The Twin Bond
(Excerpted from Dancing Naked in Front of the Fridge: And Other Lessons from Twins by Nancy J. Sipes, Ph.D. and Janna S. Sipes, J.D.)
The twin bond. How do you describe with words that which is indescribable? Even if you are a twin, this bond is difficult to understand and even more troublesome to articulate. Defining the twin bond is a task of epic proportions. Asking twins themselves, both identical and fraternal, to put the magic of the bond into words, we were told such things as: “It is more special than a best friend;” “It’s like a soulmate, we are connected at the heart for life;” “There can be no one closer to me than my twin.”
Dancing Naked in Front of the Fridge
Growing up at the same time lends itself to a lifetime of sharing and companionship, forging a bond that is deep and self-sustaining. Interestingly, all the time twins spend together, coupled with literal simultaneous development, often results in the twin bond being even stronger than other sibling-to-sibling bonds. Just imagine learning to touch, laugh, crawl, walk, talk, potty train, tie your shoes, read, write, dance, survive puberty, discover the opposite sex and experience virtually all other growing pains and gains with someone exactly your age! Imagine your very own built-in best friend. Imagine never being alone.
That is what life is like for twins inside their twin bond. The bond is magical and mysterious. It is the cement that holds twins together, and ironically, can be a wedge that can come between them and other people. Being very intense and often uncontrollable, this bond can create misunderstandings by seeming to have a life all its own. It can leave the impression that twins don’t need anyone else but each other.
Identical twin Cindy spelled out just how the bond can produce tension in other relationships: “When I was married, my husband was very jealous of my twin. He once told me, ‘You would probably be more upset if your sister died than if I did.’ Unthinkingly, I responded, ‘Yes.’ This comment caused a huge argument that lasted for days.”
Nancy and Janna Sipes
Nancy (L) and Janna (R) Sipes
Cindy found it impossible to help her husband understand the closeness she shared with her twin sister. A struggle for priority in Cindy’s life was a draining force on the marriage. Eventually, that marriage ended. Cindy shook her head and surmised, “Spouses need to recognize the sacred territory of the twin relationship. To have a relationship with a twin, the nontwin needs to accept the twin bond — not be jealous of it. Life is so much easier when they work with the twin relationship, not against it.”
This larger-than-life bond can be frustrating to others because it is so meaningful for twins. We agree with Cindy’s advice to try recognition and acceptance of the twin bond. Also, remember that twins’ passion for their twinship is not intended to minimize anyone else’s importance in their lives. On the contrary, the twin bond intensifies the ability to give and receive love. Being a twin is a gift that, at its deeper levels, can only truly be shared with your twin. After that, for us as twins, the love we have for others in our lives is just as rich, only on a different playing field.
Learning how to express love, rely on each other, spend huge quantities of time together, and keep a secret are all part of the early lessons of twinship. We believe these are manifestations of the twin bond. These teachings transcend twinship, however, and provide a strong foundation for all other relationships. Twinship, in reality, is a dress rehearsal for life. And the twin bond helps to set the stage for a powerful performance.