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:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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?