How to Handle Giving Differences in Marriage

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Sometimes, perhaps frequently, husbands and wives have different ideas about giving.  They may differ in their opinion about how much to give, and they may differ in discussion about to whom to give.  This is especially true if your spouse doesn’t have a common faith.

I’ve been listening to the audio version of A Passion for God: The Spiritual Journey of A.W. Tozer by Lyle W. Dorsett.  The book highlights his distain for mammon and his desire to keep his ministry free from such worldly concerns.  In an effort to avoid the temptation of money, he would frequently give 50% of his earnings to the church.  Several times while ministering in Chicago, he elected not to receive a raise in his pay.  That’s all well and good, but there arose something unhealthy about this approach.  His wife, Ada, was left to fend for and provide for the family, which included seven children.  Resources were often meager, and Ada felt them to be insufficient, but her husband continued to practice his habit of generosity at the cost of his family.  At one point in her life, Ada fell because a gas company left a hose sprawled across a sidewalk.  She did receive compensation from the fall, but set up a separate bank account knowing that A.W. would never allow her to accept the money.

Their story was fascinating to me.  It reminded me that not all couples approach giving with the same level of commitment and dedication. Perhaps some would say they don’t approach it with the same level of faith.  Perhaps one relies on wisdom more frequently and one upon faith more often. So, how should couples deal with giving differences in marriage.  Should the partner with stronger faith just push forward?  Should there be discussion and regard for the other spouse?

Unfortunately, I’m not going to be able to answer all those questions, but I do hope to let you see how other couples I know handle giving differences.  In the end, I hope this post will stimulate some healthy discussions between husband and wife.

3 Strategies and Approaches to Different Opinions About Giving

1.  Talk it out and agree to agree.

This is the strategy that my wife and I use.  I’m not sure how effective it will be for everyone - especially if you have deep differences.

In our home, neither of us gives money without discussing it with the other.  We have, however, agreed that if one or the other is out and they see a need and feel compelled to help, they should give.  There is a mutual trust in the judgement, wisdom, and faith of the other.

At the very least, I think couples with giving differences ought to talk it through.  Even if you’re feeling anxious or concerned about your level of giving, be sure to raise that issue with your spouse.

2.  You both vote, and the one with the more generous heart wins.

I believe this is how Randy Alcorn said that he and his wife decide how much to give outside of their regular giving.  Let’s say there is a special collection for a need.  They’ll both pray about the right amount to give, and then they’ll write down a number or share their number.  They’ve both previously agreed that whichever number is bigger is the amount they’ll use.

3.  You have separate giving ‘accounts’ that you manage.

I know a couple that struggled to agree on the ‘where’ question in giving.  They both agreed how much should be given, but they had different ideas about where that money should be sent.  As a result, they’ve found the most peaceful way to approach the situation is to split their giving money in half.  He writes checks to some organizations, and she writes checks to others.

In the end, the most important thing is communication.  Sit down with your spouse and find out how they feel about your giving habits as a couple.  Are their organizations one of you wishes you support more or less?  Are you giving an appropriate amount of your income?

If these types of issues just lead to arguments and disagreements, perhaps you should schedule time to sit down with someone in leadership at your church.

What do you do when you have giving differences in marriage?


  1. c nob'odi says

    Excellent article, we will be using the guidelines in it and probably as time goes on refine it to us. Thanks again for the article

  2. says

    Great article, thanks Craig! I think couples who don’t agree on giving need to be careful. For instance, if the wife is a believer and the husband is not…or the husband believes in tithing but the wife does not…the “givers” need to ensure their spouse is on board with giving. I’ve seen several instances where the believing tithers do so behind their spouse’s back. This breaks a different “rule” in the Bible about being honest. God does not want us to be a bad witnesses to our spouses by lying and doing things behind their back.

    Also, I like your mention about giving accounts. As part of our monthly budget, my wife and I put a certain amount of money into a “Bless Others” envelope. Then when a giving opportunity arises, we happily ravage this envelope to meet the need! And it was already in the budget!


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