Gwen Stefani and Gavin Rossdale split, writer Julie McCaffrey reveals the pressure a trio of children can put on a marriage.

The news that Gwen Stefani is calling time on her 13-year marriage to Gavin Rossdale caused widespread shock. But their split had a sad sense of inevitability for a large number of women. Those women in the know aren’t showbiz insiders, relationship experts or close confidantes.

They’re ordinary mums of three.

These mums understand that one child becomes the centre of a couple’s universe. Two children create a perfect balance. But three can topple that balance and tip even the strongest couples over the edge.

I am one of those mums. My triplet daughters have made me happier than I ever imagined possible, but their arrival also saddled me with extreme and permanent exhaustion that’s seen me doze off midway through a bikini wax.

Tiredness means I also have a tendency to be tetchy with my (poor and long-suffering) husband, who’s been on the receiving end of rants that are so explosive I make the Geordie Shore girls seem sweet-tempered.

Gwen Stefani has hinted at similar stresses as a mum of three. Her third son Apollo is only 18 months old and, unlike big brothers Kingston, nine, and six-year-old Zuma, he’ll barely remember living with his parents while they were married.

On Ellen DeGeneres‘s chat show last year, Gwen, 45, admitted she hadn’t planned to have three kids. She was honest about the strain of looking after three boys, saying: “It gets crazy. Everybody knows that 4-8pm is like chaos. It’s like the crazy time in our house. The other day we were driving home and I was thinking: ‘OK, Motel 6. If I can just find one and go there and disappear ­ – disappear from my life.”‘

Only a few miles from the Rossdales‘ LA home, tiny Reign Disick could also grow up without memories of his parents living together. He was just seven months old in July when his mum Kourtney Kardashian, 36, ended her nine-year relationship with Scott Disick, 32 ­ who’s also dad to Mason, five, and three-year-old Penelope.

They’d survived Scott‘s alcohol issues and living under the unbearable scrutiny of being a member of the world¹s most famous reality TV family.

But did the pressure of three young children prove too much?

Danielle Lloyd is another young mum who was left holding her third baby when her marriage to footballer Jamie O’Hara fell apart. In September 2014, eight days after their son George‘s first birthday, she announced she was filing for divorce.

Danielle, 31, told how looking after Archie, five, Harry, four, and baby George had left her ‘exhausted’ and suffering from ‘baby brain’, which saw her leave her mobile in the fridge. Shortly after George‘s birth, Danielle‘s joke that if she had another baby ‘Jamie and I would probably divorce’ hinted at the heavy toll three kids was having on their relationship.

Jennifer Garner and Ben Affleck’s 10-year marriage was considered one of the most solid in the showbiz world, but their break-up statement voiced their commitment to co-parenting their kids ­ Violet, nine, Samuel, three, and Seraphina, six.

Of course, it could be a coincidence that the latest celebrity couples to split all have a trio of children. Or could it be that the curse of having three kids makes relationships crumble?

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Julie McCaffery