles, and websites; instead of love notes, Chris left important articles on my pillow at night!  With the CC, you are fortunate to have much of the information in condensed form - use it wisely.  Ask your partner to watch the CC with you, to see what s/he thinks about the material.
  5. Everyone has different processing speeds.  If you are successful in getting your partner to watch the Crash Course, don’t assume s/he will be able to instantly process and respond to the material. Allow a few days to let it “simmer,” then check in and see if your partner is ready to talk about it.  It may take a long while!  We once had a man show up at our door who had seen Chris give a talk locally a few years back; initially he thought Chris was way off base, but he wanted to come back and let us know we were right!  We plant the seeds of this information and sometimes have to wait very patiently for the seed to germinate and sprout.
  6. If after watching the Crash Course, your partner is still not convinced, take a deep breath and let it go for a while.  Not everyone is ready to engage with this material – it is pretty intense, after all.  If you can, try to accept where your partner is without judgment; again, not everyone is ready to process this information at the same pace.  Your partner may need to hear it from his or her best friend, doctor, or trusted TV personality before the underlying beliefs can shift. The information may need to lie dormant for a very long time before it reemerges.
  7. Not everyone is built to be an early adopter.  While gaining some traction in the mainstream media, the implications of the Crash Course are still understood by only a small minority of the global population.  As the situation continues to unfold, it will become clear to more and more people, perhaps your partner as well.  Be patient!
  8. Agree to disagree.  If your partner is unwilling to join you in your thinking or personal preparations, ask for his/her blessing to follow your gut and do what feels right.  I know at least three couples in which one partner is quietly preparing, and while the other is not on board, s/he is not blocking the activity.
  9. Some partners are actively hostile to any mention of the Crash Course or related information.  This can be very challenging, especially if the other partner is passionate in his/her conviction about the implications of the CC.  If you can, accept where your partner is, even if you don’t agree.  If your partner is in this category, don’t even talk about the Crash Course or related material around them; it will only serve to solidify the opposing stance of your partner.  Read what you want, prepare in the ways that seem most important, but don’t try to involve your partner in the process.  Leave them alone.  Accepting them as they are and giving them space to be without judgment will be the most effective approach.
  10. Come to a seminar with your partner (the next one is Feb. 25 in Rowe MA) or schedule a private consultation.  We have seen major shifts happen with couples in our seminars.  There is usually at least one reluctant partner in each group, and frequently there are more.  Your partner will be in a room filled with very normal looking and sounding people who share the same beliefs as you do.  Your views will no longer seem quite so crazy!  Chris and I have been at this a long time and are both in a persistent state of emotional acceptance with the material; being in a room with others who are in acceptance provides an opportunity for deep shifts to occur.  We present the information with compassion and without fear or anger.  This allows people to lay down their emotional barriers and listen in a new way. One participant from Rowe last year said it most succinctly:  “I’ve never felt so safe hearing such scary information before.”
  11. If all of these approaches are not successful and you are at an impasse facing a deteriorating relationship, please seek professional therapy to help see you through it. 

Above all, know that you are not alone. There are thousands of others who share your experiences and frustrations in working with a reluctant partner, close friend, or family member.  If you have stories to share on this subject, I encourage you to do so in the comments below.  Together, we can support each other to find our way through the challenging landscape of relationships with reluctant partners.


This What Should I Do? blog series is intended to surface knowledge and perspective useful to preparing for a future defined by Peak Oil.  The content is written by readers and is based in their own experiences in putting into practice many of the ideas exchanged on this site.  If there are topics you'd like to see featured here, or if you have interest in contributing a post in a relevant area of your expertise, please indicate so in our What Should I Do? series feedback forum.

If you have not yet seen the other articles in this series, you can find them here:

This series is a companion to this site's free What Should I Do? Guide, which provides guidance from Chris and the staff on specific strategies, products, and services that individuals should consider in their preparations.

This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at

Thanks for your excellent advice Becca.  I’ve been hearing of your expertise on this topic for many months and it is good we are finally able to read your thoughts directly.  They are very helpful.
It would be good to have more articles from you on the following topics:

Dealing with our own emotional reactions to the expected future.  Having children makes this especially difficult.  There is good reason to fear for their future, and our emotions can complicate our actions and our relationships with them.  The 6 Stages of Awareness is a good foundation, but this could easily be expanded upon.

Dealing with friends and acquaintances.  This is risky as they are likely to write you off as a kook.

Thanks again.


Thank you so much for sharing your story and your wisdom, Becca.  As you know, my husband is one who isn’t on board with Chris’ thoughts in the same way that I am.  We went to one of the early End of Money seminars, and we have known your family for years (practically since you made your big move from the old life to the new.)  And, of course, my dedication to my work here at makes Chris’ ideas quite central to my life.  But despite that prolonged and frequent exposure, my husband simply doesn’t have the same response as I do.
I found this very frustrating at first, and I couldn’t figure out why he was so resistant to accepting what seemed to me to be self-evident truths.  And then I realized that the disconnect was not so much with the basic truths contained in the Crash Course, but how we are destined by personality to respond to that information.

I am a preparer.  I always have been.  Stockpiling pantry food, making sure we have hand-me-downs for the kids in the next several sizes, collecting how-to-books “just in case,” all of those things have always appealed to me and made me feel safer and more secure even before encountering the information contained in the Crash Course.  I love keeping old-fashioned things for their usefulness and practicing self-sufficiency skills.  These practices calm my anxieties and fear about the future.  I prefer to take a proactive stance to provisioning, and I am acutely sensitive to gaps in my preparations.  My parents call it the “Depression mentality.”  But Depression or no, I think some people are simply hard-wired to be preparers.

My husband is not a preparer.  It doesn’t appeal to him to collect tools and durable goods for future use.  But after months of thoughtful observation and contemplation, I can say that he DOES have some incredibly useful skills and traits that apply just as importantly to preparation. He is remarkably emotionally self-reliant.  He has a deep-seated, unshakeable trust that he will be able to adapt to and find his way in any scenario.  He is smart and resourceful, he knows how to make things work under less than ideal circumstances, and he is optimistic and open-minded about what shape this might take.  To him, this mindset represents the most important form of preparation.  And I simply cannot argue with that. 

So our disagreements about where our attention and energy should be spent generally boil down to him feeling that my material preparations are based too much on guesswork to be well-placed, and me feeling that his lack of material preparation reflects some naivete about what is to come.  You know, we both have a good point:  Preparations all inevitably fall short of being fully effective.  It’s an argument that goes round and round - is it worth it?  What is worth it?  What preparations make the most sense to each individual?

So it is clear that my need for preparation takes a more material form, while his need for preparation involves continuing to exercise and strengthen his ability to make the most of whatever comes his way.  I think the shape of his response is less common than mine; after all, here at we have found that when people ask us, “What should I do?” they are typically satisfied with suggestions for material preparations.  And it may well be that people who feel as my husband does are simply not attracted to a website that champions material preparation, so it may be true that we are surrounded here in this online community by people who validate “my” type of perspective and approach to preparation.

Anyway, after struggling with that seeming disconnect for many months, even years, I have come to feel that my husband’s emotional preparedness and confidence is as essential to our well-being as my material preparations.  We do disagree on some of the finer points of Chris’ arguments - I tend to look at the worst-case scenario, while he tends to look at the best-case and not feel quite as doomey as I do, but we do agree on the basic facts of the 3 Es and where they are headed.

While he doesn’t always agree with my choices with regard to purchasing and accumulating things – often I feel something is an essential expenditure while he feels it is not, and this can be stressful with a tight budget – he does unquestionably support my need to do what I feel I must to increase my sense of security and ease my anxiety in the way that my personality requires.  And he is entitled to the same from me - I cannot push him to join me in my plans and purchases, but I can honor the validity of his own less-material “preparation” of maintaining a strong core of inner emotional resilience. 

It is important to remember where your values intersect, and all too easy to get stuck on the (hopefully far fewer) ways in which you do not see eye-to-eye.  Keep in mind all the good reasons why you partnered with this person in the first place, give them space to grow in their own way and in their own time, and take the steps you require to support your own need for preparation.

And ultimately, I feel that our family of six will be richer for having two adults with different perspectives and offerings.  Thank goodness for my kids that I keep a deep pantry.  And thank goodness for them that their dad is a fearless optimist about our family’s ability to survive, with or without that pantry.

So I want to encourage those of you who are reading this to consider whether your partner’s perspective may be, for them, a reflection of acknowledgment and preparation, even if it doesn’t appear so at first glance.

Good luck to all who are feeling challenged by their partners’ differing perspectives.

“At the time there was no Crash Course, so I had to read source material from numerous books, articles, and websites; instead of love notes, Chris left important articles on my pillow at night!”

Wow, you must have really loved him to read all those articles rather than have all the relevant data nicely assembled in one convenient presentation! :slight_smile:

My wife and I have watched the Crash Course (sometime last year). But she got into the “nesting” stage and the “think positive” stage and now we’re in the “pass the diapers” stage and I feel like I’m the only one thinking all these things because she’s just been so overwhelmed with our newborn twins and as a mother and natural optimist, she wants to think only of positive things.

Two things please:

  1. Please remind him to update the Crash Course. Some of the material is two years old now and there is so much more compelling data now! The national debt is even higher!
  2. Please consider holding a Crash Course seminar in Southern California! Would love to attend!

One additional positive note: I loved the “What Should I Do?” series. It is helpful to have things to do, that those of us who are of very limited finances and physical resources can do. Not everyone can go trading in commodities and gold or even store physical gold. Not everyone can afford nor have space to store 6 months or a year of food for a family.


This post is an excellent “case study” (and really well-written!).  Thanks Amanda.

And as a supplemental thought to the contrast between your prep style and your husband’s prep style (which you trace back to differences in your core personality/way of being or seeing things), I can say that I was a guy who stretched my post-college wanderjahr into a decade-plus of hither-and-yon.  My friends got used to me picking up and heading off to the horizon every couple of years.  I was most definitely not a collector of material things.  But now I’m putting deep roots down and gathering all sorts of stuff (they see it as just the typical mid-life American accumulation of material things, whereas to me the stuff constitutes a material hedge of necessaries against future uncertainty).  If only they were willing to understand the Why of it.

So, too late to keep this short, but FWIW, personality types IME can shift – at least as pertains to the 3Es and the Upcoming Excitement.

And as for Becca’s story, although I heard it in person at the New Paltz seminars last April, I was glad to get another gander at it.  (I find I get a deeper understanding w/repeat exposure [I re-watched disc 2 of the CC DVD last weekend and had any number of “ohhh yeah”/“aha!” moments].) Thanks to you too!  

Viva – Sager

That was a very wise and thoughtful post.  Thanks for taking the time to do it.


Becca, it’s nice to hear from you.  There is a great truth in your article, I think. 
This wisdom can benefit anybody, at any point in their life:  the idea that acceptance is a part of love, is important not only in discussing the Crash Course with a partner but in many other areas of life, too.

Thank you for the well thought out post.  I had lunch with a college friend today who is awake but his wife is totally hostile to the end of the world as we know it.  I didn’t have alot of good advice but I know he is checking the site each day.  This will make a difference and you have done something worthwhile with this effort.
Hat tip,


Thank you Becca for sharing. Very nice piece.

Great to hear a woman’s voice on this site - this area of thought and discussion can be a bit male-centric. Thanks Becca

 Thanks to everyone for your warm responses to my article.  I appreciate your feedback.
Travlin, you requested more information about “dealing with our emotional reactions to the expected future”, especially with the added complexity of having children, and the fears that naturally arise when we think about their futures.   I wanted to let you know that I am working on a piece on emotional preparation and it will hopefully be out after New Year’s sometime.
Amanda, thank you for your insightful reflections on your husband’s emotional resilience, and your journey to appreciate his response to future uncertainty.  It sounds like you two have found a perfect balance in your relationship, with you holding the physical preparations and Sean being the source for emotional resilience and optimism.  Your children are learning from both of you how to manage the changing and sometimes less-than-ideal conditions life presents.  Celebrate what you each bring!   I am always grateful for the different gifts Chris and I each bring to our relationship and family.
Poet, it sounds like your wife is doing an amazing job if she remains optimistic while mothering infant twins!  The early stage of parenting, when the babies are still nursing and in diapers, is unbelievably taxing (physically and emotionally) for both mothers and fathers.  Please just let her be where she is, and support her positive attitude (it will be much healthier for your children to have an optimistic and happy mom, believe me!).  If you need to “hold the darkness” for a period of time while she is immersed in mothering, please do this.  This is a beautiful gift you can give your family during this important stage of your children’s life.
As for the updated Crash Course, it will be coming in book form in March!

This wisdom can benefit anybody, at any point in their life:  the idea that acceptance is a part of love, is important not only in discussing the Crash Course with a partner but in many other areas of life, too.
I couldn't have said it better myself Jrf29.  Thank you.  

Becca,The CM community really appreciates you opening up and sharing how you grew and learned through this process.  I have aways been a non-mainstrean individual, and my wife simple more old school (farm girl).  We were fortunate to hear Chris speak at Sonora, Ca.  As he came on stage, my wife asked “is this where they hand our the cyanide?”  By the end of Chris’s talk, she understood my concerns.  Chris’s credentials, knowledge, and presentation skills sold her on where we are headed.  He is really a well rounded and gifted individual.
Our current position today is “one foot in this world and one in the next”.  More than 10% prepared (food, shelter, and warmth), but still some gaps.  Currently our steps are baby steps, but we continue to more in the right direction.  Unforltunately, it will take one more shoe to drop to move us in high gear.  What keeps me going is that being 50% prepared is alot better than 0%.

Hi Becca-
   Thanks for sharing your and Chris’s story.  It helps those of us going through such difficulties to know that we aren’t alone!  Thanks also to Amanda and the others who have shared their stories as well!

   There has been some additional great discussion on this topic on earlier threads.  One  folks can check out is at  I think there were some other threads too; but this was the only one whose name I remembered enough to find it. 

  Wishing you the best over the holidays,


Yeah, “reluctant” …but it isn’t surprising me, after I had a few month of time, to think about. The E-facts are hard stuff. Who wants to hear in detail, at which high degreed all the work ants (like me and probably You) were fooled in each thinkable way?And it took several month for my wife, to accept some of the basic thoughts. Helpfully the last 2 years were filled up with headlines, we never heard before - so we wondered: what could have changed?
…I’m from Germany. We had a lot of  events in history which  took all wealth from the work ants: Weimar Republik, Great Depression, WWII, changing the Mark (of the former GDR- Germany Democratic Republic) into the Deutsch Mark (D-Mark of the FRG at a rate of 2:1) and changing the D-Mark into the Euro (rate 2:1 again).
But the spaghetties, the fuel, the bread, electricity and so on stayed at the same levels, but the incomes were cut by half each time.
My wife had even more difficulties to accept my doings. I spend or let’s say: I invested 6 full months of 2010 onto the subject and haven’t stoped yet. More than one month of the six I used for the translation of the CC into german language - together with friends from Switzerland and Germany (Mark, Chantal, Paul, Uwe).
When the CC will be available in german by the end of  January 2011, I hope my wife will dive into it together with me. I think she was a little bit jealous of the things I deal with. And I was filled up with passion and anger and anciety - You bet.
But now we have a pantry, an owen, canceled all retirement plans because of inflation and think about real money. So at last the truth works it’s way :slight_smile: Hopefully I start into a new episode of my working life within weeks: I combine my former doings (IT) with a job dealing with IT around the production of an engine making electricity and warmth out of natural gas (cogeneration unit or CHP: combined heat and power unit).
As the old Karl Marx said: An idea materializes into power, when it grasps the masses. So Chris, You changed the life of lot’s of works ants into knowing work ants (red pill). Our savings won’t be stolen by politicians and bankers and magnats anymore. I often must think and laugh of the saying of Ron Paul: “Don’t steal! The government hats competition.”
And maybe the works ants will express their anger sometimes. Time for changes?
Thankfully. Joerg

Thanks for your thoughtful insights.  Thankfully my wife was immediately on board when I approached her with the Crash Course.  (Hardly anyone else has been, but I’d take her first anytime!)

I’d be interested in your insight about sharing information with your kids.  We have a 13 year old son and 11 and 7 year old daughters.  (I actaully met you in Denver in July 2009 – I was the one who chose to fly back to San Diego for my son’s graduation and had to miss the Sunday session.)  I have kept my job and income and the preparations we have made have been more on the financial (precious metals, cash), deep pantry, stored water, etc. so nothing as dramatic as a move to the country.  All of my family is in the immediate area, which makes any contemplated move more difficult.  When the kids ask about any prep stuff we are doing we typically portray it as earthquake/wildfire preparation, which doesn’t overly alarm them.

What are your thoughts about the appropriate method and timing to educate kids on these issues depending on their ages?  While we want and need them to understand what our concerns are at the appropriate time, we also don’t want to unnecessarily alarm them or steal their childhood since our society does that anyhow. 

(I am not sure if you are aware of the Hunger Games trilogy by Suzanne Collins, but they are middle school level books that present very compelling, and not unrealistic, visions of what a post peak oil future could look like.  It has lead to some interesting discussions with my son about what events could lead to that type of situation.)



Thanks Becca, your contributions at Rowe when I attended a couple years ago and with posts like this really round out the genuine sincerity of the message of
I am currently seeking out possibilities for a new relationship and have come to realize that my ideal partner - she will need to be able to get on board with the necessary changes in perspective and lifestyle I am envisioning based on information from sources like the Crash Course.  In fact, its a deal breaker because trying to run a household as a single parent seems to be more and more both economically and mentally challenging without even considering the risks on the horizon of peak oil or dollar debasement. 

With kids, I generally find the right time to educate them is to give accurate information when they ask, up to the amount that satisfies their current level of interest.  Mine are still young, but they are regularly involved in the lifestyle I am trying to develop of more simplicity, frugality, and self reliance.  Will they still get up at 6AM to run out in 15 F weather to open the chicken coop when they are teenagers is still to be seen, but at least they getting a sense of the energy and effort that goes into necessities of life others might just take for granted.



BeccaThanks for a great post.  I’ve seen this problem of the “reluctant partner” covered several times elsewhere but it’s always helpful to read it again and realise other people have the same problem.
I’m a family physician in Belleville, Ontario, so your comment at No. 6 “your partner may need to hear it from his or her doctor” made me smile!  I wish it worked for me.  I and my wife are definitely at Stage No. 9.  I have been trying to talk to her about these issues for two years, but every time I raise it, however tentatively, she shuts down and doesn’t want to know, and I pretty soon got the message “I don’t want you to talk to me about this”, so I don’t.  Which makes it hard to discuss things that we really ought to discuss, like educating the children (we have four aged 3 to 9) and our work and retirement plans.  The last time I raised it, I said to her that I had some evidence about the state of the economy I wanted to show her and her response was “I don’t want to look at the evidence”.  So unfortunately I think it’s going to take a major disaster like a war or fuel or food shortage to shake her out of that - I don’t think I can do it alone.
If you’re serious about the “go see your doctor about it” idea, and there’s a couple local to me (in Ontario) having problems, I’d be happy to talk to them.  I also have a website under development, Post Peak Medicine (
Regards, Peter 

Amanda:I am glad to hear that you and yours are working out solutions, even if you don’t agree.
I am fortunate to have the wife that I do.  She is the one that found the website and alerted me to just how important preperations are.  She is really getting us prepared.
We don’t always agree on what is needed, but we do agree that the transition is not going to be easy and that we need to do our best to prepare.
The way I see it, no matter how much you stockpile, it will run out.  No matter what tools you have, some day they will break and you will not be able to get parts.  Machines break down, systems fail. 
The only thing that you will not run out of is skill or ability.  It’s the only thing you can count on.  It doesn’t break and it doesn’t have to be rebooted.  It’s just always there. 
For me, it’s not what do I need or what should I do, but what don’t I need, what can I do without.  Maybe your husband’s thinking is a little like this.

Hi Mike, it’s good to hear from you!The subject of how to talk to our kids is a difficult one for sure, and one many people wonder about.  I can tell you about my own experience and I’d love to hear what others think.  Honestly, this is a BIG subject, and I won’t be able to address it fully in this response.
I think the most important thing to remember when talking to your kids (or ANYONE, for that matter) is to keep track of your own emotional state and keep fear out of the conversation if at all possible. 
As you might imagine, our own kids have steeped in this material for years; they hear us talking about it the 3 Es, but we rarely sit them down and say “hey kids, the future might be a little dicey”.  If they ask a question, we’ll answer it honestly.  Obviously, different aged children require a different response.  I’ve been completely straight up with our daughter who is 16; I’ve let her know that we’ll have some challenging times ahead, but that we’ll pull together as a family and a community and come out stronger (my genuine belief).  With our younger kids (10 and 12), they know we expect a period of rapid change, but we don’t go into the potential darkness with them.  We are matter of fact about the times we live in-  that their adult lives will probably be pretty different from ours.  Not scary, just different. 
I think Tom said it very well:

With kids, I generally find the right time to educate them is to give accurate information when they ask, up to the amount that satisfies their current level of interest. 
We’re also matter of fact about our preparations- all the kids participated in our food packing day.  It was just another community event, like our chicken processing day.  Nothing unusual.  Certainly not scary.  Just what prudent grown-ups do when prepping for winter:  we fill the freezer with chickens and food from the garden, and make sure we have supplies on hand in case of emergencies.  Just like having a first-aid kit in the car.  No big deal. I know that our community IS unusual compared to most folks, so talking about preparations in terms of earthquake/icestorm/hurricane etc is just fine.  Honestly, I’ve pulled out our oil lamps for power loss due to wind and ice storms MANY times.  Full breakdown of the grid due to economic calamity or peak oil?  Not yet.  I’d love to hear what the rest of you think!  Chime in if you have stories to tell about talking with your kids about the 3 Es.

Peter,  it must be challenging to try to talk to your wife about  this material and have her shut down in response. She’s just not ready yet, and there’s not much you can do about it.  Like the majority of folks, she’ll need to world to crumble a bit more aggressively before she’ll be ready to see what you can see now.  She is not alone.  MOST people fall into this camp.  Your children are still young and I advise that you let them (and her) stay “in the bubble” of their current worldview.  Will your wife allow you to manage the finances and make whatever preparations you feel are necessary, as long as you don’t include her in the process?  If so, go ahead and do what you need to do.  When the next big correction comes, perhaps she’ll be ready.  But maybe not.  Just keep plugging along yourself as best you can.  Find support here at the site and with others in your community if possible.