Jon and Kate Gosselin's marriage troubles may be compounded by a lack of privacy and the struggle to balance their personal needs with those of their children, according to fellow sextuplet parents Chris and Diamond Harris.
The Birmingham, Ala., couple, who have appeared on reality shows like "Extreme Makeover: Home Edition," said they understand the plight of the popular stars of the hit cable show, "Jon and Kate Plus 8."
"I think the most stressful part of it is making sure they have what they need as well as making sure everybody else in the family has what they need," Chris Harris said.
Jon and Kate Plus Controversy
Ahead of their show's season premiere Monday, Jon and Kate Gosselin have experienced an increasing amount of media coverage and tabloid scrutiny about the state of their union.
Allegations of extramarital affairs have plagued both Jon and Kate, amid rumors that Kate Gosselin had her husband sign a contract saying he could date other women as long as he showed up for the show.
Additionally, Kate's brother and sister-in-law, Kevin and Jodi Kreider, told Radar Online that the Gosselin's marriage was effectively over.
"I think that any parent will tell you that if you don't make what I call deposits in our own emotional bank account, you have nothing to draw down on," said "Good Morning America" parenting contributor Anne Pleshette Murphy. "And they have nine people each drawing down on those reserves."
Jon and Kate: Raising Multiples in the Public Eye
It remains unclear how TLC, which airs "Jon and Kate Plus 8," will handle their marital woes on the show.
"We are in production for season five and moving forward as planned, while fully supporting the family and respecting their needs as they work through this challenging time," TLC said in a statement. "This show has always been about a real family dealing with real-life situations, and that will continue to be the case for the new season."
With all the interest in their 10-year marriage, it seems that Jon and Kate Gosselin have different takes on their fame.
"I think Kate has been clear; she likes giving speaking engagements and likes writing books and likes this experience of the show," Pleshette Murphy said. "[Jon] doesn't really, I think, have quite the same experience with this. I think that he doesn't feel that good about it and so, whatever he's doing to make himself feel better, I think is part of what's getting played out here."
Chris Harris said the daily effort of balancing their two sets of multiples, combined with the intense scrutiny that has come with the spotlight, may have altered the Gosselin's relationship.
"Being in the public eye brings another whole stress altogether, I think," he said. "I think being in the public eye you seem to want to make sure you don't do the wrong thing or say the wrong thing, and that probably brings about another contrast because it tends to make you not be who you really are."
For the Harrises, sustaining their marriage includes scheduling date nights and plans to do things like exercise together.
"It hasn't been easy. It's still not easy. We're still actually working on it. We would be lying if we didn't say we didn't have problems," said Diamond Harris, whose sextuplets turn 7 July 7. When you have multiples, "you're on TV a lot. Actually, you lose each other. Everything, the kids, the media, everything comes between you and you become strangers again. And we're still working on trying not to be strangers."
What Does Controversy Mean for Gosselin Kids?
It's a daily effort for the Harrises, who are parents to Kiera, Kaylynne, Kaleb, Kieran, Koby and Kyle, and also have an older son named Duane who turns 14 next week.
"We understand something that's monumental to us," Chris Harris said. "We have to make sure we put in time with each other so we don't lose who we are and, at one point, that was a hard thing for us. We did do that and then, you know, we have to understand we had to come back toward each other more so than gravitate toward the kids."
As Jon and Kate Gosselin try to determine what comes next for their family, many have expressed concern about how the headlines are affecting their young children.
"The 8-year-olds are old enough to know what's going on," Murphy said. "The 5-year-olds are going to pick up on the stress. I mean they're obviously distraught. You add the climate of unhappiness to this situation. I think it's really not a good setting for kids. I think the other things, of course, in the future, if the marriage devolves, they'll have a record of this and that's clearly not good for kids."