When Spouses Clash on Financial Giving: Connect As a Couple
For over a decade I have been talking with folks about their personal financial giving. Among the most common questions I hear is, "What do I do when my spouse and I are not on the same page about our giving?"
Great question. Often tension in the area of giving can frustrate a marriage. And it's not always as simple as one spouse is generous and the other is not. As with other issues in marriage, the root cause of this situation can be complex.
Connect as a Couple
Often the problem has less to do with giving…or even money. It has to do with the marriage. From my own experience, a marriage can build layers of unresolved issues–poor communication, busy schedules, parenting challenges, unmet needs, financial stress, work stress, etc. (Shall I go on? Sure is getting quiet!)
Anyway, each layer collects dust. When the issue of giving comes along, it often gets placed on a pile of unresolved issues. If one spouse tries to press into the matter of generosity, the dust starts to fly!
One spouse is inspired by a new church project and desires to give a faith-stretching gift. The other spouse, feeling attention-deprived, resents the fact their spouse is feeling so charitable when their personal tank feels so empty.
I remember an out-of-town conference where I had been touched by a radical giving testimony, while feasting on hotel steak. Then while enjoying a peaceful flight home with my spiritual head in the clouds, I dreamed up some noble giving plans for my family.
Meanwhile my wife, Stephanie, was recovering from a rough week at home, juggling sick kids, constant carpools, and the fallout from a failed freezer.
Let’s just say I learned these times are not best for giving conversations.
Often what the giving conversation needs most is a relational tune-up. Whether it be a weekend retreat, marriage conference, or a simple date night, take some time to connect as a couple and to connect with each other's core needs. As for the giving conversation, set these aside for times when relational connection is high and the distractions are low.
For Stephanie and me, we address our giving with a year-end "business" meeting right after the holidays. This usually involves a date night away from the kids–a time to celebrate the passing year and look ahead to the next. In addition to enjoying a good meal and quiet conversation, we discuss a short list of items such as family vacation plans, the kid's sports calendar, our dreams and goals as a family, etc. Included in this agenda is our financial giving plan.
Enjoying a nice evening with my wife, reflecting on the God's goodness, celebrating the previous year’s highs and setting sights on the year ahead– that's when the giving conversation seems to flow best for us. Also, by taking time to plan our giving in advance, we have a giving plan in motion for the new year and a framework in place for reacting to giving "prompts" along the way.
Take steps to connect as a couple and address your giving when the connection is high. Your giving will flourish.