Introducing twins to your family is no easy task. Some of us start our families with twins, some of us end our families with twins, and some of us have twins somewhere in the middle. Regardless of how or when you introduce your new babies to your family, your marriage will inevitably feel this change. When I first found out I was pregnant with twins, I wasn’t nervous about the “higher divorce rate amongst twin parents” that has been discussed in a variety of studies and articles. I am married to a wonderful man who has always supported me in my (sometimes crazy) endeavors. At one point, I have to admit that I did start to think about Jon and Kate Gosselin (please forgive me!) and how difficult their life must have been when adding 6 infants to a set of twins, but then I reminded myself our lives are WAY too boring to ever become public. My identical twin boys are now 13 months old, and as I look back on the past year, I have a few tips to help you maintain a happy marriage when welcoming/raising multiples.
Make time for yourselves as a couple
Sometimes in the thick of diapers, feedings, and lack of sleep, it is hard to remember why you married your partner. In the early days, there were moments when I couldn’t remember the last time I showered or if I had brushed my hair that morning. While the day-to-day can seem very redundant, it is so important to find time alone as a couple – both casual and intimate time! Sometimes this is as simple as sitting down together for a take-out dinner date and watching your favorite 30-minute sitcom after your twins are (finally) sleeping. This could also mean scheduling a babysitter once a month to actually venture out together. We actually received this ‘once a month babysitter’ as a holiday gift last year from the grandparents (best present ever!!) Once a month we now look forward to socializing and visiting new restaurants, which has been a hallmark of our relationship since the beginning. Finding time to travel together can also be a perfect ‘reset’ button to the normal routine. We went on one trip last year, getting away for a long weekend to relax and spend some time alone. We both agree that having the opportunity to occasionally miss our boys makes us much better parents.
Make time for yourselves as a family
In the early days after your twins arrive, it will feel very natural to spend lots of time together. But eventually the day-to-day routine from “before babies” sets back in, everyone goes back to work, and it becomes harder to find time dedicated to your family. Every Sunday, my husband and I have made it a priority to discuss what’s going on the upcoming week. As a work-from-home mom, this helps me organize everyone’s schedules with dinners, doctors’ appointments, activities, and downtime. We figure out what nights we will have time together as a family and what we have scheduled for the next weekend. Generally, we are able to use our weekends to run errands together and get things done around the house. We try to keep one day each weekend open (this doesn’t always happen) to do something fun with the boys and have a full day together as a family.
Spend time alone
This is MUCH easier said than done! I think it took me at least 3 months to realize that I hadn’t spent any time alone since my boys were born. While this is super common, it’s not always the healthiest for yourself or your relationship. Spending time alone gives you a little space to reboot and re-energize, two things that parents of twins are always so desperately seeking. I find that when I go too long without a little ‘me time,’ I begin to have feelings of resentment and frustration, which is NOT GOOD for a happy marriage! Generally, all I need is about 30-60 minutes of child-free time to get back in the right headspace. Usually, this is a trip to get my nails done, a quick workout, or even a solo trip to the grocery store. Sometimes running quick errands in and out without having to deal with car seats is a big win for a twin mom!
Openly communicate your needs and expectations
When we first brought our boys home, I realized very quickly that we hadn’t previously discussed the ins and outs of baby responsibilities. Frankly, I didn’t even know this was a conversation that needed to take place. Unfortunately, we let frustration set in before we realized the solution was to talk to one another. I was upset that he napped throughout the day when there was “so much to be done!” Why does open communication seem so easy in theory, but is actually so difficult in practice?
About two weeks after the boys came home my husband went back to work. This is when the conversation finally took place. I discussed the items I had to get done each day and he came up with ways he could help in the morning before he left or once he got home for the evening. As the boys have gotten older their needs have changed and our expectations of parental roles have evolved. Communicating our needs and expectations to one another (even if they don’t always come true) has helped to curb disappointment. And some days spending time with our growing boys often trumps laundry or dishes.
You are a team
This should go without saying, but every so often a reminder is important. You are not on opposite sides of the same field. You both want your kids to grow up to be healthy, successful, and happy in whatever they do. You both want what’s best for your children from day one, even if those opinions may differ. As a parent, you become an expert at putting others’ needs in front of yours. Having a teammate to help you navigate this tricky path of parenting multiples gives you someone who understands what you are going through. Of course, all relationships have their ups and downs and no partnership is perfect. There will be occasional disagreements and arguments, but always going back to the “whys” — why did we get married, why did we have kids — will help you reconnect better as a team.
Abby Ludwig is a mom to twin boys and lives in the Chicagoland area with her husband. She has quickly mastered running every appliance in the house to try and make sure everyone is fed, clothed, and clean. As a former Kindergarten teacher, she loves to keep things organized and has recently found how cathartic it can be to fold teeny tiny laundry into nice neat piles. While everything may look nice on the outside, Abby promises she’s really a ‘fake it til you make it’ kind of mom who loves her little men something fierce!