“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud…” How many weddings have we been to where this particular scripture is read? Mine included! At the beginning of a marriage, this seems obvious, even easy a majority of the time! Don’t keep score, listen to your spouse, put their needs first, communication is key. When my husband and I married 11 years ago, we couldn’t wait to spend the rest of our lives together, have children, and watch them grow. When we had our first child 4 years into our marriage, she was colicky and difficult and we knew parenthood was more work than we ever envisioned. Our second baby was easier until he turned into a toddler. I chose to quit my job and stay home, and our life wasn’t perfect but we were on track with our 10-year plan and a happy family of four.
Fast forward 2 years later. My husband thought he was done having more children and I thought “maybe” one more. We found out we were pregnant soon after and 6 weeks later that it was twins. WOW, we thought. We knew what we were doing and suddenly our lives were turned upside down! A healthy, yet difficult, pregnancy and c-section at 38 weeks brought our beautiful boy/girl twins into the world. Four children in 4.5 years was NOT our plan, but we were proud and in love.
Enter parent exhaustion. My husband started taking overtime at work to provide for our large family. We thought I’d be back to teaching after a few years at home. With him working 6 days a week and me at home 24/7 with the children, we were exhausted. The ins and outs of parenting, especially twins, take a toll on ANY relationship, but especially a marriage. We said and did things in our ‘sleep deprived with newborn twins’ state that we never could have imagined during that first year of marriage. With twins, you don’t get a break! You don’t get to let Dad take the first shift of nighttime feedings; it’s all hands on deck! It took every bit of our attention to get the double breastfeeding pillow situated, fresh diapers x 2, reswaddle both babies, latch, relatch, relatch, burp, get situated again…then repeat 2-3 hours later. When do you have time to be a couple and communicate during that regiment?!
One positive aspect was that we knew, ‘this too shall pass’! Although we had zero twin parenting experience, we did know that, eventually, babies sleep through the night. Eventually, they don’t need their diapers changed at every feeding. Eventually, we will sleep longer than a 2-hour stretch. Eventually, they will go to bed at 7:30 pm and we can have somewhat of an evening routine again. Eventually…
And guess what? It did happen! Our 4 kids go to bed at 8 (-ish, we try…it takes forever) pm and here we are, 2+ years later, and as much in love as we were on day 1! We are far from perfect, we have our disagreements and differing views, but here are some tips that can help your marriage work after twins…
3 Things You Can Do Today to Help Your Marriage
1. Set aside time during your evenings for just each other.
Dates are great and important, but who says you have to get out of the house to spend time together? Every evening, except for the occasional situation, we set aside at least one hour of time together. We spend the first 30-45 minutes after the kids go to bed loading the dishwasher, putting away a few toys, switching out the laundry, etc. But instead of dividing and conquering, you load the dishwasher and I’ll go fold some laundry, we work TOGETHER. We can do it twice as fast and those little chores seem more manageable when we’re talking through our day. Then we can plop down on the couch together. Sometimes it’s watching a show, other times it’s enjoying a glass of wine and rubbing each other’s feet, sometimes we sit side by side and read, it varies. But what matters is we are together. This is our favorite time of the day, where we remember that we do still like and enjoy one another. I understand some spouses work night shifts or have work that they have to bring home to do in the evening. I know this is not a one size fits all solution. And even if you are both at home in the evening, it’s difficult staring at everything you could be doing with the kids asleep but trust me, you will feel refreshed and ready to face the next day if you unwind with your spouse. You know your relationship; figure out when you can be together and just enjoy each other’s company.
2. Talk with your partner about what they see as the day’s priorities.
I know this is directed mostly to stay-at-home moms, which I am, so I’m only writing from my perspective, but this was eye-opening for me as a wife. I read a book that recommended making a list for your spouse to order on what they see as important. I was shocked to find out that my husband was fine with eating leftovers or a turkey sandwich for dinner, but if I had a rough day it meant more to him that our bed was made and the dishes done than a kitchen full of dishes and a gourmet dinner. He is a wise man and NEVER says a word about the chaos of our house with 4 small children. HE GETS IT! But because of this conversation, I realized that if I took 10 minutes out of my day to make our bed and quickly load the dishwasher, he noticed! It was that small change that really helped me prioritize my day and show him that I value him still, even though the demands of the kids are unreal. He is my husband and I want him to know that I do care about him and think about him during our day. (Twiniversity Tip: Make sure your partner also knows what YOUR priorities are!)
3. Redecorate your bedroom!
When your babies are in their own room and you are done having children, spend a little time making a new and relaxing space in your bedroom. We didn’t intend on doing this, it kind of just happened. Our comforter was old and torn and our paint was looking shabby, but once we were done making a few changes in our bedroom, we loved it! We spent a few evenings on Pinterest looking for inspiration together and repainted, built some really fun nightstands that attached to the wall, and added a few new decorations and some new pillows. For a couple hundred dollars, we transformed our room into a relaxing space that was just for us. No toys, no pictures of the kids (that’s for every other room in the house!), and I try to make our bed and keep the room tidy. The rest of the house may be a mess, and our room used to be a catch-all, but that small change has made it a very restful place for us. I feel like I actually sleep better because it’s such a calm and nice space now!
I know these aren’t all the answers for everyone. My husband may work a lot, but when he’s home, he’s very present and helpful. But with these small changes we’ve made to our marriage after having twins, it’s opened up so many good (sometimes hard) conversations that have not only kept us married, but have made us actually happier and stronger than ever before! And we look forward to the next 50 years enjoying these children we’ve been blessed with.
Carly Cory is a happy wife and mommy to four sweeties–a 6 year old daughter, 4 year old son and 1.5 year old boy/girl twins. Before staying home with her children, she was a 3rd grade teacher. She’s now a professional diaper changer, snack distributor, nose wiper and plays some pretty serious twin toddler defense.