Studies Suggest Parents of Twins, Multiples at Risk for Divorce


  • The stress and financial costs of having twins or multiples puts marital strain on a relationship.
  • Studies suggest a risk for divorce for parents of twins and other sets of multiples.
  • Mental health risks also exist for parents of twins and other sets of multiples.

"Blaming children, regardless of how many and if they are born at the same time or not, for existing is never the answer, nor is placing blame on them for the ending of a marriage."

Having multiple children at the same time can pose a challenge to any parent. With the logistics of multiples including the increased spending and financial commitment to supporting the expanding family dynamic, that of which now includes multiple children, it can cause stress and strain on any committed relationship.

For the moms

In addition, many mothers find themselves experiencing postpartum depression after giving birth to multiples. According to a study in the Pediatrics journal that analyzed more than 8,000 mothers who participated in the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study-Birth Cohort, mothers of multiples had a 43 percent greater odd of having moderate or severe postpartum depressive symptoms nine months after the delivery, in comparison to mothers of single babies.

Some of the symptoms of the condition include loss of appetite, mood swings, withdrawal from family and friends, and insomnia.

For the dads

In addition, fathers and mothers of multiples experience heightened symptoms of depression, parenting stress, and anxiety during early parenthood, according to the Archives of Women’s Mental Health. The study also found that fathers of multiples conceived via In Vitro Fertilization are more depressed at 6 weeks postpartum than fathers of single babies conceived via IVF.

All of these mental health issues, resulting from having twins, or at the very least, multiples, can create tension within the relationship. Many couples look inward and blame one another for their current circumstances, as if these circumstances are considered bad.

Money problems

That tension can be a result of financial strain and baby maintenance, on top of maintaining work, sleep, and additional domestic chores. Some spouses find themselves at their breaking point, and divorce becomes more and more of a realistic situation. According to a study supported by the Twin and Multiple Births Association, 28 percent of parents of twins or triplets separated or divorced. The study continued to prove the financial reasoning behind marital stress by also stating how married couples with twins were more likely to be behind on bill payments. They also were more likely to have used up all of their savings on necessities, due to having multiples.

This study also found that the twins and triplets involved had experienced higher levels of material deprivation, due to the lack of funds. The parental inability to pay for items meant that these children missed out on owning a bicycle, having a birthday party, or buying a school uniform.

This is all primarily due to the fact that 62 percent of the families of multiples involved in the study said that they were financially worse off after their children were born. When their finances declined after having multiple children at the same time, their relationship faltered under the stress.

Being apart

Some obstetricians, including Dr. Charles Hux, who has delivered more than 500 sets of multiple births, have their own theories of why or when parents typically split up, after having multiples. He said, in his interview with the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette that they typically split when the children are in high school and the reasoning behind the split is that they do not spend enough time away from their children.

The parents are having to spend as much time as they do with the children, because until a certain age, the children are unable to do a lot of tasks for themselves. Through spending so much time doing stuff for the children, they can sometimes feel like they do not have the time or energy to enjoy the children. Lost in the translation of all of these sentiments is the marriage itself and how the married couple has less time to spend with one another, creating additional tension.

Sticky situation

Given that twins now make up between 3 and 4 percent of all births in the United States and the rise of fertility treatments are making multiples more prevalent, divorce rates among couples with multiples are expected to continuously rise.

Part of that rise relates to how parents treat having one child and then twins, as opposed to when their first birth is multiples. A study from Dr. Anupam Jena of Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston compared census data from a time when newer fertility treatments were not available, thus unable to affect divorce rates.

Out of the 800,000 families in the study, about 13 percent of mothers with a non-twin eldest child reported being divorced and not living with the child’s birth father, in comparison to about 14 percent of mothers who had twins in their first births. In addition, mothers who had twins as their first children also had an average of more children overall than mothers that did not have twins.

Avoid blame

The unhappiness of a marriage can cause the need for a divorce, no matter how many children you may have. In having twins, or any sets of multiples, parents are obligated to provide and support their children, whether the parents are together or not. Through making a functional custody agreement, co-parents of twins or multiples can offer them the best life possible without the tension being placed onto a pre-existing relationship.

In handling these situations through courts and mediators, co-parents can put the children first and avoid blaming them for any financial strain that their parents may have gone through. Blaming children, regardless of how many and if they are born at the same time or not, for existing is never the answer, nor is placing blame on them for the ending of a marriage.

The children were not the ones in the marriage. They were not the ones unhappy in the relationship that they were in. Their parents were, and that’s okay. In pursuing a better life for one’s self as an individual, they can be better equip to be the best parent that they can be for their children.

End of Content Icon

Leave a Reply