Divorce, marital problems, and multiples

After telling my husband I would not watch the season premiere of Jon and Kate Plus 8 last night, I ended up tivoing it anyway and watching it. I was sad after the show and stayed up way too late thinking about it. What really got me was when Kate said divorce rates are so much higher for multiple parents and they thought they would beat that statistic. The other part that was very hard for me to watch was the kids asking Jon when he was coming home and telling him they missed him. I am a total believer the majority of reality tv is scripted, but those moments still took my breath away.

In the multiples community, you can’t help but hear of two very sad realities: children dying and divorce. Every time I hear of a sick or dying child, I hug my kids close and gain some perspective. After watching that show last night, I’m going to hug my husband close and gain some perspective. My husband and I have been through some very tough things together: his back problems and surgery, double unemployment, my hearing loss and surgery. Yet having twins was very hard on our marriage because there was so much to do, so much stress, so little sleep, so much worry, so little money, and so little time. As joyful as those early months were, they were also some of our hardest together.

My boys are three now and I can say that my marriage is as strong as it has ever been. Yet last night I realized I can always do more to show my appreciation, work on my marriage, and commit to staying happy together. I don’t think I’ll watch the rest of the season but for that perspective, I am thankful. I am just sorry the perspective had to come at such a high price for them.

35 thoughts on “Divorce, marital problems, and multiples

  1. Good points, Laura. I know Kate Gosselin gets a lot of flack for having a nagging, critical tone toward Jon — I’ve noticed more of this in myself since my twins were born and I am trying to remember to say “please” and “thank you”!

    Does anyone know the exact divorce rate, with sources, please? I certainly don’t question the theory! But I Googled it today and found mostly the same quote from Kate Gosselin, saying the rate was “like, triple.” And PubMed has just one Danish study from 1986, which is cited repeatedly.

  2. I also went back and forth about whether to watch or not watch the season premiere last night. In the end, my curiosity got the better of me, and I did watch the show. I was so saddened by what I saw- The separate interviews, Jon missing from the party planning, his daughter asking him not to go away anymore. My husband, of course, did not watch the show and seemed impatient as I tried to tell him how lucky I felt that our marriage was in a good place and how I hoped we’d never experience such difficult times. I think an extra long hug, would have gone over much better for the both of us, and perhaps will try that tonight. I normally only watch Jon and Kate on DVD, and am currently in the middle of season 4 where they’re just about to go to Hawaii to renew their vows. Don’t think I’ll be watching anymore Jon and Kate. It’s just way to sad now.

  3. I’m living that reality – that multiples put extra stress on a marriage, period. How couples handle (or don’t handle) that stress will indicate their marital survival.
    DH and I are probably not handling it all that well. One small thing which can turn major if couples let it, is housekeeping issues and differences. At our home, DH cannot tolerate much mess. I keep telling him that mess is inevitable with 3 kids. All the “cleaning up” is part of the stress, but it is caused by differing standards.
    Anyway, they boys turn two next week and quite frankly, I’m not in the party mood! I hope to snap out of it this week sometime.

  4. I too was left with infinite sadness last night after watching the show (which I also said I wouldn’t watch). Despite what I have thought about them both, I was truly sad for them.
    As a twin myself, my parents divorced by the time we were three. My DH and I have at best a very strained relationship lately. And even though they are one, I know it is affecting our twins. We snap at each other in front of the girls, we are not affectionate, it is not a happy home environment. And I know it is wrong.
    It makes me want to cry every time I think of the little girl asking her daddy when he was coming home. I remember asking that question a lot when I was young.
    Even though we are really struggling right now, the show made me realize last night I don’t want to have my girls grow up the way I did. Don’t get me wrong, my parents were loving people who did their best for my twin and I. I never thought it really affected me until I watched the show last night. I guess it brought back a lot of surpressed memories.
    Divorce is never an easy option. I’ve done it once already. I didn’t have children in the mix then. I think it is my duty as their mother to try my best to make this relationship work.
    I can’t believe I have Jon and Kate to thank for making me re-evaluate what is best for my family, and not just myself. I pray I never know their pain and sadness.

  5. I watched it last night too after saying I wasn’t going to. But I had a lot of ironing to do, so it just sort of happened. I felt horrible watching this couple go through this on screen while it seemed only months ago they renewed their vows.

    What bothered me the most is where they talked about doing what is best for the kids. Kate talked about her anger. Nowhere did they even say they still cared for each other.

    After it was over, I watched the season 4 finale where they talk about the future of the show. Kate says she loves her “job”, but Jon was tired of being Jon&KatePlus8 all the time. It’s obvious that he’s not on the same page as her when it comes to their “jobs” at this point period. It’s more than the stress of just the kids.

    I didn’t fall asleep until at least 1 am after watching either.

  6. My husband’s friend (who lives far away and that we don’t really see) had twins the year before we did. When my husband called to tell him our good news, his friend’s wife answered the phone. Her immediate response: “That’s too bad. Rates of divorce and child abuse are much higher in families with multiples.” Unfortunately, they didn’t have a good marriage to begin with, and it remains in that state.

    While we were certain that we could handle anything, even twins, the challenges have been much harder than either of us anticipated. They have reared up and then receded, depending on our girls’ age, but they are always there. I too have found that I need to be more appreciative, to remember the small things and moments that bring so much happiness, to pay attention to my husband, to do things for myself, and to try to find joy in the chaos. Luckily, I can say that we have just weathered a major storm and have come out of it still very much in love. I hope and pray that we can continue to do it. It’s not easy, but it’s worth everything to me.

    I don’t really watch Jon and Kate because I didn’t like to watch how mean she could be to him. But I do feel very sorry for both of them, and of course for their children. I cannot even begin to imagine the stresses and strains of their daily life.

  7. With 5 month old twins, we are right in the middle of the 1st year marriage issues! It has been hard especially after a long and rough pregnancy. We have had to go back to the drawing board in hundreds of ways to re-define our marriage and to decide how we will relate and survive amidst the present chaos. It can be a blessing as much as a curse to have to step back and “start over” in a lot of ways.

    One thing that that I have seen truly making a difference is to attack the issues as a team. We isolate each other when we function independently because Laura you are right there is just too much to do and not enough of any resource to accomplish it all. When we view the babies, life even our marriage as a united team we are able to have more victories along the way. When we do fail it is a joint failure so even that can strengthen our bond because we are experiencing it together…. as one…

    In watching Jon & Kate throughout the last year I have noticed that they didn’t seem to really be a united team through a lot of the issues they came across. I can imagine how even on “a mostly scripted show” this could really break down the bonds that held their marriage together.

  8. It’s hard. There is no doubt. But I feel like there should be someone to point out the flip side of parenting multiples and that is the old “what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger”.

    My husband and I were perhaps not in the best place before having twins. Then, the first few months were a blur of physical exhaustion and some terrible financial times. We came out the other side closer, better, stronger. I credit the birth of our boys with forcing us to grow up, snap out of our very selfish mindsets and realize, hey, I love you and we are going to make this work, dammit. I realize this is not the story for everyone, but I think having gone through the bedrest, the infancy, the first year of sickness all. the. time. and the subsequent surprise pregnancy of a singleton after twins I can say I am more in love with him now than I was pre-kids.

  9. My twins are almost one and I do think this has been a hard year on our marriage. The NICU, medical bills, sleepless nights, caring for two babies, etc. all take a toll. Plus, while our girls are the best thing that have ever happened to us, it’s probably the hardest thing that we’ve ever done.

    It’s hard to make time for each other to still be a “couple” and enjoy the things that you used to do. We have finally started having a few date nights and are trying to make them a part of our schedule. I am lucky that my husband is a huge help and support to me. I see friends that don’t have it so good.

    I watched Jon & Kate Plus 8 last night and it was very sad and hard to watch them. It also made me realize that we need to pay attention to our marriage too and not just the kids. While that is a hard thing to do, I think it’s going to be vital for a happy and healthy relationship.

  10. I didn’t watch Jon and Kate because I just couldn’t take the hype any more. I think it has to be hard to put yourself in a position to help your family (ie make money from the show) and then have all your decisions picked apart in public. Don’t get me wrong, they agreed to do the show, but I wonder if they knew just how popular the show and their family would become. I’m one of those people who think multiples cemented my relationship with my husband. If we could get through me on bed rest for 23 weeks, the financial toll said bed rest took and the physical and emotional toll the first year of multiples took on us, well, I would hope we could now conquer anything that comes our way.

  11. I confess, I watched the second half. Then set the DVR to record the first half (since they air it 17 times a day).

    The divorce rate question — I didn’t have good luck finding much. I found the same Danish study referenced above (but can’t find a way to read even an abstract). I found a lot of sites claiming double/triple divorce rates that couldn’t demonstrate them. And I found a Swedish study:

    http://www.demogr.mpg.de/Papers/Working/wp-2001-029.pdf

    In brief, they argue that the divorce rate for mothers of twins is between that of mothers of one singleton and mothers of two singletons.

    And, also keep in mind that some risk factors for multiple pregnancy — young maternal age, and fertility treatment. I believe all of these are linked to higher divorce rates, so it makes sense that rates will be higher for parents of multiples even without the multiples part. Oh, and parenthood is a factor too — not sure if there are controlled studies that keep # of kids constant (e.g., 2 singletons vs. twins).

  12. I watched also and even wrangled Jared into watching. He was the first to admit that it was SO depressing. We were both a little surprised at the statistic that she stated and he wondered if twins count! I assured him that twins are multiples so that I assume so.

    I think challenges either strengthen your marriage or tear it apart and I think you have to DETERMINE that you will allow it to strengthen it. I don’t think it comes naturally and it take a lot of work, honesty about where you are at and also honesty about what you need. I remember yelling to Jared, on a regular basis, in those beginning months “I need you!!!”. This was his cue to get crackin’ and get in there. I am also honest about when I need to get out of the house and so is he.

    I agree Laura that there is always a bit of room for improvement and I like reminders from time to time. When I get, hmmm what word can I use?, “witchy” Jared is quick to tease me and call me “Kate” or say “ok Kate”. It is kind of our funny way to say you are crossing a line and talking to me like I am a 2 year old.

    Interesting topic and I am enjoying reading all the comments.

  13. I’ve read a few writeups and a bunch of tweets about the show, and I’m glad I didn’t watch it. I think it would have sent me to a bad place.

    Kids are hard on a marriage. Multiples even more so. Yes, a lot of people end up bonding together stronger than before. But it’s freaking hard. If you have any kind of communication issues or feelings of resentment about this or that thing, they will come through when you’re exhausted and stressed and have way too much to do and have waved goodbye to your earlier freedoms.

    I couldn’t be more thrilled that we’re getting away for some child-free time this weekend. While I don’t think our marriage is in any way endangered, I do think it’s been a rough two years and we could really use the reconnecting.

  14. Great post! I have never watched the show before but did last night. And it was a downer. And it made me sad for the kids.

    I think this is a good reminder, that despite being crazy with all the things kids (multiples) bring, we still have to work on our marriages and not take them for granted. They seemed to not even have any affection or love for each other.

  15. I was going to post something last night, Laura, but Jay’s computer crashed. I am so glad you did!

    I felt heartsick watching the show. There was such raw emotion, such sickening pain… my parent’s are divorced (my dad cheated on my mom and I have a bunch of half sibblings all over PA) and for the last three years, my in-laws have been seperated and are getting divorced. To say I have gone through times where I really struggled with fear would be an understatement! If my Dad left us, and my husband’s dad left him (and his father before him), then what would keep Jay around if things got too tough?

    My hope lies in God, and I believe he is the cement that holds my marriage together, not Jay or I. But man, it is a daily struggle to not take each other for granted, or to look at each other as just co-parents to these crazy little toddlers, rather than the person I fell in love with and am committed to loving all the days of my life, kids or no kids.

    I think the hardest thing about mulitiples and marriage has been learning not to keep a score sheet. It can’t be about how many times X got up through the night, or how many diapers Y changed. Or who does or doesn’t get to sleep in, take out the trash, or any other duty/chore/burden.

    Jay and I are a lot more honest with each other and tend to say what we are feeling, but not in the moment. In the moment, my mouth can get away from me, and my small grievence can end up sounding like a big deal to my kind and sensitive husband. Just this weekend, as we were heading home from a picnic, I told him, “I was kinda frustrated that I didn’t get to really eat or talk to people because I was trying to keep F and J safe and happy, and I felt like you got to do both.” In this way, I am not attacking him, and one of the things that Jay always askes me to do is to remember that he has my best interest in mind, even if he can’t think about 50 things simultaneously like I can.

    My husband is by far my very best friend, but I need to tell him that more often. And I need to protect his need for alone time, down time and stress reduction above the (constant) needs of my children. We women, we can “give” until we are bleeding, and we get angry at men for not sacrificing 100% all the time, for not being like us. But my husband is wise, and often sees in me when I need a break before I will admit I do. I hate to be “weak.”

    I am honestly praying for a reconciliation between Jon and Kate…having been left by my dad, I know the impact that can have on children, and they have 8 of them. In the meantime, I will hug my husband tighter, and concentrate on my own marriage with as much passion as I do parenting, because the fact is, my kids will only be in this house for about 16 more years. Lord willing, my husband and I will grow to be old and wrinkly together, and hopefully we will have nurtured our relationship, tending to it as one does a garden, over the years. When the time comes to “launch” Faith and Jonathan out into the world, I want to be coming home to my best friend and lover, not a stranger.

  16. I think my twins (at age 4.5) might be older than many of yours, so I do want to toss out a few words of encouragement: It gets better! It does. The early months and years are SOOOO physically demanding and emotionally exhausting. Dealing with preschoolers can wear you down mentally, but it’s nothing like the early months of baby care and chasing around toddlers. Nothing at all. If your marriage can make it through the toddler years, things will ease up.

    In our situation, I do think having twins helped our marriage in a way. Our oldest was a very demanding baby, and my husband couldn’t do much because she only wanted me. I resented him for having a life where he got to relax and do fun things sometimes, when I didn’t have that at all. But once our twins came along, things were suddenly more balanced. If I had both babies, he had our 2-year-old. If two babies were crying, he could hold one. Because of the cost of childcare for three under three, he worked nights and I worked days, so we both had a lot of time alone with the kids to work out our own way of doing things.

    My heart aches for those of you saying you’re in a rough patch in your marriage. We have been there and it is such an awful feeling. Please take heart — it really does get much easier as they get just a little bit older.

  17. i did not watch the premiere so i am not sure of the circumstances. i stopped watching that show when they started product placement and they kept shoving cameras in front of the kids. and when that maddie one went total brat. and i do not mean to be a total snipe, but might some of it not been the marriage and possibly be the media attention and constant presence of cameras in their life. not sure there can be a huge quality of life in that situation.

  18. Great post, and great comments. As always, it’s great to come to a place where one feels understood, listened to and supported (even if it’s a virtual reality!). Thanks for the words of encouragement Jen. I always love to hear/see some hopeful glimpses into the not too far future.

  19. I love the watch J&K. I love the twins and sextuplets and think the children are sweet. It is so sad to see what appear like two loving parents drift away from each other. I have been in that situation though and sometimes a couple has to decide to get past all the hurt and stay together or know enough to let each other go. I hope the Gosselin’s will choose to work out their problems.

  20. Maybe I’m a crazy-assed optimist (all three kiddos DID sleep through the night last night, so my rose-colored glasses are growing), but isn’t it possible, just a little bit, that the “Jon and Kate thing” can be fixed? I found myself, after the show, hoping that somebody, anybody, would send the two of them scurrying to counseling, or to some sort of professional help.

    I think the trials and tribulations of marriage, combined with the stress of multiples will put a tremendous strain on any relationship….but if one seeks the tools to get through the rough bits, and really works hard at it, sometimes it CAN get better…at least, that’s my story so far!
    Counseling, parenting classes, accepting help from others and a wee bit of faith have got us this far – I have to hope that it could work for them, too….

  21. Nicely said Ree. I also found myself thinking that theirs are problems that other people have struggled with (not with the whole world watching of course!) and have come out united on the other side. Sadly it does seem that being under the microscope minimizes the chances of that happening but with it being unlikely that the show can continue much longer, hopefully they will have the chance to work through things in private.

  22. According to MSNBC.com, it was either Kate’s or Jon’s sister that urged viewers not to watch the season premeire because the show was fixed. Interesting things don’t happen every week, so they needed to create something, you know? I don’t know if it’s ALL faked, because honestly, if a birthday party is so important, why would they ruin it with those sorts of memories? But there’s my two cents.

  23. TLC should take some responsibility and send Jon and Kate to (or provide) marital counselling. Even if they were to film it at least they would be communicating with each other and getting some help. Right now it seems they only speak to each other through the media.

    I want to like Kate because none of us has 8 kids so we have no idea what it is like to parent that many children. Maybe you have to be a little militant to get things done and keep things organized and on schedule, but then again, maybe not, the point is that none of us knows. And I think the kids speak volumes about their parenting thus far. They seem like happy, well-adjusted, well-behaved children. So far.

    I am hugely disappointed in Jon. BUT, and someone pointed this out already, at the end of season 4 you could see that Jon was done with the show, and Kate should have listened to that. She didn’t seem to want to hear it. She kept trying to appease the viewers (it seemed) and assure them there would be another season of the show.

    I have 16 month old twin boys and we are thinking about adding another one to the mix. On occasion I catch myself becoming a little “kate-like” and it is those times that I catch myself and take a step back but it is also at those times that I can understand a lot of where she is coming from. I have 2, she has 8.

    I feel for those kids and I wish Jon and Kate the best.

    Carrie

  24. I’m sorry, as much as I enjoy watching their show, I can’t help but blame them for their own train-wreck of a marriage! I’m sure they had the best of intentions when they began, but it is time for them to stop! It’s sad that we can watch a real-life family dissolve on TV, all in the name of ratings….

    I have actually stopped blogging about my life with twins because I just felt like my life was too exposed…and I was just blogging for family and friends! So you can imagine the outrage I feel over the exposure of the Gosselin children on cable TV! One can only guess at what long-term effects it may have on them. I’m beginning to sympathize overwhelmingly with “Aunt Jodi”!!

  25. Thank you for doing a post on this. This is so needed. We never want to tell the family who is expecting twins how hard it will be. But don’t you think someone should prepare us/them? Yeah there are good and even great days. But some days are complete hell. Especially for SAHMs. We too have been through hard times. Thank God we have a foundation for our marriage. There’s been times I wanted to go to Bora Bora and change my name.

    But it’s the breaks we need. You have to have a support system in place. Family MUST help out.

    I think a schedule works best. ie: every thursday is grocery shopping.

    Not having to ask gparents to babysit…..just them volunteering. And not every month or so. How about every week or 2.

    My twins are 3. I wonder where family is sometimes. We are over here. Just living life. It’s gonna pass you by and your grandkids will be grown up.

    Ok , vent over. But in all seriousness, this was a very much needed post for all the mommas out there.

    Thanks!

  26. I watched the show once when it first came out. I couldn’t watch it anymore. Why would I want to spend my downtime watching someone else’s life that was more stressful than mine? I’m all about escaping reality when it comes to adult TV time….and their reality has always been TOO REAL for me. The screaming kids. The bickering. I haven’t even seen the real stats on divorce rates with parents of multiples but it HAS to be true that the rates are higher. DH and I always had a flawless relationship prior to the nuggets being born. And I have to say that the first year was the MOST DIFFICULT year we have ever spent together as a couple. My horrid PPD didn’t help, I’m sure. We went to lots of therapy sessions that year and really WORKED at it. The one thing I came out of therapy with that makes TOTAL sense – although is not true for all parents of twins is this: We spent THREE long and grueling years with our eyes on the “prize” (i.e. getting pregnant). Even during pregnancy – the bed rest, all the doctors visits….it was all about sustaining the pregnancy. We never really talked about or even thought about how our lives would change after the babies we wanted so badly arrived. We had these “hallmark” visions of parenthood in our heads and those just don’t exists for parents of multiples. Out of necessity you spend more time apart as a couple the first year with multiples then together. It was always me with Maddie and Jeffrey with Chloe – or vise versa. Never the two of us laying in bed with a cooing newborn between us – bonding as a family.

    jon and kate have issues that are to be expected of any family with that many children. I don’t pitty them any more than any other family going to the same thing. In fact, I pitty them less. They CHOSE to make their lives public – which isn’t helping them at all. Jeffrey and I didn’t share our troubles with anyone – except a therapist. Frankly – it’s no one’s business what goes on between a husband and wife on that personal of a level.

    Obviously – I have lots to say about this. Maybe I should do a post on my own blog instead of babbling on and on here *smile*. Regardless…. great post as usual Laura! Really thought provoking!

  27. Sorry – I wanted to add one more thing. I TOTALLY agree with Krissy!!!!

    The most difficult thing to learn NOT to do was keep a score sheet. Jeffrey and I always had one in our heads. I got up three times last night and he only got up once. I have an all day meeting tomorrow and she has off from work so why did I get up more than she did? I emptied the dishwasher last…it’s her turn.

    It took ALOT of talking and conscious effort on BOTH our parts to stop that habit. We are VERY conscious now of thanking the other for their help – regardless if we thought they “owed” it to us or not. Again -this multiple parenting thing is HARD. I wish there was a way to get the word out to more expectant Moms and Dads….maybe this site is the best venue! Or maybe one of our talented multiple Moms should write a book. I think the word needs to get out there to prepare yourselves as a couple just as much as you try to prepare for the babies!!!!

  28. it’s funny – I watched the “encore” of the show, and was pretty amazed by the level of which Kate seems to have bought the celebrity thing. I thought I was watching veronica beckham for a moment (the wardrobe, the glasses, the dryly pointing out of the photographers during the birthday party). I don’t think having multiples did this couple in, I think television did. He seems emasculated and very, very angry. She looks like she’s loving every minute of her newfound celebrity. I know that raising multiples is hard (my girlfriend and I bicker a lot – we never used to before the twins), but I think putting your life on display is probably more detrimental to a relationship than an expanded family.

  29. Thanks Laura for a really great post. I’ve been reading all the responses for days and finally had to comment. My circumstances are a little different then most everyone on this site because I’m a much older first-time parent.

    My husband and I were married for just over 10 years when our first child was born, then 6 months later we were pregnant with our twins. While this was indeed a miracle for us, we had no idea what we were in store for…

    Marriage is hard at the best of times…we both think that anyone who claims otherwise is just fooling themselves….it takes attention and above all committment to stand by the other person especially when things seem to be falling apart…add in financial concerns and OMG TWINS and PPD and no sleep and OMG TWINS … and you get my point.

    I just want to say to everyone who is struggling right now…please hang in there…it DOES get easier (my kids are now 3-1/2 almost 4 and twins 2-1/2). Try not to be too hard on each other.

    Like a previous post…the Jon and Kate premiere made me want to hug my husband and tell him how much I love and appreciate him…

  30. It truly does require that Mom and Dad unite as a team in order to successfully raise twin toddlers. If one person is doing it all, the resentment builds to dangerous levels. I learned that my husband would do anything to help as long as I asked him to. Initially, though, I hated that I had to ask, assuming that he should just volunteer. Once I decided to let go of that resentment and just asked for help when I needed it, I felt like I had a true partner. Now I’m thankful that he lets me take the lead, because I like to be in control…which is probably why he would wait for his assignments in the first place. ;) Anyway, we have a system in place that works for us now. Our identical twins are 8 and our marriage is strong. We are blessed.

  31. I wonder about this all time- I hear that divorce rates are higher with families of multiples, but have never seen a real source. I can see why it is higher.. having multiples is difficult, as we all know.. My husband and I haven’t gone out together alone since November, and it’s not a good thing for a marriage.

  32. “I think the hardest thing about mulitiples and marriage has been learning not to keep a score sheet. It can’t be about how many times X got up through the night, or how many diapers Y changed. Or who does or doesn’t get to sleep in, take out the trash, or any other duty/chore/burden.”

    Well said, Krissy.

  33. The divorce it is a big scare here, but in my mind the greatest danger as my wife and I face the birth of our twins in about 6 months is that we lose each other.

    The thing i keyed on in the season premiere this week was that Jon and Kate had defined their lives by their kids, and forgot the best thing parents can do for their children is to make sure the relationship with mom and dad is solid. That means there are times when you say no to children to say “yes” to your spouse.

    Kate said, “I wake up for my kids. I breathe for my kids.” I wonder if at any time she would have said that for Jon… I am a follower of Jesus Christ, and I believe that my relationship with Him comes first. My WIFE second, and my kids third. If you elevate your kids above your spouse, you are doing your children a disservice. This is hard enough with 1 child, let alone the multiplied effect of multiples…

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