I want to give, but my spouse or partner doesn’t… What do I do?
This is a really great question because of how relevant it is. There are people worldwide who practice Christianity and follow Jesus, but the other person in the relationship doesn’t. That can work out for a while, but when it comes to financial generosity, it can become a conflict because our incomes and expenses are often shared in these relationships.
Talking about the giving aspect of our faith involves the other person in ways we’re not necessarily used to including them. The other person may not want to donate for several reasons. They may not have any religion or different beliefs than you. You might attend church together but interpret biblical financial stewardship differently.
Sometimes, your spouse or partner might have grown up in and around the church and experienced abuse and/or neglect. Reasonably, it will be tough for them to tolerate giving money to the local church.
God’s Love & Generosity
When conversing about giving, the conversation mustn’t turn this person off to faith more than they already are. We want the conversation to encourage faith interest. God wants us to do acts of generosity, especially regarding our finances, but not at the cost of our significant others finding Jesus.
I wouldn’t want you to hurt their faith when generosity and practicing giving should be very life-giving. It is gratifying, not just for you, but for the people you’re blessing with your generosity. The goal of our faith isn’t to get people to the point of giving money but rather to help people find Jesus. In following Jesus, we know that generosity is an aspect of that.
Our response as followers of Jesus is to show love back to God through our acts of generosity. God’s love for us is why he gave (John 3:16). I don’t want it to sound trite because we always say it, but it’s true: God loves us. His love doesn’t change based on whether or not you give. Whether your spouse or partner has faith, God still loves them. This is a foundational belief when proceeding with the topic at hand.
Step 1: Make An Ask
With that established, ask them about giving back and begin with a conversation. They probably already know that your faith is important to you, but they may not know that generosity is an aspect of your beliefs. Communicate that it would mean a lot to you to contribute to your local church. See what they say. They may be more open to it than you think. If they are, decide how much you’ll give and what frequency together. Are you going to donate weekly or monthly or as specific opportunities arise?
For some other folks, your significant other shares your faith, but you want to give more or more frequently, and they do not. Start a dialogue to learn why. Giving is a complicated step of faith. It requires a lot of trust in God. If this is the case for many people, it will be, put giving to the test for a set time (i.e., “Let’s try tithing for the next three months.)
Leave the subject alone for a season if the conversation doesn’t go well. You can continue to walk out your faith and show them the same love and grace God shows the rest of us. But if the conversation goes well, keeping communication lines open is essential.
Step 2: Get Some Feedback
What you’re giving belongs to both of you. After you’ve agreed to give or change your giving, you’ve got to regularly check in on that agreement. After a couple of months, ask your spouse or partner how things have gone. I firmly believe that you will experience God’s blessings and favor during that time, and you’ll see the impact of your giving in the lives of people around you.
Step 3: Share The Stories
Share the specific stories of how your generosity is making a difference. This is especially important for those whose spouses or partners don’t have the same beliefs. You’ll hear about how your giving matters, but they won’t (unless you tell them).
At Madison Church, our ministries to kids and students positively take off. Some decide to be baptized, while others step up into leadership roles. This will be encouraging for them to hear about. Keep them updated with the good you’re doing together through your donations.
Q: I want to give, by my spouse/partner doesn’t… what do I do?
A: Begin with a conversation about your faith and how finances are a part of that. Make an ask about giving, and clarify expectations as you go. Keep good communication going by regularly seeking feedback. Share the stories of how your giving is being put to work. Generosity is something that should help them on their spiritual journey, not hurt it.