This change in the couple's relationship may be one of the most difficult adjustments for first-time parents. According to one mother of one-month-old twins, who was interviewed by Canadian researchers Beverly and Arnette Anderson, "My husband and I are looking at each other in a completely different light as we adjust to our new roles as parents. Now I see him as a father first, and my husband second, and I'm sure he's seeing me in much the same way."
When both parents are under the extreme stress of meeting the demands of two or more infants, even those who felt a very supportive relationship with their partner may begin to feel that support system breaking down from the wear and tear of caring for two babies. Peter, now the proud father of ten-year-old twins, says, "I can't believe we all made it. I thought my wife and I had a few problems before the babies, but when the twins hit, so did everything else. Suddenly we had no time for each other or anything but babies--and neither of us slept more than two hours a night. It was incredible."
The stress of having twins can exacerbate any difficulties that already exist between the parents. In addition, "Fatigue, and the imminent possibility of a baby or two crying, often leads to a reduction in sexual activity after twins. It took time, patience, communication, and a sense of humor to get most couples through this period" (Double Feature: 8:1).
In addition to pressures at home social pressures can contribute to fathers "twinshock." For one thing, extended families aren't around as they were forty years ago. Without grandparents, uncles and aunts on hand to help with childcare and household duties, it's up to the father alone to hold up half the sky at home. Sometimes the father is the only one available to help with the babies, and it's often his help that means the most to the babies' mother. Eight out of ten mothers of month-old twins interviewed in the Anderson study said that they appreciated their husbands' help with baby care more than any other help they received.