M. Gary Neuman's Marriage Action Plan
Step 1: Fight for Your Marriage
Step 2: Set Aside Time to Talk About Money
Step 3: Go Outside of Yourself
Step 4: Bring the Kids On Board
Step 5: Keep Living as a Couple
"Make that decision. Look at each other, hold each other and shake hands," Gary says. "[Say,] 'We are are absolutely going to get through this.' We don't have to be perfect. We just have to be really honest."
"It's crucial to have almost a business meeting where it's contained," Gary says. Talk about finances for 30 minutes or an hour, and then move on. "Look at the reality, then don't talk about it again until the next meeting. We don't want it constantly bleeding over into every conversation."
"When we're depressed, we tend to keep everything within," Gary says. "We need to go out—go to family, friends, ask what they're doing. Everybody is suffering in some way. The more you network, the more you find out."
If you don't have anyone to talk to, Gary suggests DebtorsAnonymous.org, which has online support groups.
"Sit them down as a family," Gary says. "[Tell them:] 'We're going to get through this. There might be some changes; we might have to cut back on some things. We'll learn what necessities are.'"
Don't get too specific, Gary says, like telling them exactly how much money you have. "Just let them know that there are changes and that's okay," he says. "[Say,] 'Families go through changes...but we're going to be in love with each other, and that's all we need to get through anything."
You can still go out on a date night, Gary says, just don't spend money. "The best date night my wife and I ever went on, and we've done it for years, we go to an old age home," he says. "It's free, and I guarantee you will feel great when you leave. You give to people, you learn about these wonderful people who have things to say and things to share. Go help others."
The most important thing is to keep acting as a couple in love. "Marriage is not about just having fun or good feelings when there's good times," Gary says. "It's the decision that we're going to live together and always give and have meaningful, important times for each other no matter what's facing us."
See how Gary helped these couples repair their marriage
Get a script for talking to your kids about money
How to set a budget with your spouse