When Giving Money Is Easy for One Spouse but Not the Other

“Christmas gifts for 23 of your family members? Why can’t we draw names?”

“Our friend’s kid’s first birthday? Really… like the kid will remember or even care. (Oh, never mind, the $500 of other gifts they will get from all of the other suckers who bought into it!)”

“Ol’ So-and-So needs money for something… if they would have just managed their money right in the first place, they wouldn’t be in this situation!”

When Giving Money Is Easy for One Spouse but Not the Other

I wish the above comments weren’t part of my record or our marriage history, but they regretfully are. Giving has not been easy for me; Elisabeth has never had an issue with giving freely.

Hello, conflict.

From the first days of our marriage, giving was seemingly a struggle we continued to encounter. Sadly, it often led to senseless fights between us, hurt feelings, and losing the joy of giving (for Elisabeth, at least).

Even our expert budgeting couldn’t fix this issue because, at the core, I just didn’t like to give.

About six months ago, a young couple in our church had some tough times. The husband lost his job and, thus, medical insurance. Meanwhile, their one-year-old son was days away from a needed surgery. The wife went back to work and picked up extra hours. They were scrambling and even moving back home (several states away) so they could make it.

For some reason, I felt—um—compelled to give. It was weird—weird enough that I actually mentioned it to Elisabeth. We agreed to ponder the idea, pray about it, and even set a deadline a few days later to make a decision and act.

Each of us brought a number in mind to the negotiating table. Her number was twice mine. But here’s the deal: I was sandbagging due to my normal anti-giving tendencies.

Days before when the idea first came up, the number I had thought of was the same as Elisabeth’s. After a bit longer, and some additional conviction, we landed on the bigger number.

So the moment arrived where I actually had to, you know, give. It was really odd. I was excited. I couldn’t wait. In my heart, I knew I may never know the outcome since we were going to give anonymously, but I still wasn’t deterred.

We gave the gift anonymously and, amazingly, we were fortunate to get some feedback that I doubt I will ever forget. “As I sit here bawling my eyes out, please thank whomever this gift is from. This means so much to us… They’ll never know.”

Suddenly, this giving thing stopped being about the money, about what I could buy, about retirement, about… me. It started to be about blessing someone else—actually meeting a need.

Sometimes people are just going through a tough time and simply need financial support. It may be their fault or it may not be. It simply doesn’t matter, though, because what we’ve been blessed with isn’t ours anyway. This can be tough to remember, but here’s to hoping we can continue giving and giving generously—even if it means tweaking our budget to meet our giving instead of just budgeting to give.

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