Guest Author - Julixa Newman
Studies show that having multiples can seriously affect a marriage/partnership. A relationship that starts with having no children that suddenly jumps to two can really experience stress and discord even more than parents who are already accustomed to being responsible for a child before multiples come along. No matter the additional children, twin parents usually report a higher rate of stress, arguing, and fatigue than singleton parents. Two of the biggest challenges that parents of twins will usually face are money problems and keeping each other happy and relaxed. I have compiled a list of tactics for facing these challenges, and hopefully you, as a reader, can actually find the time and sanity to learn from my experience, and use these ideas to strengthen your marriages so that no children have to bear the burden of their parents’ stress.
First, there is the cost of raising a child. It has been estimated as recently as 2012, that to raise a child to the age of 18, the total cost is rapidly approaching $300,000. Multiply that by two, and you have more money than many people earn in a lifetime. This can easily become overwhelming if you don’t have control. It is absolutely crucial that money problems are addressed as soon as they are evident so things do not spin out of control. Sometimes, one spouse avoids the issue out of pride, or some people just put these issues on the back burner because of the constant neediness of the babies, or just plain denial. In some situations, the cost of a financial counselor may be 100% justified if that expenditure will lead to a better lifestyle and fewer sleepless nights. The point is, set pride aside, set aside time, and deal with financial issues as soon as humanly possible. Everyone in the family will benefit from the reduction in stress that follows! As financial issues are the main obvious concern, the point is to handle the big problems now before they are compounded by the stress of raising multiple children at once. This goes for any major problem facing a marriage, whether it’s depression, an addiction, or any other hardship facing a family.
The next major goal is to refocus your commitment to your partner. I know many people reading this are thinking, “Oh please, how and when will I be up for that?!” I said it myself a hundred times (which is why I sit here and pass it onto you) and I cannot stress it enough. Maintain your relationship with your partner. Many spouses feel disconnected from each other from the intense attention multiples require. This can go on for years, since toddlers will develop different interests, and occupying two of them will require added attention and creativity, and time. Hopefully these next few paragraphs will give you some insight into what would make your spouse happier.
Talk about other things
I find it therapeutic to spend at least 30 minutes straight just talking to my husband about subjects other than the kids. He might read a popular news story I missed out on at home, or I may have seen a new recipe he might like to try. I even subscribed to a few magazines that he and I would enjoy reading, and spread them around the house to stimulate conversation. You might gain a new appreciation for each other by sharing intelligent conversation again!
The elusive “date night”
Date night can be as little as an inexpensive 2 hour movie, or as much as a nice dinner and a few drinks. While babysitting can get expensive, if you have family available you have the luxury of saving the money for your night out. If you don’t have anyone around that you trust, no big deal-get the kids to bed early (finally), hit a movie rental kiosk and put candles at the table for a quiet meal at home. Even pizza can be romantic with candles and the one you love.
Keep love alive all day
There are lots of ways to keep the flame alive throughout the day if you take the time to see past the stress of the daily workload. Little reminder notes of love in a briefcase, texts of “I love you” or whatever else makes your spouse melt are excellent reminders that they are not forgotten in this complicated euphoria that is raising twins.