Married with Multiples

Maintaining Your Marriage After Having Twins or Multiples

Today I am giving you permission to stop searching the Internet for articles about how to keep your toddler twins from biting one another, or how to successfully potty train triplets. Today I want you to think about your spouse.

Oh, you remember that person. He’s the one you crash into in the hallway as you change the babies’ diapers in the night. She’s that mad woman who is trying to take your oldest child to soccer, feed the twins and somehow do laundry all at once. When is the last time you were able to focus on just you and your partner without any extras tagging along? It may have been weeks or months since you even thought about doing so. Today I want to encourage you to take a breath and remember how it used to feel to hold your husband’s hand or to leisurely kiss your wife. Ahhh, it was nice, wasn’t it?

When you brought your sweet little bundles of joy home, you prepared your home. You bought a baby monitor, two cribs, and diapers (lots and lots of diapers!) No doubt you studied books on how to care for infants and how to manage multiples. While you trained for what was sure to be one of the greatest races of your lives, nobody taught you to train for the inevitable strain all those little ones would put on your marriage. Over time, if you allow that strain to persist and grow, your marriage will suffer and may even be at risk.

I know you are "BUSY." “What do you expect?” you may demand. Demand that you make your marriage a priority.

Without your marriage being a number one priority, Mom will suffer. Dad will suffer; and as a result, the whole family will suffer.

Even though it is hard, it is worth it. Your family will be better for it and best of all you will enjoy doing it!

How do you start? Simple. First, let’s look at the needs of both mom and dad as a unit.

Need One: Moments Together (Alone)

Make a list of potential babysitters you can use, and compile their phone numbers or contact information. If you already have professional childcare arrangements, are there options for alternative hours in the evening or on weekends? Think about others who can help: your parents, friends, neighbors, teenagers (you may need a few of these at once), helpers from your church or daycare are all great people to put on this list. Determine whom you need to pay or whom you could trade favors with to get the precious babysitting hours needed. 

Schedule a babysitter at least twice a month. To do this you must plan ahead. Your wife will enjoy having a date to look forward to and an opportunity to enjoy your company without the children. Your husband will have the satisfaction of making his wife happy (do not underestimate this power!) On your dates, do the hobbies you enjoyed before you had multiples. Go to a movie, eat dinner out, or just have fun. Enjoy each other’s company with your spouse being the main attraction (in other words, not the kids).

Need Two: Treat Each Other With Kindness

We all know that kids can get on our nerves. Fussy infants and temperamental toddlers can make any grown up as grumpy. Sleepless nights, endless demands, and everyday stress make us all irritable at times. In spite of this, don’t allow your spouse to bear the brunt of your daily frustrations.

If you like the way Dad loaded up the stroller and took all the kids on a walk without being asked to, TELL HIM. If you like the way Mom painted pictures with the triplets, TELL HER.

Thank each other. Praise each other. Encourage one another; and compliment one another. Everybody loves to be praised.

We are quick to praise our kids, but slower to praise our spouse. Don’t be frugal with your appreciation. Use it often.

Need Three: Let the Little Things Pass

When you see those dirty diapers Dad left on the floor, resist the urge to flog him with your words. When Mom just didn’t have time to make the bed today, look the other way. Don’t criticize and don’t tear each other down. Save your words for times when they are really necessary, not for the little irritations in life.

Now, let’s take a look at some of those needs of the Dad and the needs of the Mom.

Let’s take a look at some of those needs of the Dad. Listen up ladies; we need to remember Dad’s needs too!

Need One: Sex

Yes, you knew it was coming. We women just can’t understand how a man still has a sex drive after you’ve been spit up on ten times a day. Ladies, understand this: a man needs sex just as a woman needs to feel affection without sex. It is an absolute need of your mate. Do not withhold yourself from him. I know you are tired; I know sometimes you just can’t even imagine having the energy to have sex. When you get into bed and you feel his arms wrapping around you -- and you know it’s not to “cuddle” -- just relax.

Enjoy the closeness and the intimacy sex will bring to your marriage. Do not let too much time pass without meeting this very important need.

Need Two: Feeling Needed

You may believe you are a new millennium mom. You can do it all – take those babies to the store, work, run errands, be a soccer mom. You probably could do it all, all alone if you had to, but you don’t. You have a helper and it is your husband. Let him know how much you need him. A man needs to feel important and needed. Tell him how much you need him and how much you appreciate him.

Need Three: A Wife Who is Interested in Him

The busy details of daily life leave little time at the end of the day to find out what is happening with your partner. What’s going on at the office, or with his tennis partner? How is he feeling? Don’t forget to ask. Call him during the day just to say hello, just to find out how his day is going. Don’t let another woman fill this need in his life. You need to be interested in him and who he is.

Okay, Husbands, it's your turn to take notes. Let’s look at the needs of your wife.

Need One: To Feel Loved and Appreciated

I don’t know a woman – especially a mother -- who doesn’t desire to feel appreciated. Usually, we are the first ones awake and the last ones in bed. Often, we sacrifice our lives and careers for our children and we want to feel like someone has noticed. Husbands, it is your job to notice! Tell your wife how much you appreciate what she does for the family. Tell your wife how much you love her and how lucky your kids are to have her for a mother. Don’t let your words be empty – show her how you feel with a card here and there or a special surprise when she has had a bad day. Your wife will love you for it.

Need Two: To be Touched (Without Sex).

Women love to cuddle. Women love to be held. Women love to hold hands. They want to sense your manly strength, feel your manly arms wrapped around them.

Cuddle in bed without expecting sex afterward. Or, give an awesome massage and then end it with a hug and an "I love you" and nothing more.

Loving physical contact is vital. Your wife will feel loved -- and you might even get lucky without expecting to!

Need Three: To be Talked with and Listened To

We women love to talk. You men want the bottom line. We want to ramble sometimes without any point at all. You men just want the point and the point alone. Indulge your wife in conversation. Don’t spend all your words at the office before you come home. Save some of your time to communicate with her. Send her a sweet message during the day. Or, pick up the phone and call her for no other reason but just to hear her voice and hear how her day is going.

In the middle of the daily grind, it is easy to think we will have time for each other – and our marriage – later. Later may never come if you don’t actively participate in growing your marriage relationship today. Decide today that your marriage is worth the effort and that you will make it a top priority in your life. You can’t take your marriage or your spouse for granted. Allow this very busy season of your life to draw you closer together and not further apart.

Allowing the constant demands of raising multiples to be a higher priority than your marriage will draw you apart over time and disconnect you from your spouse. Don't take the mindset that your partner is disposable; you cannot trade him or her in for a new one (no matter how much you might want to at times).

Remember the needs of your spouse and of your marriage. Not only will you enjoy meeting those needs, but years later your marriage, and your children, will continue to reap the rewards of your efforts.

By Pamela Prindle Fierro
 Pamela Prindle Fierro is the author of several parenting books and the mother of twin girls.