Giving in Marriage | How to Develop Unity in Giving

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The process of the Two becoming One can be difficult.

Since couples often fight and disagree about money, you can bet they disagree about giving.

In fact, I’ve seen a lot of emails and comments on this blog by spouses who are bitter towards the other for either giving too much or for inhibiting the other from giving.

While every couple has their own pattern or system for giving, I thought today I’d introduce how we make giving decisions. I don’t introduce this process to ask anyone to imitate it, but to outline a process that you can adjust and change according to your marriage temperament.

A Systematic Approach to Making Giving Decisions

My wife and I make almost all of our giving decisions together, and we typically make most of our decisions in advance.

Step #1: Determine a Giving Game Plan

Before getting into the specifics of giving (i.e. should I give to organization x or y?), couples ought to have a general consensus of how much they will give and have a general sense of the ways they want to use their giving money.

In our case, how much we give each year was actually determined about three years ago. My wife and I prayerfully decided that the graduated tithe was our preferred giving approach.

In previous years, we would have a discussion at the start of the year about how much we wanted to give. We’d often challenge ourselves to give an extra dollar amount each month or to increase our overall giving by a certain percentage.

That system works well and worked well when our income was very predictable.

However, if you’re self employed or have an irregular income, you may find a different system to be more effective.

We’ve found having some type of a system in place helps guide us when making those specific giving decisions.

Step #2: Agree on General Giving Categories

As you can probably tell, my wife and I are structured people. Thus, it’s not surprising that our giving is also structured.

My wife and I have agreed that we’d like our giving to have an impact in the following areas:

  1. Local Church - It’s important to us that we support the church where we serve and worship. It’s healthy to entrust part of your giving to the same leadership with which you entrust your spiritual growth.
  2. Missions – Indeed, the harvest is more plentiful than there are workers. Only something like 15% of people who ever decide to become missionaries actually make it to the mission field. Finances and the inability to fundraise is a common factor.
  3. Social Justice / Widows / Orphans / Poor – Part of our Christian call is to be lights. We have an obligation to be ambassadors of the kingdom of God. Helping the poor and outcasts is a very Christ-like use of funds.

Step #3: Agree on Specifics and Liberties

After we’ve agreed on the more general aspects of giving, we start discussing elements like who, what, when, where, and how.

If it’s a new work or ministry we’re considering, we do our best to do the appropriate research. Interestingly, this is one of the harder aspects as it requires us to invest the very precious commodity of time. However, we think this is a step that stewardship requires.

While agreeing on specifics, we also give each other permission to make executive decisions that the other feels is important. Often times when we leave the house, we don’t know what giving opportunities we might encounter. We’re learning to trust each others’ judgment to make spontaneous giving decisions.

How do you and your spouse decide what you’ll give and how you’ll give?


  1. JD says

    Our decisions are made jointly and we talk to each other about what direction God has been leading us. Quite often it is in the same direction although neither one of us knew it or had discussed it in advance. Both of us are flexible in changing our focus so it seems to work well at our home.

  2. says

    Hi Craig,

    Very nice post. My wife and I should agree on where and how to give. We both agreed to support the church we’re worshipping for more than 15 years. Sometimes, I’m convincing her to support other organizations but we didn’t talk it much. Your post gives me idea on how to do it.

  3. GayleRN says

    I find it interesting that many churches expect your entire tithe to go to them and then they figure out what to do with it after that. I currently am not attending a formal church but have taken care to set aside God’s money. I do support the mission organization that I am affiliated with both as a director and a team member. Doing this costs me not only in time off of paid work but in cash outlays for transportation and other expenses which are not reimbursed. I have no problem in counting that as a contribution also. Oddlly enough, all of the mission activity, and other contributions generally add up to 10%. Many would argue that this doesn’t count as tithe because it isn’t being run through an organization, but if the only reason to run it through an organization is to get a tax receipt, I don’t need that. Because I am debt free without a mortgage I no longer have more than the standard deduction most years.

  4. Roger says

    Like all decisions in a marriage you need to agree, although I think both partners should give each other some flexibility to give a little more or to something different at least on an adhoc basis. Women tend to want more security and men tend to take more risks, each should respect and be sensitive to the other. The giving split btw church, missions and the needy is a good pattern to follow. In response to GayleRN, what percentages/amounts is of no concern to anyone else, your giving policy is not btw you and the church accountant but btw you and God, its no one else’s business. Personally I am uncomfortable in giving 10% to a church, in that many seem to think its a form of taxation that is compulsory. A lot of “tithe” money just goes to running the “organisation”, and very little goes to helping people, missions, the poor etc, at least from my observations. That said God believes in the church and we should give to it. The primary lead for us should be the Holy Spirit to guide us where to give, which could be in areas and amounts we never considered if we were only completely rational and structured. One last thing, whether one gets a tax deduction should not be the primary motivation for giving.

  5. Andrew Battistella says


    I’m sorry, but I truly believe that you have missed the entire point of how and why we tithe.

    Regardless of what money you have, whether it be a little or alot, you tithe that.

    And let us not confuse that a tithe is for the storehouse, the house, the house of God. Anthing else is and will always be an offering above your tithe. With your quote; ‘Doing this costs me not only in time off of paid work but in cash outlays for transportation and other expenses which are not reimbursed”, maybe you experience this because you are not tithing/giving correctly. Monkey see monkey do…you start to give and in your ministry people will start to give, and in your life people will start to give.

    And Roger, a majority of the money goes to running the organisation…It’s called The Church and Christ died for it….and let me ask you a question…What is the church there to do???

    We do not have tax deductibility in Australia, and regardless of whether we do one day or not…we tithe into the church because that it is plainly what we are meant to do .

    The early church gave everything…and if you are truly concerned what the CHURCH is doing with ‘Gods Money’ (not yours), don’t fret, God will take care of it all one day if the CHURCH is not being a good steward….that my friends is not something that we need to worry ourselves about!

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