Schwarzenegger, The Good Wife, and Other Stories of Betrayal

6 years ago

News of former California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's split with Maria Shriver after 25 years of marriage shocked us last week. 

Now the other shoe drops, Schwarzenegger admits he fathered a child with a longtime member of household staff over ten years ago.

Schwarzenegger's public admission of betrayal only came yesterday, but he revealed the infidelity to Maria after he left office in January. The news of his admission first appeared in which included this excerpt of his apology: 

"After leaving the governor's office I told my wife about this event, which occurred over a decade ago," Schwarzenegger said Monday night in a statement issued to The Times in response to questions. "I understand and deserve the feelings of anger and disappointment among my friends and family. There are no excuses and I take full responsibility for the hurt I have caused. I have apologized to Maria, my children and my family. I am truly sorry."

Sadly public apologies about infidelity from other celebrities begin to all sound the same because they are so familiar in the news. In the Speakeasy blog on WSJ, Susan Toepfer writes:

In Schwarzenegger’s public admission of sexual misconduct, one sentence stands out: “While I deserve your attention and criticism, my family does not.”

While many of us had speculated why the famous couple suddenly split last week after all those years, the real story behind the break-up is beginning to sound like a television drama script as reported by Toepfer:

The repercussions of that harrowing spotlight are at the core of the CBS drama, “The Good Wife,” which for two years has focused on a fictional family still reeling from the exposure of a pol’s tawdry affair.  Inspired by Silda Spitzer, Hillary Clinton, Elizabeth Edwards, Jenny Sanford and countless other blindsided spouses, the series begins where the news conference stops.

The housekeeper kept it a secret that she had a ten-year-old child with Schwarzenegger and recently she voluntarily left her position after two decades. According to the article in the, the staffer left on good terms:

"I wanted to achieve my 20 years, then I asked to retire," she [the staffer] said, adding she received a severance payment and "left on good terms with them."

Maria Shriver has had a tough year even without the news of her husband's infidelity. Her mother, Eunice Kennedy Shriver, died last year and her father, Sargent Shriver, died this past January.

Shriver appears to be the stronger partner in this very public relationship. Their marriage was rocked by scandal back in 2003 when her husband was running for governor and allegations were made that he had groped women on his movie sets. Shriver stood by her man and publicly defended him during the campaign even though many of us had the feeling there probably was more to the story. According toNPR

Back then Schwarzenegger, while saying that not all the allegations were true, apologized to anyone he offended and admitted that he had sometimes "behaved badly." Shriver stood by her husband. He was elected governor.

Celebrity break ups are both heart-wrenching stories and popular stories in the news. So it didn't surprise me when the announcement was made yesterday of a new television series all about betrayal. The series Unfaithful: Stories of Betrayal debuts in June on the Oprah Winfrey Network and features Dr. Laura Berman, Carson Kressley, unfaithful partners and visionaries. According to OWN TV:

Unfaithful: Stories of Betrayal features couples who have been forced to face the harsh deception of infidelity in their marriage. Through hard work and determination, they have reconciled. Each couple shares with us how infidelity impacts relationships with spouses, lovers, friends, and family. These are their stories of betrayal.

If your opinion about the state of marriage and relationships today is only determined by what you see in the media, movies, and television shows, then the news is very bad. However, if the scandals in the news cause you to step back and reflect on the good things in your own life and in the lives of those you care about, then perhaps you can share with your kids the stories about what actually makes a marriage survive and thrive. If this happens, then the good news about love just might triumph in the end.

Chris Olson
Writer and illustrator

Momathon Blog: the 24/7 mommy marathon–on two feet or four wheels

Photo Credit: © Patsy Lynch/AFLO/

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