What If My Spouse Doesn’t Want To Tithe?

At a recent Financial Learning Experience a lady came to me with a heavy heart with a very serious question, “What if my husband doesn’t want to tithe but I do?  Wow!  Tough question.  Many couples are faced with this same challenge, and it seems to me it’s usually the man who doesn’t want to tithe.

When the I Was Broke. Now I’m Not. team is teaching we approach the subject of tithing from a Psalm 24:1, Matthew 25:14-28, Malachi 3:8-10 (and other verses) point of view.  We make it our mission to talk a lot more about the 90% than the 10%, but when we’re talking about the 10% our position is God owns it all, we’re just managers, we should bring the tithe to the church (God’s house) as an act of worship and  faith in Him and belief that He will continue to provide.  Our heart should be with Him – the provider, not our money or possessions – the provision.

We also strongly believe the Ephesians 5:21-33 principle that husbands and wives should love and respect each other.  There is extra emphasis in those verses about the “husband being the head” that confuses us when it comes to real world application.  The scripture also states “the two become one” when married (also stated in other places like Mark 10:8).  I’ve heard it said that the man might be the head but the woman is the body – which includes the neck that turns the head.

With love and respect for each other as the foundation for everything, husbands and wives are supposed to be on the same page – making decisions together – including financial decisions.  There should be total transparency in every area of life.  Many couples deal with disagreements regarding the tithe (or other money management decisions) by treating their resources as “his” and “hers” rather than “ours”.  Some married people (usually wives) tithe without their spouse knowing so that they can have the peace that they’re being obedient to the word and the hope that they won’t have to address the point of disagreement with their spouse.  My question would be, “how’s that working for you?”

I really do believe this is the approach couples should take to get on the same page with tithing.

Tithing Together

  • Talk – Not talking about it won’t accomplish anything.  Nagging about it won’t accomplish anything.  The first goal should be to at least agreeing to sit down together, with love and respect, to ask each other questions that get to the heart of the matter.  Is one spouse upset with God, the church, their spouse, their financial situation?  What is the root cause leading one spouse to not want to tithe?  Remember – love and respect with total transparency.
  • Pray – When total transparency is out on the table you need to pray, together, asking God to help you both learn and grow through the concerns that are present – ask for wisdom and guidance – ask that you will both be drawn closer to each other and to Him in the process – and that your decisions will be honored as you learn together how to honor God with His finances.
  • Read the Word (together) – Notice everything is TOGETHER.  Sit down and read the word.  Let it provide wisdom and guidance for your decisions to give, not give, to compromise showing love and respect to each other.
  • Watch God Work – God will work in your situation in ways you will never have control over trying to fix it all yourself.

Don’t expect your spouse to just change their mind immediately. It might take time.  The goal of the conversation should be to lovingly and respectfully flesh out important issues that may need to be addressed through prayer and study that can eventually lead you both to a point where you can enjoy tithing together.

That list might seem so cliche, but if this is a struggle in your marriage have you tried them?  Have you done it with love and respect in your heart?  At the end of the day all of this is a heart issue – the whole situation.  Let God work on your hearts, but you have to be seeking him.

I know this all assumes both spouses are believers.  Maybe I’ll post again about what to do if one spouse is not a believer.


  1. Why do you consider 10% sufficient? That’s not mentioned in the NT that I’m aware of. We should be giving much more than that IMO.

    • Good point Adam. I don’t consider 10% sufficient. I consider it the starting point. Shawna and I completely agree we should give much more than 10%, and we do.

      • Yeah it really depends on who you talk to on the subject. I’m not sure if he was completely serious or just food for thought but Frances Chan advocated for 50% based on Matthew 26:39. The reasoning is if you love your neighbor as yourself, you should be willing to give as much to your neighbor as you receive – 50/50.

        • Wow! Quite an interpretation. I don’t follow Chan very closely but when I do he is very thought provoking. What if your neighbor gives you everything – 100%?

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