A marriage under stress can either be strengthened or weakened by the challenges that present themselves. Having twins or multiples is a time of high stress in a married couple’s life. Caring for several infants at once can leave parents exhausted, frustrated, discouraged and both emotionally and physically drained. There is little time or energy left at the end of the day for parents to spend on their own relationship. Ironically, this is a time when a married couple needs each other more than ever. The emotional and physical support from one another is essential to get through this very difficult period in your lives.
In addition to the drain on time and energy, multiple babies can add a financial strain to a family. Daycare costs or other factors may require one parent to stay home and take care of the children. A family used to living on two incomes now has to manage on half of their previous budget, with twice the number of children. This puts pressure on the partner who is the breadwinner to spend more time at work to make up the difference, leaving the other spouse with additional child care responsibilities. All of these pressures can take a toll on a marriage. However, try to remember that this will not last forever. The challenges you face as a couple can strengthen your relationship if you work together. The following tips will help you to avoid making this difficult situation worse than it has to be.
1. Don't assume that your relationship will always be this way
This is a time of extremely high stress but it is temporary. As your children get older the demands upon you will lessen as they learn to do things for themselves. Try to be patient with your spouse as you both navigate this new terrain. Be understanding of each other’s limits. Don’t get angry if he or she doesn’t always handle things the way that you would like. Even though it may seem like this difficult period will never end, it will be over quicker than you can imagine. Expect a certain amount of neglect for the time being when it comes to your marriage relationship, but be prepared to put more time and energy into it when things ease up a bit.
2. Don't forget that you are a team
Rather than take out your stress and frustration on each other, rely on one another for comfort and support. Share the household responsibilities and work together. Not only will this relieve some of the pressure, but it will bring you together. Recognize that your marriage relationship is one of the most important factors in the emotional well-being of your children.
While it might be difficult to find the time to eat right and exercise when you have several babies to keep up with, make an effort to do as much as you can. Even a short walk every day while pushing the babies in a stroller is better than nothing. Eat quick, nutritious meals throughout the day to keep up your energy and stamina. Try to carve out some time to participate in relaxing activities such as a warm bath, meditation or yoga. Let your chores go and get a quick nap in while the babies are sleeping. Keeping yourself healthy will allow you to get more things done and feel better about yourself, which will translate into a better relationship with your spouse.
A. Lynn Scoresby, founder and president of My Family Track , First Answers , and Achievement Synchrony , and has been a marriage and family psychologist for more than 35 years. He has published more than 20 books and training programs.