Jon and Kate

I don't hate Kate Gosselin.

Please put down the rocks.

I've followed the Gosselins before Jon and Kate Plus Eight ever debuted on TLC. I watched their one-hour specials about life with twins and sextuplets. Like many, I marveled at their family, thinking more than once that I would take the nearest bridge if I had to raise eight children, and wondering how they managed to stay sane.

Jon and Kate's marriage reminded me a lot of my own. I know Kate is loathed by many out there, but I've always liked her. She and I are a lot alike. We both have twins. We're both Type As. We're both super-organized and detail-oriented. We both have strong personalities and clear ideas of how we want things done. We're both not always nice to our husbands.

Jon reminded me a lot of my own husband. His laidback personality seemed the perfect foil to Kate's high-strung one, as my husband's is to my own. They appeared to compliment eachother well. They seemed to work well as a team. At least from what was shown on tv, they seemed to love eachother, despite the complete and utter insanity, disagreements, and enormous responsibilities of their daily lives.

I watched the premiere of Season 5 Monday night. While the sextuplets' 5th birthday party was featured, most of the episode centered on Jon and Kate's crumbling marriage.

While watching, I was struck over and over by just how sad it all was.

The couple that once playfully poked eachother or bantered back and forth while sitting on the couch conducting their interviews were interviewed separately. In the scenes where both appeared, they ignored eachother. According to Kate, Jon "needed a break" and therefore played no part in planning or setting up for the sextuplets' 5th birthday party (he later rolled up by himself in a sports car). In one scene, one of the sextuplets told her dad, "I don't want you to leave anymore." While I'm sure the younger kids are in the dark about most of what's been all over the tabloids, it's clear they know something is up.

From watching the show, it's obvious that the drama and tension between Jon and Kate is real. This was not a publicity stunt used to drum up ratings. They sat together for one interview at the end of the show. They could not have sat farther apart if they tried.

At one point, a crying Kate said that parents of multiples have more than three times the divorce rate than do couples of singletons. This is a statistic I've heard before. It's also a statistic that makes complete sense to me. With three kids under the age of three, most of the time, I feel the hubs and I are running a daycare. We have never been shorter with eachother, or more exhausted, or more pressed for time than we've been since the twins were born. We are constantly meeting the needs of at least one child at all times. Time for ourselves, both as a couple and as individuals, is virtually non-existent. As a result, we snap at eachother. A lot. We resent any time the other person spends not helping out with the never-ending work of running our household. It is stressful, and all-consuming, and draining. And we only have three kids.

It makes sense that the marriages of those with multiples dissolve more frequently than those without. Even the best of marriages require work to keep them strong. But when you factor in a whole bunch of little beings who are constantly crawling up your legs 24/7, demanding that you meet their needs, throw in the every day stresses of jobs and bills and home repairs and dentist appointments and birthday parties, and suddenly, keeping the marriage alive ranks somewhere between "de-grub the lawn" and "schedule root canal" on the To Do list. It's hard. Trust me, I know.

So to watch Jon and Kate barely tolerate each other's existence Monday night was difficult for me. While we have 5 fewer kids than they do, a house that could probably fit into a bathroom in their new mansion, and a lifestyle that's very middle class, I saw the hubs and me in them. I always have, even before we had twins.

To see Kate's sadness and tears and Jon's defensiveness and detachment replace the happiness and laughter that used to exist on the show I never missed hit a little too close to home.

And it reminded me that while I may be knee-deep in diapers and pureed acorn squash and Dora books and backpacks every day, and while my nights are spent hunched over my laptop working so I can help pay our bills, my marriage is important. I don't want to wake up five years from now and not recognize the person sitting across from me at the breakfast table.

Finding the time to keep it that way is the challenge.

10 Responses to “Jon and Kate”

  1. # Anonymous Ness @ Drovers Run

    Even without multiples (although two of varying ages is still 'multiple' children - that there is what we call a semantic argument..ha ha) it's hard.

    Heck with ONE baby it's harder than with none. Sometimes I have to laugh at people with no kids who fight, because honestly, they have NO CLUE.

    I think I asked my husband at least three times, when my first child was 6 months and under...for a divorce, and I WAS SERIOUS.

    With our second we were better prepared for what we were facing, and made a pact that no matter how hard we sniped at one another (because oh yes, we knew their would be sniping) that we must try not to take it seriously.

    Things have certainly settled down again, now that we have SOME semblance of normality in our lives, and you are quite right in saying that you have to make your marriage a priority. We have to learn to be as quick to forgive, as we are to snap.

    Heh. Just earlier today, I had a miffy phone call with the husband (who decided to work later than planned - I mean HELLO it's bath time and dinner time here at home - so where the HELL does he think he is?), so I fired off a "F U very much" text message. Only to follow it immediately with an apologetic I love you message. I wasn't any less p*ssed, but I had experience enough to know that in the long run, I probably didn't mean it...  

  2. # Blogger Mom24

    It was horribly painful, wasn't it?

    I'm not sure I've ever acknowledged it out loud, but having J&J was very trying on our marriage. We had two children, we were lovey-dovey, our styles complemented each other, everything was hunky dorey, so let's throw birth control to the wind and see what happens. Well, Jacob happened, and everything was fine. But, when Julianna came along 27 months later, it really threw us for a loop. Suddenly, instead of the loving, tolerant father I had always seen, I was seeing a stressed out, short tempered dad that I clearly did not like and resented the change.

    In the last 6 years we've come a long, long way, and I finally feel like I can exhale and that we'll be fine, but I'm still a bit shell-shocked at how hard things were for quite a while there.

    I also don't think we'll every get back exactly who we were when our children were very widely spaced and everything was easy.

    I never understood the concept of working on a marriage, and I still really don't, but I will say we pay more attention now to getting time as a couple--date nights, etc. It used to be something we never did, never needed, but now we notice it makes a difference. I still don't know that our marriage needs 'work', but I have learned it needs attention.

    Great post. Whatever happened between Jon and Kate, I think it's extremely sad. I hope that maybe, somehow, they'll be able to work things out. I've always seen a lot of myself in Kate too. Maybe that's why I'm pulling for them so much.  

  3. # Blogger My Wombinations

    Great post. It is hard to work on the marriage even without multiples. I guess I am lucky in the sense that I am willing to tolerate a lot of chaos and messiness in the house:)

    To be honest, I have never watched Jon and Kate, partly because I don't have cable, but also because I really am not into the whole "I have 50 children look at me" thing. I think they are both kind of gross.

    But I agree with the rest of the post immensely.  

  4. # Blogger Tracey - Just Another Mommy Blog

    I think we are all just 1 misunderstanding away from divorce. Communication can be hard when feelings are hurt, but the feelings that will be hurt if we DON'T communicate are a thousand times greater.

    I watched it, too. Very sad... Holding out hope that they (and other families like theirs) can make it work.  

  5. # Blogger Momma K

    I like the way Mom24 puts it--a marriage needs attention. As much as we think grown-ups should be able to suck it up and deal, it makes a lot sense that one partner or the other would feel deprived if ALL the time and attention was focused solely on the children. The marital relationship should be the foundation of the family. If the husband-wife bond is not nurtured and held firm, it's only logical that life's stresses would tear it apart.

    Kris, I'm sorry that you and hubby are walking this rocky path, but I'm glad you're doing it together. I hope that you will be able to take some time soon to be alone together--time to just be Kristi and Rich rather than the parents of 3 under 3. I think the monthly "dates" that Ron and I try plan have really been essential to our sanity and happiness as a couple.  

  6. # Anonymous Lis Garrett

    I actually just got finished writing a blog post on the subject of how kids affect a person's happiness, as well as a marriage.

    I think Ian and I are unique in that we knew each other less than a year before we had Hannah. And then the other two followed suit relatively quickly after that. We didn't have time to get used to a marriage without children; we've always been parents together. Despite our petty arguments, we tend to get along well.

    However, I can certainly understand how the demands of children can negatively influence a marriage. Parenting is a tough gig, but even more so when you have multiple young children. I have a friend with 4-year-old twins and a 20-month-old. She and her husband are going through some tough times in their marriage, and I feel for them. But she knows that there IS a light at the end of the tunnel and they just have to make it there together. After all, kids don't stay little forever.

    You and Rich will make it through this time in your life, too. I have no doubt about that. :-)  

  7. # Blogger Damselfly

    I don't watch the show -- we don't have cable (Gasp!) -- but I agree that marriage often takes a back seat to parenting somehow. Times however many kids you have.  

  8. # Anonymous Anonymous

    Can I offer you another night off? A date with the Hubs? Maybe my partner and I can watch the threesome again for you???

    -Your biggest fan
    I am sure you know who this is, do i need to sign my name?  

  9. # Blogger Sugar and Ice

    It is hard making time for your marriage when you have children, and I suppose having twins (or more) does make it a little..sometimes a lot...harder. J and I try to go out on a date once a month, and it honestly does help. I can't say that divorce has ever really crossed my mind, and having the twins hasn't changed that, but I can say that if I'd been considering it beforehand, having twins probably wouldn't have helped.

    As far as Jon and Kate, they've both always gotten on my nerves just a smidge. The way she picks at him and belittles him bugs me...and the way he acts like a wet blanket and takes it also bugs me. However, I always felt like he probably knew what he was getting into when he married her, and it just seemed to work for them. I've seen them both change over the seasons, and I haven't liked where it was going for a while. The funny thing about them is that the easier the kids have gotten to care for, the worse Jon and Kate's relationship has seemed. They made it through having 8 babies...6 at the same time...they get them to school age...and NOW it's just too hard having multiples?? I don't think that having multiples has much to do with their relationship issues in this one particular case. They've gone WAY too far with this TV show. I think Kate has gotten kind of obsessed with the show, and Jon...well, I think he's going through an early mid-life crisis. When the show first started and the sextuplets were still old-ish babies...I thought Jon and Kate seemed to jive pretty well. Yes, they were tired and had no time to themselves, but you could see the love. I just don't see it anymore...that season premiere was brutal (poor Kate...as annoying as I've found her over the years, it was hard for me to hear her talk about their relationship like that...watching him show up in that sports car...watching her freezing at the birthday party and him not offer her his jacket...I'd like to knock him out, for real).  

  10. # Blogger Jesser

    The J&K+8 thing is ... sad. I feel like they made their own prison and are now living in it. I am not sure I love how they have handled everything, but I am also not sure I would have done things differently. They had all those kids ... a lot of people (probably, maybe especially the ones writing horrible things about them) would have taken a show that pays them $$ and free trips. And then once you're there and you have the fame how do you get out of it? Give up the huge house, etc. etc. ? Not an easy thing to do I am sure. But ultimately, I see the kids as the ones who will be suffering in this equation and I hope they can get it figured out for them.

    As for the rest ... kids (and I'm sure multiples even more so) make a marriage harder. All you said is true ... and I think what it takes is commitment from both sides to do their part with the work and stay together. It is not easy. We have had quite a few shouting matches and after Ben was born it seemed like all we did was fight those first few weeks. It is getting a bit better, I hope.  

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