Marriage and Multiples

There has been a lot of talk in the media recently about how having multiples effects marriages.  There seems to be the idea that parents of multiples are more likely to divorce, though there aren’t any easy statistics specifically on this topic.  In response to this media coverage, parents of multiples are responding:

  • The website Mothers of Super Twins (MOST) is conducting research to a survey to better understand multiples and marriage. Please take a few minutes to participate in their survey.  I’ll post an update when the survey results are available.
  • Multiple Births Canada has released an information circular on the topic outlining studies on the topic.

I’m not planning to share the intimate details of my marriage with you, but here are few ways that having twins has impacted our relationship:

  • We’ve spent a lot of time talking about our values and priorities. Our decisions about spending money are more considered now that we are living on one income. We are now planning to sell our house and move to a larger house in another part of the city as we seek the right balance between work, family, money, school, childcare and community.
  • We have less time for ourselves and for us as a couple.  When our son was young we traded babysitting with other couples so we could have regular date nights.  Now that we have 3 children and many of our friends now have 2 children, the thought of caring for 5 children for an evening is overwhelming. As the girls get a little older and less reliant on breastfeeding, we might be able to arrange a night out more often.
  • We have to be more explicit about what we need (i.e. help with the children, time for a project, a few minutes by ourselves, etc), and we need to rely on each other more for support.
  • More of the physical space of our house and the space of our relationship are occupied by children. They demand our attention and our energy when we are with them and when we are away from them too.  We have to be more conscious about taking time away from being parents to being partners.
  • Parts of our lives are more structured as we make plans while considering our children’s schedules, the time and hassle associated with getting everyone ready, the stress versus enjoyment of the activity, and the other demands on our time (doing laundry every 2 days, preparing meals, keeping the house clean, etc).

Now many parents with more than one child, whether they are multiples or not, probably feel these pressures.  I think what makes these challenges unique to parents of multiples is that they are unexpected (going from 1 child to 3 children meant unanticipated changes for everyone) and they are more intense (having to feed, change and soothe 2 babies is the middle of the night is different than caring for one baby and one toddler).

Please take a minute to complete the MOST survey: Divorce and the Multiple Birth Family.  And, share your comments about how being a parent of multiples has impacted your marriage and your suggestions for parents of multiples.

6 thoughts on “Marriage and Multiples

  1. Great post, very thought provoking because I’ve never actually stopped to consider how many ways our marriage has been impacted. In the blur of the last 2 years since my twins birth, I would sum it up by saying our partnership is now (almost exclusively) about GETTING STUFF DONE. When one of us takes care of our 3 kids, the other one is getting stuff done, and vice versa. We both work but thankfully DH has a schedule permitting him to be home with the boys part of each week while I’m at the office. This is a lifesaver because we are truly both, equally hands-on parents. We don’t take enough time to appreciate each other because we have not made the time, we cannot find the time, and the time is spent on GETTING STUFF DONE. We have other problems too but that is the biggest one.

  2. In general I would that any stress in our marriage could be attributed to financial reasons. We went from two incomes to one and although I rarely regret my decision to stay home full time it means that we have to sacrifice certain things (like moving to just one car, not going out as much, not being able to put the kids in as many activities as I’d like etc.) Add the normal expenses of caring for three children and there are many months that we are stretched!

    As it relates to having twins I think we both would say that the first “intense” year of caring for newborns and a two year has made us stronger as a couple and better skilled at working as a team. Now that the twins are almost 18 months we have a little more breathing room and actually feel like we can sit back and enjoy life at a slower pace. There are still days when all three are sick, tired and screaming and DH and I both feel like running for the door but in general I don’t feel that having multiples has affected us much differently than having three kids spaced further apart.
    .-= Cristal´s last blog ..Steel Magnolias and The Fourth of July =-.

  3. This is a good topic, and as a former journalist, one of my pet peeves. No one ever actually cites the statistics they spout on divorce – this is true for all divorce rates, not just those of parents of multiples. I’m glad you linked to the survey, and I hope the results will show that it’s NOT true that parents of have a higher divorce rate. But whatever the results, we should insist that journalists actually cite their sources!

  4. What a great topic. My husband and I had a long conversation about this on our annual date two days ago.

    FYI, the survey link contains some extraneous text.

    I did take the survey, but the demographic questions were very poorly designed. I’m “from” two countries per passport, but live in a third. “Asian” wasn’t an ethnicity option. (Seriously, it’s a pretty big continent and not a very granular category.) I’m just venting; I’m so glad someone is gathering these statistics.
    .-= Sadia´s last blog ..Feels like home =-.

  5. I’ll be very interested to see what the survey has to say. I was kind of shocked when Kate quoted the “3x more likely” stat on the show because I always say that now that we have twins, there’s no way we’ll EVER get divorced. I don’t want to do this on my own!!!

    Thanks for posting on this!
    .-= Erin´s last blog ..What about ONE did I not understand? =-.

  6. very interesting,
    i can completely relate to the pp comments on life being a series of chores, getting stuff done is vital. dh and i had only been married for 2 months when we found we were pregnant and then to discover twins a couple of months after that!!!! as i already had a 4 yr old boy, we have never really known a child free existence. we are very good at making time for ourselves though. we have our evenings, and always make sure the room we are in is toy/ mess free (even if the rest of the house is a shambles!!!) we have a meal, chat (mainly about the boys!!!) and remember to say i love you. we are both amazingly proud of our achievements and on those days when im feeling like im folding washing all day, i know that he has been putting as much effort in in some other way. at the weekend we had our first 24 hour child free experience. wow!!! you do forget what it is like to be without. we went to a wedding, danced, laughed, and then had a lie in til 10am!!! the next morning. spectacular. we do both adore our children but i also remember my mum’s words, that we (my 5 sisters and i) were evidence of my parents love, they could pour love onto us, but when we grew and flew the nest, they would still have each other, so that was the most important relationship to keep strong.

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