Something that may not come up in conversation, until after you’re married, are your views on charity and giving (e.g., gifts, meals for people in need, having people over for dinner, etc.). If one of you thinks one small gift for Christmas per immediate family is a sufficient amount of giving and the other wants to support several charities, bring food and gifts to all baby and wedding showers, and play Santa Claus to the entire children’s wing of your local hospital, you are going to have a number of disagreements! Therefore, having similar levels of generosity is fairly necessary in a marriage!
First of all, I don’t want to paint the more conservative person of the couple in a bad light. There can be good reasons for his or her holding back on additional giving (not including tithing). If you are living in a tiny apartment, eating rice and beans, and sleeping without heat on at night just to make ends meet, then it’s not the time to be buying a lot of gifts or volunteering to bring brownies to an event. However, if you are more conservative, and your spouse occasionally wants to bring a gift to a shower or make a meal for a struggling family, then sit down and look at your budget together and see what you two can do. It may take some sacrifice, but if it’s important to your sweetie, it’s important to ocassionally compromise toward generosity and try to find a way to make it happen.
If you’ve been reading our blog for a little while, it’s probably no surprise that I’m the giver in our family (not that Eric isn’t generous in his own right, it’s just that I have a tendency to default to giving). If Eric and I didn’t have a budget, and if I didn’t have to discuss major purchases with him, we probably would be eating rice and beans because I would spend half our money (or more) on gifts. Include bringing food to a few church events and a few charities calling and asking for money and we may have to sell our furniture. Thankfully, Eric and I haven’t had many money fights because we do have a budget on which we both agree, but it has been frustrating at times having to hold myself back at Christmas and birthdays when I’d like more to spend (even though, yes, we did agree to our giving budget amounts ~smile~).
If you and your sweetheart do not see eye-to-eye on how much to give (and when to give), that is not necessarily a reason to break up – it may just come down to differences between pink and blue. However, if your potential spouse is not generous and refuses to ever give unto others, that is a problem. The Christian life, and married life, is characterized by giving – monetarily, physically, and emotionally. We should use wisdom on where and how much to give, but if you are dating someone who never wants to give, chances are, you have found someone selfish who will always be on the lookout for how the circumstances affect him or her. Living with someone like this is absolutely no fun. If you marry someone who does not have a generous heart, you can plan on doing almost all of the giving.
Deciding on when and how much to give is one of many agreements you and your honey will need to make once you’re married. You don’t need to spend countless hours discussing it now, but it is a good idea to talk about it a bit to get an idea for how your sweetheart feels about giving. Take the time to observe your boyfriend or girlfriend in situations involving generosity. Does he or she have a hard time prying open his wallet or her purse when the church offering plate passes? Is there a groan every Christmas season when it is time for that person to buy gifts? Do you notice compassion when he or she hears of a suffering child or family?
These are important things to file away in your mind. It’s easy to say, “Yes, I’m a big giver,” when you are trying to impress a date, but it is hard to keep up a well-tuned act for months on end. Unless get married before really getting to know each other, you should have the chance to see the real him or her in action.
How generous are you? How generous is your boyfriend/girlfriend?