Author Topic: Spouse wants to tithe  (Read 9310 times)

DadJokes

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Spouse wants to tithe
« on: August 12, 2019, 08:12:13 PM »
My wife has recently decided to become much more serious about her faith. I have never been religious, and she has known this. When we first got together, she was what I would consider a ďChristian in name only,Ē but she has started going to church every week, joined a life group, and tonight dropped a bombshell that she wants to tithe after returning from a church membership class.

Current income is around $96k, and we currently invest ~50%. My goal with investing is to reach a point where I can spend more time with our current and any future children. She proposed only tithing her income, which would come out to $4,400 per year in donations, adding roughly two years to our FI journey.

It means a lot to her, but I just canít wrap my head around why people fall for this stuff. Theyíre guilting people into giving money, to the point where it hurts relationships- all for a deity who, from my understanding of the Bible, is kind of an asshole even if he is real.

Unfortunately, all of the articles I found online were written to the spouse that wants to tithe, not the one that doesnít, so I feel like Iím in uncharted waters here.

Iím considering consenting to 10% of her income on the condition that I can still retire when I am currently projecting, at the expense of her having to continue working. Most importantly, I donít want a rift in our marriage, as I love her very much.

Thoughts?

middo

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Re: Spouse wants to tithe
« Reply #1 on: August 12, 2019, 08:22:40 PM »
My wife has been in and out of her religious journey over the years.  She has never wanted to tithe, but even when she tells me she has donated $10 when they hand out the plate, I do shudder a little. I tend to ask her if she gets $10 worth of enjoyment out of the situation.  If she does, that is fine with me.

Maybe you could go back to some sort of deal with her?  How would she feel if you wanted to spend $4400 per year on a hobby you just fell in love with?  Maybe skydiving or motorcycling?  I think this needs to be part of the discussion. 

Any relationship will have its give and take situations.  I support my wife's interest in faith even though I don't have any.  But I would be concerned if I was excluded from anything she feels is important.

Frankies Girl

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Re: Spouse wants to tithe
« Reply #2 on: August 12, 2019, 08:34:39 PM »
I'd use extreme caution about this type of situation. Just because you don't believe, you could make her feel as if her faith is somehow wrong or otherwise cause a rift in your relationship that could end it eventually. Your few lines of summary are pretty harsh, so I can only imagine how you're dealing with it WITH her, and it ain't likely to bode well for y'all if that comes across in any shape or form.

She is apparently very drawn to the idea of rediscovering her faith. Don't denigrate it to her. She already knows that you're not religious, so I would tell her that despite your lack of belief, if it is important to her to recommit to her religion/beliefs AND tithing is something that she feels she must do, then you support HER doing so with HER income. Help her figure out that amount and tell her she has your full support. And make sure to NOT harp on the lack of understanding or calling "her" god an asshole. And don't start in on the bookkeeping stuff about how SHE will have to keep working and you're going to keep saving and FIRE without her... it sounds really... bad. You're a team; if you start bringing in the whole "I get mine, don't care about what happens to you" stuff, well geeze, might as well get the divorce papers ready to go, because you couldn't be more clear about how little you do actually care about her. If you love her and want to be with her forever then you need to compromise and remember this is a part of her that makes up the whole. You can't pick and choose the pieces you want her to have - either accept that this is something she wants/is, and do your best to work with her on it in a loving and compassionate manner.

You should probably have many sitdowns with her over the next few months/years to see what is driving her to become more religious. She sounds like something has been flipped in her that is pretty life-changing to go so hard into being a Christian again, and you need to understand it even if you don't share her beliefs.

It's not a requirement for a couple to have the same faith; but it is vital that you both are understanding and supportive of the other's right to have or not have any. And to have the respect of their partners to practice their religion (or in your case, not pressure you into believing) in whatever way they see fit to do so.



« Last Edit: August 12, 2019, 08:40:35 PM by Frankies Girl »

SunnyDays

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Re: Spouse wants to tithe
« Reply #3 on: August 12, 2019, 09:04:30 PM »
I'm not religious at all, so I may be wrong, but was tithing not required prior to taxes being a "thing?"  I do think that that involuntary pay cheque deduction should be considered as a contribution towards helping others, since it funds social programs.  So maybe tithe a lower percentage to account for this?  If she insists on 10 %, is that based on gross or net income?

DadJokes

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Re: Spouse wants to tithe
« Reply #4 on: August 12, 2019, 09:19:06 PM »
I think she's fairly aware of my feelings regarding religion. I've also been very supportive up to this point. I attend church with her and even go to a life group every week. Heck, I grew up in church and have a far more extensive knowledge of the Bible (as well as the history of the religion) than she does.

I sat down with a spreadsheet just now and saw that this concession would only increase our time until FI by about a year if I continue to work or 18 months if I still retire on schedule. That difference is small enough that it's going to be better that I accept this. Also, we're still a decade from FI, so who knows how it will all play out?

What really concerns me is that my views have not changed since we have met, but I am being asked to support her changing views, when I can see that those changing views are going to create a divide, regardless of how I respond to this particular request.

v8rx7guy

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Re: Spouse wants to tithe
« Reply #5 on: August 12, 2019, 09:35:35 PM »
Do you not give money to any charity at all?  It would seem hard for me to feel good about getting super wealthy without helping others along the way.  Maybe look at the tithes as giving to charity, that may help you make sense of it.  Ask for a record of where and how the church spends its funds, most churches are very open about how they spend their money and you will likely see that they support a lot of good causes in your community.

DadJokes

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Re: Spouse wants to tithe
« Reply #6 on: August 12, 2019, 09:42:31 PM »
Do you not give money to any charity at all?  It would seem hard for me to feel good about getting super wealthy without helping others along the way.  Maybe look at the tithes as giving to charity, that may help you make sense of it.  Ask for a record of where and how the church spends its funds, most churches are very open about how they spend their money and you will likely see that they support a lot of good causes in your community.

Our current ďgivingĒ fund is about 1% of gross income, and we have generally used it to directly assist people, rather than going through an organization that uses a portion of the funds to pay its own staff. Also, I prefer to donate time to causes I support, rather than money. But I will be sure to get financial statements to see how the tithes are used.

v8rx7guy

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Re: Spouse wants to tithe
« Reply #7 on: August 12, 2019, 09:51:53 PM »
Here's some interesting advice Dave Ramsey gives a caller in a similar position as you:

https://youtu.be/OsMdRJA_pW8

It is definitely a tough position for you to be in especially since your spouse was not like this when you first got married.

Cassie

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Re: Spouse wants to tithe
« Reply #8 on: August 12, 2019, 10:00:07 PM »
If your wife is willing to keep working and let you retire then I would be fine with it.

WhiteTrashCash

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Re: Spouse wants to tithe
« Reply #9 on: August 12, 2019, 10:12:32 PM »
Just think of it as a form of insurance, which is kind of how it works where I'm from. If you ever run into trouble and need financial support from the church, they will look back at your contributions to the collection plate and they will pull out all the stops to help. With the way things are going with government aid programs, this sort of "insurance" will probably become more popular again in the near future.

Frankies Girl

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Re: Spouse wants to tithe
« Reply #10 on: August 12, 2019, 10:33:49 PM »
It's good that you're being supportive of her. Definitely keep the dialogue going and communicate with her about your feelings and encourage her to discuss this new change with you. And be firm in your non-belief without being dismissive of hers.

The goal here is to adapt to this and keep moving forward on whatever path your relationship needs to go that makes you both happy.

Does the church do good works? Even if you don't like/believe in the idea of organized religion, if the specific church your wife is attending is one that comes from a place of having a servant's heart, with the view of doing good works and serving their community, then adjusting to the idea of helping them do their job as an act of YOUR charity could likely to help make tithing a bit more palatable maybe?

There are some shit churches out there. I would think with your not being invested in the religious beliefs that could cloud your judgement of their acts of charity, you'd be able to tell if this was one of the good ones that serve and help, rather than fritter away the gifts given.


Hula Hoop

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Re: Spouse wants to tithe
« Reply #11 on: August 13, 2019, 01:23:02 AM »
Atheist here but I'd want to know what the church spends it's money on.  If it's feeding the homeless then that's one thing but if they're funding "missionaries" to go to poor countries and do "good deeds" like this woman then I'd see it differently. https://legacy.travelnoire.com/missionary-no-medical-training-killed-over-100-ugandan-children/


ditheca

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Re: Spouse wants to tithe
« Reply #12 on: August 13, 2019, 01:38:03 AM »
... She proposed only tithing her income, which would come out to $4,400 per year in donations, adding roughly two years to our FI journey.

It means a lot to her...

Iím considering consenting to 10% of her income on the condition that I can still retire when I am currently projecting, at the expense of her having to continue working. Most importantly, I donít want a rift in our marriage, as I love her very much.

I'm astonished that you feel a struggle to "consent" to her spending a relatively small amount of money (while you invest 50% of your combined take home pay!)  Dropping down to 45% is clearly not the end of the world.

I pay almost $4400 a year on one of my hobbies, and I suspect she cares more about religion than I do about any hobby.  She probably gets a lot more out of it, too.  Perhaps my perspective is skewed by the fact that my DW's lifetime earnings are less than $4400, but it sure sounds like you've got a great thing going in that marriage.

MrThatsDifferent

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Re: Spouse wants to tithe
« Reply #13 on: August 13, 2019, 02:35:07 AM »
... She proposed only tithing her income, which would come out to $4,400 per year in donations, adding roughly two years to our FI journey.

It means a lot to her...

Iím considering consenting to 10% of her income on the condition that I can still retire when I am currently projecting, at the expense of her having to continue working. Most importantly, I donít want a rift in our marriage, as I love her very much.

I'm astonished that you feel a struggle to "consent" to her spending a relatively small amount of money (while you invest 50% of your combined take home pay!)  Dropping down to 45% is clearly not the end of the world.

I pay almost $4400 a year on one of my hobbies, and I suspect she cares more about religion than I do about any hobby.  She probably gets a lot more out of it, too.  Perhaps my perspective is skewed by the fact that my DW's lifetime earnings are less than $4400, but it sure sounds like you've got a great thing going in that marriage.

Iím not religious at all and think this tithing stuff is insane, but I agree with this person that Iím more shocked by your consent. She gets to do her thing, you do yours. If she wants to burn money, fine. Itís not that much. Find something else to stress about, or even better, donít sweat the small stuff.

reeshau

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Re: Spouse wants to tithe
« Reply #14 on: August 13, 2019, 02:39:10 AM »
But I will be sure to get financial statements to see how the tithes are used.

You could also discuss giving your donation to specific church functions, rather than the general fund.  You could give it all to their support for a homeless shelter or food kitchen, for instance.  Or summer day camp for kids.  Or free childcare for low-income workers.  I'm sure some in the church community would find it a little unusual, and your wife may want to put some into the general fund, but you can have a lot of say in what your money does, particularly since it's relatively large.  One other downside may be that giving this way may be lumpy, as fundraising for these functions is generally seasonal / at special times.  But again, with thousands at stake, whoever is in charge of these functions will be flexible on receiving a large resource.

Khaetra

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Re: Spouse wants to tithe
« Reply #15 on: August 13, 2019, 04:40:00 AM »
Atheist here but I'd want to know what the church spends it's money on.  If it's feeding the homeless then that's one thing but if they're funding "missionaries" to go to poor countries and do "good deeds" like this woman then I'd see it differently. https://legacy.travelnoire.com/missionary-no-medical-training-killed-over-100-ugandan-children/

I agree, find out where/what the money is funding.  If it's helping the community, fine.  If it's helping keep the Pastor in a clown house with clown cars and vacations or as above with 'missionaries', then that deserved a hard no.

BicycleB

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Re: Spouse wants to tithe
« Reply #16 on: August 13, 2019, 05:06:38 AM »
Judgment call, but I suggest agreeing to her request. Just supporting her objectives as your spouse is sufficient reason, unless you have reason to believe the church is doing some active harm.

Unmarried atheist, but recently considered marriage to a devout Christian (1.5 year courtship). FIRE is a choice. Charity is a choice. Both are valid uses of funds that are, in the short term, discretionary. She's not asking to give up FIRE, or even tithe 10% of joint income. Personally I seek to donate 10% to charity anyway. The giving and the journey to FIRE are both parts of your marriage, just as FIRE will be assuming you are still married at that point. Best of luck in all of those things!




mistymoney

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Re: Spouse wants to tithe
« Reply #17 on: August 13, 2019, 05:57:59 AM »
it may be wise to divorce the object of her spending from the amount, and look at it as discretionary spending she is choosing to make. Up yours in proportion, and if you squirrel yours away in investments, then that is your choice.

Maybe put into a new/separate account, just to see what you each gets out of this funding of you choices.

Case

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Re: Spouse wants to tithe
« Reply #18 on: August 13, 2019, 06:36:54 AM »
Do you not give money to any charity at all?  It would seem hard for me to feel good about getting super wealthy without helping others along the way.  Maybe look at the tithes as giving to charity, that may help you make sense of it.  Ask for a record of where and how the church spends its funds, most churches are very open about how they spend their money and you will likely see that they support a lot of good causes in your community.

Our current ďgivingĒ fund is about 1% of gross income, and we have generally used it to directly assist people, rather than going through an organization that uses a portion of the funds to pay its own staff. Also, I prefer to donate time to causes I support, rather than money. But I will be sure to get financial statements to see how the tithes are used.

You got it.  You need to seriously talk with your wife and determine where your relationship stands in terms of your priorities/lives, and whether or not you two are still a compatible couple.

Discovering/rediscovering faith is sometimes a massive change in someone's life.  Because Christianity tends to be strict/inflexible when interpreted orthodoxically, it's important you understand your wife's beliefs, how you fit in, how she feels about your not being Christian, and how that may change over time.

A Fella from Stella

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Re: Spouse wants to tithe
« Reply #19 on: August 13, 2019, 08:06:12 AM »
Would you feel better if the tithe was to something you felt was better? For example, you can specify that a tithe go to the church's fund for widows and orphans, or its food pantry for local families.

And if you hate the idea of the church facilitating good work, is there a charity you both love, and could feel good tithing toward, like The Innocence Project? After all, why dump funds into a church and not know where it goes when you can help an innocent person from being beaten/worse in prison for something they didn't do.

dcozad999

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Re: Spouse wants to tithe
« Reply #20 on: August 13, 2019, 09:34:16 AM »
I'd use extreme caution about this type of situation. Just because you don't believe, you could make her feel as if her faith is somehow wrong or otherwise cause a rift in your relationship that could end it eventually. Your few lines of summary are pretty harsh, so I can only imagine how you're dealing with it WITH her, and it ain't likely to bode well for y'all if that comes across in any shape or form.

She is apparently very drawn to the idea of rediscovering her faith. Don't denigrate it to her. She already knows that you're not religious, so I would tell her that despite your lack of belief, if it is important to her to recommit to her religion/beliefs AND tithing is something that she feels she must do, then you support HER doing so with HER income. Help her figure out that amount and tell her she has your full support. And make sure to NOT harp on the lack of understanding or calling "her" god an asshole. And don't start in on the bookkeeping stuff about how SHE will have to keep working and you're going to keep saving and FIRE without her... it sounds really... bad. You're a team; if you start bringing in the whole "I get mine, don't care about what happens to you" stuff, well geeze, might as well get the divorce papers ready to go, because you couldn't be more clear about how little you do actually care about her. If you love her and want to be with her forever then you need to compromise and remember this is a part of her that makes up the whole. You can't pick and choose the pieces you want her to have - either accept that this is something she wants/is, and do your best to work with her on it in a loving and compassionate manner.

You should probably have many sitdowns with her over the next few months/years to see what is driving her to become more religious. She sounds like something has been flipped in her that is pretty life-changing to go so hard into being a Christian again, and you need to understand it even if you don't share her beliefs.

It's not a requirement for a couple to have the same faith; but it is vital that you both are understanding and supportive of the other's right to have or not have any. And to have the respect of their partners to practice their religion (or in your case, not pressure you into believing) in whatever way they see fit to do so.



I'd say this is excellent advice.

You may not understand it (I'm not a fan of it either), but tithing is extremely important to many Christians. Equating tithing with spending money on a hobby, as someone above suggested, would be an excellent way to cause a potentially permanent rift in the marriage.

I like the idea of giving a certain percentage of earnings to charity, but I do not agree with the amount of pressure put on parishioners to give it all to the church. Give them enough to keep the employees paid and the doors open. I don't need them to decide where the rest of my gift is going. I can choose the mission trips and other charities I want to support on my own.

Philociraptor

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Re: Spouse wants to tithe
« Reply #21 on: August 13, 2019, 09:55:26 AM »
I think if my wife were to get back into religion we would follow your plan. Since it's discretionary spending it's similar to an expensive car or hobby, and since the benefits are 100% asymmetrical it shouldn't be controversial for you to keep to the original FIRE date without the spending and have her work the extra bit to fund it in perpetuity. Of course you should be respectful of her irrational beliefs, but you had a plan together and she's suddenly trying to change that plan on you; you should both be making concessions.

partdopy

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Re: Spouse wants to tithe
« Reply #22 on: August 13, 2019, 09:59:03 AM »
$4,400 a year, in the big scheme of things, is not worth an argument with a spouse that is otherwise financially responsible.  Sure, math and compound interest makes the number bigger, but money isn't everything - its used to afford happiness and satisfaction, so if this provides her with that I wouldn't argue.  Especially if it is from her income.

DadJokes

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Re: Spouse wants to tithe
« Reply #23 on: August 13, 2019, 10:24:29 AM »
$4,400 a year, in the big scheme of things, is not worth an argument with a spouse that is otherwise financially responsible.  Sure, math and compound interest makes the number bigger, but money isn't everything - its used to afford happiness and satisfaction, so if this provides her with that I wouldn't argue.  Especially if it is from her income.

I am in agreement for the most part. The difference between the two plans results in a difference of ~$140k by my currently projected FI date, which means 12-18 additional months of working. That I can live with.

My real concern is that tithing is only the beginning. I don't want this issue of her changing views on religion to create a divide in our relationship. Scripture directly ties marriage to faith. It's not inconceivable that she will believe that she has to choose between her faith and our marriage at some point, even if I support her throughout her journey.

NonprofitER

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Re: Spouse wants to tithe
« Reply #24 on: August 13, 2019, 11:06:29 AM »
I totally understand your fears/concerns.

One resource suggestion:
In Faith and In Doubt: How Religious Believers and Non-Believers Can Create Strong Marriages and Loving Families - by Dale McGowan
https://www.amazon.com/Faith-Doubt-Religious-Believers-Nonbelievers/dp/0814433723

I'm also an atheist/humanist, as is my spouse. But we were both nominally religious when we got married and became increasingly less so early in our marriage. My DH's family is very evangelical though, so its a sticking point in terms of how we're raising our child (or more accurately, failing to raise her with religion).  We found Dale McGowan as a result of his "Parenting Beyond Belief" blog and books. He's a wonderful author. He is also a humanist/atheist, and approaches the issues of parenting/families very practically.  He also started what I think is the largest humanist philanthropic foundation to date?  Anyway, his books might have some gems for you both as you navigate into a new era of your marriage and maintain strong connection with different religious views.
 

GuitarStv

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Re: Spouse wants to tithe
« Reply #25 on: August 13, 2019, 11:14:32 AM »
Approach the situation carefully.  I'd say that differences in religion, family/friends, and money are the three most likely reasons for a couple to break up.

jps

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Re: Spouse wants to tithe
« Reply #26 on: August 13, 2019, 11:14:56 AM »
Scripture directly ties marriage to faith. It's not inconceivable that she will believe that she has to choose between her faith and our marriage at some point, even if I support her throughout her journey.

I hope this isn't the case. Here's why:

During the first century a bunch of people who were already married converted to Christianity, and their spouse didn't always convert with them. We know this, because Paul gave the Corinthians instructions on what to do if they converted after they were married and their spouse didn't. It boils down to this: "if your non-Christian spouse is still cool with being married to you, then stay married to them." So even though marriage and faith are very closely tied together for Christians, it is more important to live at peace with your spouse if one of you converts and the other doesn't (this is kinda what it sounds like in your case, with your spouse becoming more serious about faith after being married to you).

…owynd

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Re: Spouse wants to tithe
« Reply #27 on: August 13, 2019, 11:17:03 AM »
My real concern is that tithing is only the beginning. I don't want this issue of her changing views on religion to create a divide in our relationship. Scripture directly ties marriage to faith. It's not inconceivable that she will believe that she has to choose between her faith and our marriage at some point, even if I support her throughout her journey.

I hope that your spouse has found a good church (i.e. not a cult-like following of one pastor) and that this never becomes an issue for the two of you.  Scripturally, she should not have to choose between her faith and your marriage (1 Corinthians 7:13).  It sounds like the life group is providing her with a sense of community which is a really good and important thing.  Do you think that your spouse's increased interest in religion has been a net positive for her so far? 

GuitarStv

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Re: Spouse wants to tithe
« Reply #28 on: August 13, 2019, 11:21:19 AM »
Scripture directly ties marriage to faith. It's not inconceivable that she will believe that she has to choose between her faith and our marriage at some point, even if I support her throughout her journey.

I hope this isn't the case. Here's why:

During the first century a bunch of people who were already married converted to Christianity, and their spouse didn't always convert with them. We know this, because Paul gave the Corinthians instructions on what to do if they converted after they were married and their spouse didn't. It boils down to this: "if your non-Christian spouse is still cool with being married to you, then stay married to them." So even though marriage and faith are very closely tied together for Christians, it is more important to live at peace with your spouse if one of you converts and the other doesn't (this is kinda what it sounds like in your case, with your spouse becoming more serious about faith after being married to you).


There's always biblical support for you simply putting your foot down and telling her what to do to.  It could technically be framed that to follow her religion she must also obey you:


Wives, submit to your husbands as you submit to the Lord.
The husband is the head of the wife, just as Christ is the head of the church people. The church is his body and he saved it.
Wives should obey their husbands in everything, just as the church people obey Christ.
  - Ephesians 5:22-24


:P

jps

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Re: Spouse wants to tithe
« Reply #29 on: August 13, 2019, 11:44:32 AM »
Scripture directly ties marriage to faith. It's not inconceivable that she will believe that she has to choose between her faith and our marriage at some point, even if I support her throughout her journey.

I hope this isn't the case. Here's why:

During the first century a bunch of people who were already married converted to Christianity, and their spouse didn't always convert with them. We know this, because Paul gave the Corinthians instructions on what to do if they converted after they were married and their spouse didn't. It boils down to this: "if your non-Christian spouse is still cool with being married to you, then stay married to them." So even though marriage and faith are very closely tied together for Christians, it is more important to live at peace with your spouse if one of you converts and the other doesn't (this is kinda what it sounds like in your case, with your spouse becoming more serious about faith after being married to you).


There's always biblical support for you simply putting your foot down and telling her what to do to.  It could technically be framed that to follow her religion she must also obey you:


Wives, submit to your husbands as you submit to the Lord.
The husband is the head of the wife, just as Christ is the head of the church people. The church is his body and he saved it.
Wives should obey their husbands in everything, just as the church people obey Christ.
  - Ephesians 5:22-24


:P

I like your paraphrase, that's pretty good! A GuitarStv original :)

ericbonabike

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Re: Spouse wants to tithe
« Reply #30 on: August 13, 2019, 11:51:39 AM »
Is very difficult being in a mixed marriage.
Believer vs Non-Believer
Mustachian vs Spendypants
Fit vs Couch potato
If you understand, no explaining is necessary.  If you don't understand, then no amount of explanation is sufficient.

I spent a lot of years married to a woman on the other end of the spectrum.  We didn't start out that way, but we drifted that way over a span of almost two decades.  And in the end, neither of us liked who the other person was.


scrunchythief

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Re: Spouse wants to tithe
« Reply #31 on: August 13, 2019, 01:16:34 PM »
Maybe another way would be to split the tithe?  My church recommends 5% go to the church and another 5% go to another charity.  So  maybe you could do that and find a charity you both like.  Maybe a little bit of a compromise and it gets you involved in picking a charity, without having to be actually involved with her religion. 

To your other concerns, other people have already pointed out that it would be unbiblical for her to leave.  But it still sucks to have that worry.  I don't have good advice on that, except to show that you support her in this if you can, since it seems important to her.

Fomerly known as something

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Re: Spouse wants to tithe
« Reply #32 on: August 13, 2019, 02:10:30 PM »
I think she's fairly aware of my feelings regarding religion. I've also been very supportive up to this point. I attend church with her and even go to a life group every week. Heck, I grew up in church and have a far more extensive knowledge of the Bible (as well as the history of the religion) than she does.

I sat down with a spreadsheet just now and saw that this concession would only increase our time until FI by about a year if I continue to work or 18 months if I still retire on schedule. That difference is small enough that it's going to be better that I accept this. Also, we're still a decade from FI, so who knows how it will all play out?

What really concerns me is that my views have not changed since we have met, but I am being asked to support her changing views, when I can see that those changing views are going to create a divide, regardless of how I respond to this particular request.

You and she will both change as you continue to be married.  If you stay married it will be due to how you adapt to the change.  People are always evolving.  This will not be the last life change that either of you make if you stay married.

slappy

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Re: Spouse wants to tithe
« Reply #33 on: August 13, 2019, 02:27:14 PM »
My wife has recently decided to become much more serious about her faith. I have never been religious, and she has known this. When we first got together, she was what I would consider a ďChristian in name only,Ē but she has started going to church every week, joined a life group, and tonight dropped a bombshell that she wants to tithe after returning from a church membership class.

Current income is around $96k, and we currently invest ~50%. My goal with investing is to reach a point where I can spend more time with our current and any future children. She proposed only tithing her income, which would come out to $4,400 per year in donations, adding roughly two years to our FI journey.

It means a lot to her, but I just canít wrap my head around why people fall for this stuff. Theyíre guilting people into giving money, to the point where it hurts relationships- all for a deity who, from my understanding of the Bible, is kind of an asshole even if he is real.

Unfortunately, all of the articles I found online were written to the spouse that wants to tithe, not the one that doesnít, so I feel like Iím in uncharted waters here.

Iím considering consenting to 10% of her income on the condition that I can still retire when I am currently projecting, at the expense of her having to continue working. Most importantly, I donít want a rift in our marriage, as I love her very much.

Thoughts?

How recent is her interest in the church? Is it possible that it's one of those things that she might jump into head on and then cool off after awhile?

If you have concerns about the future of the marriage, maybe look into marriage counseling now. I read somewhere that most couples get to counseling about six months too late. Maybe you could look into now in order to help you navigate the situation before it creates too much of a divide.


Rdy2Fire

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Re: Spouse wants to tithe
« Reply #34 on: August 13, 2019, 02:46:54 PM »
Sorry I have nothing against anyone's religious beliefs and I give to charities I choose but I'd not consent to this.

I mean if you're ok with her working and giving a percentage of her salary then that's fine but given you said she's aware of your beliefs vs hers in regards to religion I'd not change my plan for this. Again I totally believe in charity and giving back and think everyone should give back in some way, time, money, etc but this would be a no. If I was to agree to this, in some way, then it would be x% of each of our salaries/total income with mine going to my charities and hers going to hers (the Church). Maybe there is a happy medium of giving less to the church and her working for/with the church after retirement after-all time is money :) 

DeniseNJ

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Re: Spouse wants to tithe
« Reply #35 on: August 13, 2019, 03:05:30 PM »
I think tithing is when the rich give to the poor.  You aren't rich yet.  When you become FI then you can give your tithe but outside of small projects or causes I care about, I wouldn't contribute 10% (!) to any organization on the regular.

That wasn't the question of course.  I think you should talk to your wife and come to a decision together regarding charitable giving and how much of your budget should go to that and then give to various causes you both care about rather than just her church.  Or you can each do your own thing but it will eat away at your marriage bc it will show that you two have different values and irreconcilable differences.

thesis

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Re: Spouse wants to tithe
« Reply #36 on: August 13, 2019, 03:06:06 PM »
It depends on why she's giving the 10%. If it's some scammy megachurch, then stay clear of that. But most churches really do make good use of the tithes and offerings that they receive. If they have a food pantry, you could even just buy food to donate with the money (sometimes that can even be fun). Or, you can ask her to consider starting to give at 2% and slowly raise this if it feels right to her. Giving in general is not antithetical to FI/mustachianism :)

Frankies Girl

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Re: Spouse wants to tithe
« Reply #37 on: August 13, 2019, 03:07:15 PM »
Sorry I have nothing against anyone's religious beliefs and I give to charities I choose but I'd not consent to this.

I mean if you're ok with her working and giving a percentage of her salary then that's fine but given you said she's aware of your beliefs vs hers in regards to religion I'd not change my plan for this. Again I totally believe in charity and giving back and think everyone should give back in some way, time, money, etc but this would be a no. If I was to agree to this, in some way, then it would be x% of each of our salaries/total income with mine going to my charities and hers going to hers (the Church). Maybe there is a happy medium of giving less to the church and her working for/with the church after retirement after-all time is money :)


You have to separate the reason/direction the money is going from the impact on the relationship.

If you say no to someone on this sort of thing, then they may be fine with your disagreement, but you are drawing a line in the sand as it were. A line in your relationship. Not saying this is right or wrong, but if you and your partner start drawing lines like this... it's a good chance that this will be the beginning of the end of the relationship itself.



~~~



There is no such thing as complete, total unconditional love in a healthy adult relationship. We all have lines and boundaries based on our own beliefs, faith, morals and some are more flexible than others, but without understanding you're missing the big picture and are risking the entire relationship by shutting down or attempting to control your partner. You can choose to walk along side them and support them in the new direction without actually agreeing with the direction they're choosing to take, or you can say, "no, I am not going to follow or support this path you're walking" for whatever reason - and this widens the gap.

And at some point, one or both of you are going to stop and look for your partner - and they may be so far away that you can't even see them in your life any more. And religious belief is a dangerous subject to "refuse to consent" about.

Big thing to think about: how much damage is just agreeing this is okay if she wants to do this going to hurt your happiness? Lots? Just annoying, or you feel the overwhelming need to shut this down due to your own perceptions on rightness/wrongness? What is your motive for disagreeing and what is going to be the net impact if you say yes or no?

Again, not saying that having boundaries or change in things like this is good or bad thing. But if your goal is to preserve your relationship, then you have to compromise sometimes. That is why it's important to have empathy and understand WHY the person you love is choosing X or Y when they know your feelings are about A or B, and at least being supportive of them insofar as that thing you don't agree on is a part of them and important to acknowledge and respect, and continue to love and support them to the best of your ability.

Having and showing contempt for things that are important to your partner is very damaging to the relationship. You don't have to love everything they do, or support them to the detriment of your own happiness, but THEIR happiness should be at least as important as your own.

« Last Edit: August 13, 2019, 03:10:36 PM by Frankies Girl »

SimpleCycle

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Re: Spouse wants to tithe
« Reply #38 on: August 13, 2019, 04:11:24 PM »
Is tithing required for church members?

Our church requires financial contribution for church members, but the amount is at your discretion.  This is not required to attend church or any church activities, just to be a voting member of the congregation.

Charitable giving and church contributions are an area where I feel many members of this board are needlessly inflexible.  All sorts of arrangements can work in conjunction with FIRE goals.  The issue here though seems to be that it is not a goal you both share.  However, I can tell one of your goals is to support your wife and keep your marriage strong.  So Iíd try to reframe the tithe as fitting in with that goal.

You are young and far from FIRE.  There is a good chance you will FIRE faster than your projection and it wonít really matter financially in the end.  If you are in this for the long haul, youíll need to make decisions based on your values rather than the spreadsheet.

That said, any big change in a marriage is scary and needs working through.  I commend you for supporting her, and you have the right to have her support in return as you discuss how her renewed religious interest fits into your marriage.  Keep the lines of communication open and express what you are feeling.  I hope doing that will help her see your perspective and allow you both to feel heard.

Rdy2Fire

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Re: Spouse wants to tithe
« Reply #39 on: August 13, 2019, 06:04:59 PM »
Sorry I have nothing against anyone's religious beliefs and I give to charities I choose but I'd not consent to this.

I mean if you're ok with her working and giving a percentage of her salary then that's fine but given you said she's aware of your beliefs vs hers in regards to religion I'd not change my plan for this. Again I totally believe in charity and giving back and think everyone should give back in some way, time, money, etc but this would be a no. If I was to agree to this, in some way, then it would be x% of each of our salaries/total income with mine going to my charities and hers going to hers (the Church). Maybe there is a happy medium of giving less to the church and her working for/with the church after retirement after-all time is money :)


You have to separate the reason/direction the money is going from the impact on the relationship.

If you say no to someone on this sort of thing, then they may be fine with your disagreement, but you are drawing a line in the sand as it were. A line in your relationship. Not saying this is right or wrong, but if you and your partner start drawing lines like this... it's a good chance that this will be the beginning of the end of the relationship itself.



~~~



There is no such thing as complete, total unconditional love in a healthy adult relationship. We all have lines and boundaries based on our own beliefs, faith, morals and some are more flexible than others, but without understanding you're missing the big picture and are risking the entire relationship by shutting down or attempting to control your partner. You can choose to walk along side them and support them in the new direction without actually agreeing with the direction they're choosing to take, or you can say, "no, I am not going to follow or support this path you're walking" for whatever reason - and this widens the gap.

And at some point, one or both of you are going to stop and look for your partner - and they may be so far away that you can't even see them in your life any more. And religious belief is a dangerous subject to "refuse to consent" about.

Big thing to think about: how much damage is just agreeing this is okay if she wants to do this going to hurt your happiness? Lots? Just annoying, or you feel the overwhelming need to shut this down due to your own perceptions on rightness/wrongness? What is your motive for disagreeing and what is going to be the net impact if you say yes or no?

Again, not saying that having boundaries or change in things like this is good or bad thing. But if your goal is to preserve your relationship, then you have to compromise sometimes. That is why it's important to have empathy and understand WHY the person you love is choosing X or Y when they know your feelings are about A or B, and at least being supportive of them insofar as that thing you don't agree on is a part of them and important to acknowledge and respect, and continue to love and support them to the best of your ability.

Having and showing contempt for things that are important to your partner is very damaging to the relationship. You don't have to love everything they do, or support them to the detriment of your own happiness, but THEIR happiness should be at least as important as your own.

I agree with what you're saying.. I guess my point is there would be no contempt but it would be my line. Not necessarily the giving or giving more just, to your point, there are boundaries and there needs to be support for the other partner wanting to earn and retire as much as the other partner wanting to give money to charity. As I said in my original post basically, I can see a happy medium and balance there but if one party can't the line would be drawn for me.

With all that said.. I see the other side that someone said above about it's a small portion of money compared to what they are investing so if it made her happy and we had plenty then you're right about persevering the relationship but I think I'd like an equal say as to where the contributions went if I wasn't a church/religious supporter
« Last Edit: August 13, 2019, 06:09:02 PM by Rdy2Fire »

CharlesBronzee

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Re: Spouse wants to tithe
« Reply #40 on: August 13, 2019, 07:37:36 PM »
Iím a Christian husband and I second the suggestion above - lovingly invoke Ephesians 5:22-24.  :)

Perhaps you can offer in exchange to attend more church activities with her.  It wonít cost you a cent and Iím sure she would like that.

The truth is God doesnít need your wifeís tithes nor anyone elseís.  The tithe is a test to us believers and helps us understand what our true priorities are.

Frankies Girl

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Re: Spouse wants to tithe
« Reply #41 on: August 13, 2019, 07:54:39 PM »
Sorry I have nothing against anyone's religious beliefs and I give to charities I choose but I'd not consent to this.

I mean if you're ok with her working and giving a percentage of her salary then that's fine but given you said she's aware of your beliefs vs hers in regards to religion I'd not change my plan for this. Again I totally believe in charity and giving back and think everyone should give back in some way, time, money, etc but this would be a no. If I was to agree to this, in some way, then it would be x% of each of our salaries/total income with mine going to my charities and hers going to hers (the Church). Maybe there is a happy medium of giving less to the church and her working for/with the church after retirement after-all time is money :)


You have to separate the reason/direction the money is going from the impact on the relationship.

If you say no to someone on this sort of thing, then they may be fine with your disagreement, but you are drawing a line in the sand as it were. A line in your relationship. Not saying this is right or wrong, but if you and your partner start drawing lines like this... it's a good chance that this will be the beginning of the end of the relationship itself.



~~~



There is no such thing as complete, total unconditional love in a healthy adult relationship. We all have lines and boundaries based on our own beliefs, faith, morals and some are more flexible than others, but without understanding you're missing the big picture and are risking the entire relationship by shutting down or attempting to control your partner. You can choose to walk along side them and support them in the new direction without actually agreeing with the direction they're choosing to take, or you can say, "no, I am not going to follow or support this path you're walking" for whatever reason - and this widens the gap.

And at some point, one or both of you are going to stop and look for your partner - and they may be so far away that you can't even see them in your life any more. And religious belief is a dangerous subject to "refuse to consent" about.

Big thing to think about: how much damage is just agreeing this is okay if she wants to do this going to hurt your happiness? Lots? Just annoying, or you feel the overwhelming need to shut this down due to your own perceptions on rightness/wrongness? What is your motive for disagreeing and what is going to be the net impact if you say yes or no?

Again, not saying that having boundaries or change in things like this is good or bad thing. But if your goal is to preserve your relationship, then you have to compromise sometimes. That is why it's important to have empathy and understand WHY the person you love is choosing X or Y when they know your feelings are about A or B, and at least being supportive of them insofar as that thing you don't agree on is a part of them and important to acknowledge and respect, and continue to love and support them to the best of your ability.

Having and showing contempt for things that are important to your partner is very damaging to the relationship. You don't have to love everything they do, or support them to the detriment of your own happiness, but THEIR happiness should be at least as important as your own.

I agree with what you're saying.. I guess my point is there would be no contempt but it would be my line. Not necessarily the giving or giving more just, to your point, there are boundaries and there needs to be support for the other partner wanting to earn and retire as much as the other partner wanting to give money to charity. As I said in my original post basically, I can see a happy medium and balance there but if one party can't the line would be drawn for me.

With all that said.. I see the other side that someone said above about it's a small portion of money compared to what they are investing so if it made her happy and we had plenty then you're right about persevering the relationship but I think I'd like an equal say as to where the contributions went if I wasn't a church/religious supporter

Apologies as I wasn't clear about the contempt part - I wasn't suggesting that you yourself was expressing that towards anyone, just restating in general since the OP's initial post had some statements that came across dismissive and derogatory towards the subject at hand (religion), and it's another thing that people sometimes forget to consider in discussions with things that involve opinions that can be mistaken for fact.


ElleFiji

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Re: Spouse wants to tithe
« Reply #42 on: August 13, 2019, 08:03:15 PM »
Another aspect of tithing that I think makes sense to me as a non religious person, is that you're already using church resources 2 church attendances/week and 2 group attendances... In my area classes and activities are 15-25/hour. So that gives me 60-100$ worth of church/week. 3120-5200/year.

Plus you have access to other services and groups. Plus the church is probably doing outreach programs that your wife finds valuable. And on top of that, I do think that there is a moral duty for the more fortunate to help the less fortunate. I'm failing at living up to my own standards right now, so I can understand if your wife feels like she's not doing her best

mtnrider

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Re: Spouse wants to tithe
« Reply #43 on: August 13, 2019, 09:17:11 PM »
You may end up richer as a result of tithing.

No, I'm not talking about Luke 6:38.  You're non-religious.  Instead, consider:
 
  • If this is a good community church, you can get more out of the community by helping keep the church around.  If you have kids, it can provide an ethical framework for them.  If you lose a job, you might be able to reach out to the community for help finding a new one.  Many churches provide good services. 
  • If you put your foot down, it could lead to resentment.  Resentment can end up leading to divorce.  Divorce is expensive.

But also weigh that if the church is an in-your-face evangelical church, you may not be able to reconcile giving to them.  If they're like the Westboro Baptist Church, you (IMHO) have an ethical obligation to not be associated with them.  I don't think this church is either, but the strawman argument may be helpful to determine your boundaries.

I like the idea of @scrunchythief .  Raise the idea of splitting the tithe 5% to her charity and 5% to yours.

Manchester

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Re: Spouse wants to tithe
« Reply #44 on: August 14, 2019, 05:19:23 AM »
I suppose I would view it as 'it's her money and she can do what she wants'. 

Could she not - back load her tithing though?  Using this calculator https://www.thecalculatorsite.com/finance/calculators/compoundinterestcalculator.php you can figure out the real cost of tithing. 

$4,500 per year will cost her over $80k in retirement money in 10 years time.  If she instead didn't tithe until she reached FI, in let's say 10 years time, she could then live off her investments and donate her entire salary to the church for a year or two?  She could also leave a big chunk of her estate to the church when she dies. 

Just a thought?

slappy

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Re: Spouse wants to tithe
« Reply #45 on: August 14, 2019, 06:07:09 AM »
Another aspect of tithing that I think makes sense to me as a non religious person, is that you're already using church resources 2 church attendances/week and 2 group attendances... In my area classes and activities are 15-25/hour. So that gives me 60-100$ worth of church/week. 3120-5200/year.

Plus you have access to other services and groups. Plus the church is probably doing outreach programs that your wife finds valuable. And on top of that, I do think that there is a moral duty for the more fortunate to help the less fortunate. I'm failing at living up to my own standards right now, so I can understand if your wife feels like she's not doing her best

Yes. This!

My husband was raised Catholic and has issues with the church. He always says the church is a business. Well of course it is. You expect them to provide a building and worship services for free? My father in law used to put $1 in the collection plate every week. That's how much a Netflix rental (used to) cost. You mean to tell me you don't get more value of going to church than you do out of renting a movie? It doesn't make sense to me. If mustachianism is about not spending money on things that don't bring value to your life, then tithing would seem to fit in perfectly. To me, it's spending money on something that brings value to your life. People spend more on gym memberships that they never even go to. Yet going to church every Sunday doesn't deserve something?

We don't currently go to church, but when we did, we didn't give a ton of money. Mostly because we are somewhat poor. We let the kids give $1 to the plate and we would send in checks for about $100 a month. We felt good about it because we have personally seen the priest hand out gift cards to homeless people.

Sounds like OP is less concerned about the money and more concerned about the impact that her increasing interest in religion will have on the relationship.

FICurious

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Re: Spouse wants to tithe
« Reply #46 on: August 14, 2019, 06:24:27 AM »
I'm in the same boat as you, but years ahead of you.

We'd always given to the Offerings each week. $20 here and there. After we went through Financial Peace, the wife was adamant that we tithe the 10%. I was very resistant. I'm more of a logic thinker and she's all heart and spirit. Sometimes this leads to disagreements. At first we agreed to split the tithe. One month would go to Church, the next month a charity. This worked out for awhile, but she wasn't really happy about it and asked to give it all to the Church.

End the end, I acquiesced. Why? For one, the Church gives us countless benefits. Not only to us personally, but to the community. I can see tangible effects of our tithes, whether it's supporting the Christmas store were those in need can 'shop' for gifts for their kids, or helping supply our neighbors who lost everything in a fire, or recently the tornados that wiped out many homes and businesses.

The second reason is that I love my wife more than I love money. Does it ever get any better seeing that tithe come out every month? No. My brain wants to do what you did, go right to my spreadsheets and figure out what this is really costing me. That will never work out. Tithing is an emotional thing, based on beliefs. Analytics will almost never sway the emotional pull.

So, we tithe. I watch around $800 go out the door every month.  Oh the things I could do with that! Plus, we are 8 months into a 2 year pledge...so that's and extra $500 a month...so $1300+ going out every month.  That hurts........BUT....my family has never been stronger. It helps that my Church is very open about finances and you can see the budget any time you like. The Pastor isn't out driving a McLaren or anything.

TLDR: I gave in to my wife's tithing need. In the end, I benefit more from her happiness than I do extra numbers in my spreadsheet. We can afford this extra money going out and still meet all of our needs because we live debt free and make other choices. This is her WHY. It's not mine, but its one of OUR WHYS. Marriage, right?

Steeze

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Re: Spouse wants to tithe
« Reply #47 on: August 14, 2019, 07:15:20 AM »
Definitely a tough spot, but I think your concession is necessary. Iíll echo others that have said to consider a charity that resonates with both of you for some portion of that money if possible. My parents always gave 10% of gross away to random families instead of the church as their tithe. My grandparents always gave directly to the church.

My grandfather is 5th generation pastor and my parents run their own satellite church, so religion has been a pretty big deal in my family. Only in the last few years have my parents gotten back into it in a big way. They are the ultra conservative southern Baptist type, or at least influenced. I have been atheist since I was in middle school and started questioning the whole thing in primary school despite being in private Christian schools or home schooled most of my childhood.

These days itís pretty awkward being around my parents / grandparents. I donít mind going to church or praying at meals or whatever, I was raised in that environment, and it is interesting to observe for many reasons. However, more and more my family is hoping I will find my faith again but I am as far from that as ever. Itís a weird thing. If they would just do their thing and not try to influence me it would be fine. But every time itís time to head home grandma is in tears asking me to accept Jesus. The tugging on the heart strings is killer. I get it, she doesnít want me to go to hell, but from the context of no afterlife itís a tough sell.

I always have planned on my parents living with me later in life since they have no savings, a mortgage, and will have less than 2k/mo in social security. Every time they are being belligerent about their political/religious beliefs it makes me question how that will work out. I will have to get a duplex or something. And what if I have kids? Do I want that influence in their life?

OP, I canít imagine going through that with my wife. It would be extremely difficult. No so much for me accepting her beliefs, but on her always hoping I would accept hers. I would feel like I was constantly living a lie or had something to hide. As others have mentioned being in a relationship where both people have opposite priorities is hard. My last serious relationship before getting married was to a spendthrift which inevitably caused a rift that could not be overcome. My wife is not very active and that is hard to overcome. Iím sure she feels about my constant requests to do/be active as i do about my family wanting me to be religious. I try to be conscious of this, but it is difficult.

In the end - my advice is to support and protect your wife no matter what. If you need to work an extra year, do it, and have a good attitude about it. Having a wife that loves you and supports you is worth a lot. Maybe itís my upbringing, but I would say that you are the head of household, the leader, and itís your duty to sacrifice yourself for the good of your family. If that means working an extra year to give your wife daily fulfillment, itís a smal price to pay. Protect her beliefs, make her feel safe and confident she is doing the right thing (even if you think that thing is unnecessary). Best of luck navigating this situation over the years. 10% of your income is a lot, but it is a small price to pay.


GuitarStv

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Re: Spouse wants to tithe
« Reply #48 on: August 14, 2019, 07:22:27 AM »
Why not let God decide what He needs from you?  Take 10% of your earnings in paper cash, go into the largest room of your house and throw the money up in the air.  However much money God needs from you, He can keep.  Pickup whatever God doesn't need and invest it in VTSAX.

mistymoney

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Re: Spouse wants to tithe
« Reply #49 on: August 14, 2019, 07:31:03 AM »
I'd use extreme caution about this type of situation. Just because you don't believe, you could make her feel as if her faith is somehow wrong or otherwise cause a rift in your relationship that could end it eventually. Your few lines of summary are pretty harsh, so I can only imagine how you're dealing with it WITH her, and it ain't likely to bode well for y'all if that comes across in any shape or form.

She is apparently very drawn to the idea of rediscovering her faith. Don't denigrate it to her. She already knows that you're not religious, so I would tell her that despite your lack of belief, if it is important to her to recommit to her religion/beliefs AND tithing is something that she feels she must do, then you support HER doing so with HER income. Help her figure out that amount and tell her she has your full support. And make sure to NOT harp on the lack of understanding or calling "her" god an asshole. And don't start in on the bookkeeping stuff about how SHE will have to keep working and you're going to keep saving and FIRE without her... it sounds really... bad. You're a team; if you start bringing in the whole "I get mine, don't care about what happens to you" stuff, well geeze, might as well get the divorce papers ready to go, because you couldn't be more clear about how little you do actually care about her. If you love her and want to be with her forever then you need to compromise and remember this is a part of her that makes up the whole. You can't pick and choose the pieces you want her to have - either accept that this is something she wants/is, and do your best to work with her on it in a loving and compassionate manner.

You should probably have many sitdowns with her over the next few months/years to see what is driving her to become more religious. She sounds like something has been flipped in her that is pretty life-changing to go so hard into being a Christian again, and you need to understand it even if you don't share her beliefs.

It's not a requirement for a couple to have the same faith; but it is vital that you both are understanding and supportive of the other's right to have or not have any. And to have the respect of their partners to practice their religion (or in your case, not pressure you into believing) in whatever way they see fit to do so.



I'd say this is excellent advice.

You may not understand it (I'm not a fan of it either), but tithing is extremely important to many Christians. Equating tithing with spending money on a hobby, as someone above suggested, would be an excellent way to cause a potentially permanent rift in the marriage.


I find this approach a little concerning. This indicates that the non-believer needs to somehow have a greater understanding of the spouse's beliefs than vice versa.

So basically - for a spouse who thinks tithing is flushing money down the toilet, it isn't enough that they agree to the spending as discretionary, they need to....what exactly? Pretend to see some greater picture that they don't see?

Because if you don't believe, and you don't see any value in churches or tithing, you need to pretend or cause a rift?