Arnold and Maria: Does Their Split Really Concern You?

Thursday, May. 19th 2011 11:15 PM

Over the years I have witnessed and participated in the farce that says I should base my relationships on someone else’s. When I was a child, I watched the Cosby Show and wanted a family like the Huxtables’. And as a young man, I often wished for romantic partnerships like those I saw modeled by friends and family. Over the years, this has become less and less true about me. As a society, however, we regularly participate in this charade.

Since television couples aren’t real, and Hollywood has few lasting marriages to speak of, many of us look to politicians to demonstrate the values we want to see upheld in marriage. Despite the fact that numerous politicians are busted by the media for “indiscretions” each year, we expect them to be pillars of marital bliss, or at least marital longevity. The problem is that they are not pillars; they are people – imperfect, selfish and prone to change their minds, desires and beliefs over time. None of these are “bad” things; they just are.

I recently watched an episode of Nightline, which addressed the separation of Maria Shriver and Arnold Schwarzenegger. While images of such notable political couples as Nancy and Ronald Reagan, Laura and George W. Bush, and Michelle and Barack Obama ran across the screen, John Donvan said:

Political marriages [are] presented to us as enduring partnerships – models for the rest of us to follow. It’s why the wife is always part of the campaign. It is why this wife is called “first lady.” We are sold a package and when we buy it, we want the damn thing to work.

There has only been one president in U.S. history who was a life-long bachelor. Politicians know that being (and staying) married makes them seem safe, dependable and stable. They have families who love and trust them, so we trust them more. By simply existing, their spouses and children vouch for them. They sell us the image of a happy couple to get votes, and we buy it.

We buy this image, along with all the things we imagine to be true about these couples – even with nothing on which to base these beliefs but press conferences, campaign videos and family photos. And we think that we should have the same story for ourselves. So, when our own relationships don’t go as planned, we feel like failures, because we didn’t attain the lasting, “happy” partnerships modeled for us. And when our politicians get divorced, we feel let down. They didn’t hold up their end of the bargain.

Of course, we’d save ourselves some disappointment if we remembered that the image we are buying might not be genuine. There comes a time when politicians don’t need our votes anymore and can prioritize their happiness over their public image. It has been suggested that Arnold and Maria were unhappy for many years but that they remained together for the sake of his political career. If that is true, I wish they had separated sooner, rather than waiting until we no longer needed them to act “right.” It might have helped other divorced couples feel less ashamed. Ending or changing a relationship doesn’t mean you have failed at being an upright, responsible person; it may just mean that your relationship no longer makes you and/or your partner happy.

I refuse to model my relationship on anyone else’s – not my parents,’ nor Barack’s. My mate and I have our own, unique histories and futures. And there is peace in knowing that I can’t get it wrong, because there is no “right” way. All our relationship has to do is work for us, the two people in it. And if my father gets divorced, or if Barack and Michelle don’t last “’til death do us part,” I might feel empathy for their pain, but I won’t be disappointed. Their marriages have little to do with mine, or with whether they are good people.

So, let’s let politicians off the hook. Accepting that they are only human and that human relationships often end (without any need for blame or judgment) is a step towards doing the same for ourselves – and a step towards being a more Powerful Person in a Partnership.

Keep Rising,

Frank Love

www.FrankLove.com

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Leave a Comment: Let Us Know Your Thoughts

How to Gracefully Exit a Relationship

34 Comments on “Arnold and Maria: Does Their Split Really Concern You?”

  1. Barbara S. Says:

    I agree with Frank Love’s very well-written article on Arnold and Maria and how society views celebrity marriages. Nobody can know or understand the dynamics of an intimate relationship better than the two unique people who are involved in it and no two relationships are exactly alike.
    What surprises me most about the Arnold and Maria split is that he cheated with such an unattractive woman. Arnold’s wife Maria is so beautiful and kept herself in such great shape. The other woman doesn’t hold a candle to Maria in appearance … so it is not like he was being enticed by someone better than what he already had.
    The thought occurred to me that Arnold might have finally come to the realization that he loves Maria more than he did before — at least he finally respects and trusts her enough to tell her the truth, knowing that he would most likely lose her in the process. So it’s rather backwards in a way that at a time when he finally makes an effort to come clean (and might finally be committed enough to play it straight) is when they split.

    If more people would spend half the effort forgiving and reconciling with a former spouse as they do starting a brand new relationship, I think more marriages could be saved. In this case, however, the betrayal for Maria involved much more than the unfaithfulness of her husband, but the betrayal of a trusted household staff member as well. That’s got to feel worse than treason. Maria must feel like beating the crap out of that other woman as well. For this marriage to be saved, Arnold would have to prove to Maria that he is truly repentant for the rest of his life and Maria would have to get to a place of true forgiveness. With professional help and a strong Christian faith, that could happen, if they had enough good things in the relationship to make the effort.

    The saddest part is the impact that it will have on the children. For their youngest son to learn he has a half-brother only five days younger than him must be difficult to comprehend how that could have happened. Do the children now have a relationship with the new sibling? Would they want to get to know him better? How will this affect their children’s ability to trust others in their relationships? I do not understand why cheaters fail to think about all of the devasting consequences of their actions before they indulge in such dispicable behavior. If they gave it one moment’s thought, would that not be enough to stop them? I believe fidelity is a choice that people make ahead of time. It does NOT just happen. People either choose to cheat or choose not to cheat, and only a very selfish person would choose to cheat. Religious beliefs might also play an important part in what a person will or will not do, but it really boils down to whether a person is selfish enough to indulge in infidelity. In the end, even that backfires because cheaters often end up hurting themselves more than anyone else.

  2. Judy Bin-Nun, Ph.D., LMFT Says:

    As a study of Narcissism and the sense of entitlement, yes..it concerns us as therapists. This is not about political figures or people in the movie business…it is the narcissistically vulnerable couple has presented itself in my practice — interpretations, change and honesty/self disclosure are difficult if the Narcissist doesn’t decide to bolt!

  3. Monique Y. Says:

    Personally, I could care less about it but I do think he deserves whatever scorn he gets because his hypocrisy has been exposed. He positioned himself as a family man and a political leader who often voiced his opinions about the lives and actions of other government leaders. As Governor, Arnold made decisions and judgements about how others should live their lives. Now, much like Newt Gingrich and Rush Limbaugh, his deceit is apparent.

  4. Stacey Alphonso, MBA Says:

    I have to say, I couldn’t care less. It’s hard enough to deal with an infidelity, but to have it publicly displayed day after day should be a private matter. I’d only want to hear about it again unless he used public money to finance his trysts- then it matters.

  5. James Douglass Says:

    The simple and professional answer: no.

  6. Jacqui Pownall Says:

    No one is perfect and it is naive to think so. Although I was particularly sad to hear of this split. I use pictures of Arnold and Maria in body language training as she always seemed content and happy with him although he was often distant in photographs as if his mind was elsewhere. Now we know it was.

  7. Anna R Ryan PhD MFT Says:

    When Betty Ford came forth with her disease of Addiction, the Betty Ford center was built and many have been forturnate enough to have attended and gain a foothold into sobriety and ongoing recovery. I diagnosis and treat addictions and must be interested in anyone, public or private, who appear to exhibite high risk behaviors that create unmanageability and pain for themselves and others. I have reached out to many individuals, public and private, and offered help. Many have gasped and taken help. The offer of help is my duty and i would feel very remise if i did not offer help where clearly help is needed. There is no judgement on disease or those who are impacted.

  8. Penny Cohen Says:

    I love your article. It says so much about who we set up as role models and gives some of us excuses, “If they can’t make it why should we?” Or, if he can do it, so can I.” Unfortunately politicians, like the rest of us are human beings and we haven’t learned the concept of soul love and what it means. I believe we are all here to learn how to love. Love ourselves, love others, love our community, love our nation and out of that love comes a deeper compassion for others, a deeper commitment to be willing to work things out, and deeper feeling of peace, inner satisfaction and joy. I think if we started with our politicians learning that, and then being role models, we’d certainly have a better world in which to live.

  9. Sara Rodriguez, English/Spanish/French Says:

    no

  10. Laurette LeGendre, AIA, NCARB Says:

    Their issues won’t pay my bills, so I refuse to get bogged down with the news.

    All I can say is “Another one bites the dust”. Now can we get back to the issue of jobs, the economy, etc. Furthermore – somewhere in America a little child is either hungry, abused, missing. or just died.

  11. BJ Says:

    No. Many of our relationships started falling apart when we started basing our ideas of love and marriage on images and relationships portrayed in the media.

  12. David Breslow Says:

    no…why would it? I’m sorry they have to go through it but it is a result of choices made and now the ramifications of that choice being made. While i wish no one any ill thoughts–it is theirs to move through.

  13. Satori Shakoor Says:

    I could care less about Arnold and Maria splitting. Maria is a smart woman. Even a dumb woman has intuition and knows when her man is cheating. I’m sorry. Maria either covered for him, herself and/or for her children. Funny it came out AFTER he left office. As far as Barbara’s comment about the woman being less attractive than Maria. Look for the episode of Oprah that lays out why men cheat and you’ll find it has nothing to do with how the “other” woman looks. It has do with how she makes him feel. Men cheat and women pretend they don’t or they shouldn’t. Our downfall is that we try to stuff human nature into our limited ideas of relationship and marriage. Some fool on FOX News with Dr. in front of his name actually had the nerve to say Maria “should” stand by her man. Please. Life is bigger than our limited view of it. Choice is power. Operating in reality is power. Know who you are and what you want and go for it. Disappointment is part of the learning curve. Pain if part of our transformational journey. Acceptance is our access to wisdom. Forgiveness is our access to peace. Expecting perfection from anyone is futile. Period. My two cents…

  14. Erean Fiakpuyi Says:

    Clinically, yes Arnold’s behavior is concerning. But, on a personal level not only does the split between these two not concern me, I can’t understand why so many people seem shocked. Here’s a man whose had the stink of being a sexual predator follow him for years
    .
    As with many women married to narcissistic men, Maria, stood by her man, and defended him when other woman accused him of sexual harassment. Arnold in turn made a joke of the situation and stated “I’ve acted badly in the past.” Give me a break, at the time he was an old man with too much power, not a horny 16-yr old boy!

  15. Linda Diaz Says:

    I think it is horrible! Heard RUMORS before. Be a man not a cheat especially if you r in public position. I am so Glad my Dad wasn’t a pig. Stories like this make me not trust men and women and that is sad! No honor!

  16. Linda Diaz Says:

    That jerk would have to be guarded 24 hours a day! No way!

  17. Gloria Feldt Says:

    As someone who speaks on women, power, and leadership, I find the situation both fascinating and frustrating. You might be interested in my latest blog post http://gloriafeldt.com/2011/05/20/sex-power-irony-and-why-maria-shriver-will-be-back/ , but not the last, on the topic. I’d love to know what you all think about this aspect of the issue.

  18. Ann Burton Says:

    Loved Frank’s post–really, each relationship is personal and private and others cannot know exactly what happens between two people. However, from my own life, betrayal is a terrible thing and the experience infects relationships for the rest of our lives, especially for children. Adults have a responsibility to each other, but absolutely to their children. Often we (especially women) live in denial, and I have often said that it may be unrealistic for a man/woman to have sex with only one or two people in their lives. But, if a man/woman values their relationship and needs something outside, they should keep it outside and not bring it home. Arnold’s shame is that he flaunted it at home not only with the housekeeper, but with a child in the household. Bringing it home is unforgivable in my view—the ultimate betrayal that says knife in the back.

  19. Phyllis Kasper Says:

    It concerns me in terms of the deep disrespect for women that Aronold’s behavior expresses. Here is someone, a governor, who has no respect for half the people who vote and half of his constituents. I’m even more concerned that women voters don’t seem to get that part of it. Also there is a big difference between “acting badly in the past” and living a lie for years. We should hold politicians to a higher standard for earning our trust. A man acting selfishly is one thing, a powerful “servant of the people” living a lie & disrespecting all women is another.

  20. Eileen Pugh Says:

    Their split concerns me in regards to the message it sends to our young ones. The media, having to fill time 24/7, goes into details that should not be known by the public. It also shows that you can lie and cheat and still be successful, then it’s okay. I think if you ask High School students what they think, you will most likely hear that it’s no big deal. Too much is available to them and it is sending a horrible message.

  21. Eban Walters Says:

    Nope

  22. Janis Evans, M.Ed.,LPC Says:

    Although I feel that ultimately it’s not our business, it places the topic of infidelity on the public stage. Whether the names are “Arnold & Maria,” “Bill & Hilary,” “John & Elizabeth,” or a couple you know personally, or perhaps yourself, the result is the same: painfully cutting disappointment and broken trust. Most of you, including Frank, have stated the obvious, that we cannot let celebrities or politians represent the “how to” standards on relationships. At the end of the day, they are just regular people, whether they are pictured on a box of cereal or took an oath for public office. The only difference between “us and them” is that they chose positions and careers that place them in an open theater where they are characters in a play that runs 24/7/365. If they flub their lines, we boo and hiss but we can’t stop returning to watch and critique the play because we’re so fascinated by their mistakes and inadequacies, as well as the juicy content of the story line. What if your play became public in your neighborhood theater?

    I obviously don’t know this couple but I still found myself feeling very disappointed at the split and profoundly sad when the additional details were revealed. Why? Not because he was a politian, not because she’s a Kennedy but because I’m a wife. My empathy and compassion made me see them as regular people, just like me. My heart went out to their children.

    Please understand that I am in no way excusing the reckless behavior of intentional deception by anyone, politian or the average spouse. I’d just rather emphasize that our empathy and compassion for regular people and their shortcomings should temper our human nature to point fingers, gaze like voyeurs, criticize and quickly condemn. It’s just very, very sad and painful. I wish the injured parties peace.

  23. Monique Chapman Says:

    I agree.. who is perfect and who are we to judge anyone circumstances. They will work it out for their highest good, and everyone else should just leave it/them alone. Just my opinion.

  24. Massander Says:

    I really don’t think most of can honestly tell why we care about these kinds of stories. I have thought of a few reasons (not necessarily in this order):

    1) The drama of it is like a scandalous reality show playing out in front of our very eyes. In a sense, Arnold is our entertainment. He has played that role for years. He is the leading star. His story is scintillating, particularly since he started to live what seemed to be a freak show by becoming the governor of CA for two consecutive terms.

    2) They are both wealthy celebrities who are/have ties to high profile politicians. Americans are fascinated with celebrities and the wealthy; just look how many “reality” shows are dedicated to watching their lives, but perhaps most importantly their drama. We hardly ever admit it, but many of us are fascinated! We live vicariously through them, we judge them, and we project all kinds of expectations onto them. It’s almost as if we feel more successful because we see ourselves as superior to those who we tend to consider successful. In a sense, our own insecurities needs people like Arnold to “fail.”

    3) We also love stories where people fall from grace or get caught, especially if they are powerful. We can talk badly about them and feel better about ourselves because their failings make us feel better than them. It gives us the freedom to wag our fingers and share our judgments of them.

    4) Talking about stories like these also serves as a way for us to form tacit agreements about “right” and “wrong.” So many people want it to be clear that what Arnold did was “wrong.” They hope that the public berating of Arnold will reinforce that “it is never ok to cheat” and other lessons. Men, beware. (I find it interesting that people aren’t talking as much about the fact that the housekeeper was also a married woman who ostensibly misled her husband into believing he fathered this baby.)

    One of the concerns I have is about the number of people who use these kinds of stories to generalize about men or about women. These kinds of stories can easily be used to perpetuate the storyline out there that goes something like, “all men cheat” or “women are victimized by men.” While I believe some men cheat and some women are victimized, I do worry about how stories like this create one more hurdle for those who may be all to glad to have more reasons to lower their expectations or simplify the way they see men or women.

    It’s hard and extremely rare not to have societal norms influence, if not dictate, the form and function of our relationships. It “naturally” follows, then, that many of us talk things through by latching on to these kinds of stories.

  25. Massander Says:

    One last reason we care about stories like this: they confirm or challenge our beliefs about the institution of marriage which plays a significant role in our culture. Stories like this become a part of “the conversation” about the institution, it’s merits, it’s failures, and everything in between. We care because these kinds of stories touch on a lot of things we care about.

    Nonetheless, you point out a lot of the traps inherent in deifying movie stars and the wealthy.

  26. Mathina Calliope Says:

    I don’t spend much time personally worrying about celebrity relationships, but in the sense that Massander notes above, in that they can shape our beliefs about institutions, I do think they matter. Clearly, as they are right here, they influence our discussion and dialogue.

    It goes back to the discussion we had the other day, about what we expect from our leaders. If they are merely representative, then we don’t expect from them any more than what we expect of ourselves. But if we want them to inspire us or to be great in some way we want to follow, different story. We certainly are not dewey-eyed enough in this day and age to think our politicians and other leaders are in a different moral category from our own, but in the sense that their behavior does become a talking point, I would argue that they do have some greater responsibility than do private citizens.

  27. Arnold and Maria (Part II): A Wildly Successful Relationship | Frank Love Says:

    […] Media Resume « Arnold and Maria: Does Their Split Really Concern You? […]

  28. Rosalind Sedacca, CCT Says:

    Only in regards to how their teens will be affected by the circumstances and media frenzy.

    I’ve written an article on the special ways teen react to divorce hoping to use this headline-generating divorce as a tool for educating all parents with teens during a breakup. You can read it at: http://www.childcentereddivorce.com — just click on the BLOG button.

  29. Melissa Says:

    Somewhere down the line it was deemed that any public position, job or hobby HAS to hide behind what looks right… the funny thing to me is all the ones that SAY how things should look remain very private about how things are in their own lives. I’m not into looking or cleaning anyone esle’s back yard – I have my own weeds to pull! It is unfortunate but certainly NOT NEW or NEWS. Arnold had these rumors before they met – she (they) were ideal for the political journey they choose. He is no more deplorable today than he was when he bedded someone IN HIS OWN home, produced a child and lived with the lie until…. wait WHY did this suddenly come out (is my reaction)??? I question ALL big DISTRACTIONS LOL. This is the same media explosion that occured when the little blonde girls continue to get drunk and arrested – then released and arrested again – like ITS NEWS! The propaganda machine is always on but thats another blog LOL! I have no expectation that my politicians will be anything OTHER than politicians liars, cheaters, game players etc. – on and off camera!

    All I can really say on the matter is that was a HEAVY lie to live with for YEARS and I hope they ALL heal and move on to whats next in their lives.

  30. Lance Lawshe Says:

    Now that I have read the article, I can still say their message has nothing to do with mine. But because of what he’s done, he will suffer the consequences, just like everyone else who would do the same.

    I am reminded of a Proverbs 5 verses 7-14:

    So now, my sons, listen to me.
    Never stray from what I am about to say:
    8 Stay away from her!
    Don’t go near the door of her house!
    9 If you do, you will lose your honor
    and will lose to merciless people all you have achieved.
    10 Strangers will consume your wealth,
    and someone else will enjoy the fruit of your labor.
    11 In the end you will groan in anguish
    when disease consumes your body.
    12 You will say, “How I hated discipline!
    If only I had not ignored all the warnings!
    13 Oh, why didn’t I listen to my teachers?
    Why didn’t I pay attention to my instructors?
    14 I have come to the brink of utter ruin,
    and now I must face public disgrace.”

    It would be smart to pay attention to how the Lord would have us to be in our relationships. I know sometimes it is good to have a good example like the Huxtables on CBS, but not even our beloved brother Bill Cosby did it all right in his real relationship.

    Be wise.

  31. Famvie Yongosi Says:

    I’m not really concered but society tends to put certain people on a pedistal as if they are not human. People mess up everyday, and if a political figure meeses up in his marrige we have gone as far as impeaching them for some of the same things that an everyday man has done. Dont get me wrong its not right what he did, but at the same time political figures have groupies just as atheletes ,and in arnolds case actors as well. At the same time its up to the individual to make the choice of going down the road of stepping out. I’ve never been married, nor am I in the public spotlight. So i do not know the how hard it would be to resist, but I am human just as he is and we will make mistakes in life. So I believe if she’s truley the “Amercan Wife” like she is portraid to be they would not be seperating, because she’s a Kennedy and we all know infedelity went on in there family, but the wives didnt leave. she forgave the man and stayed. Look at JFK and Maryln Monore, Jackie O remained married to him. I guess its a different time as well, but its just my thoughts.

  32. Danny G Says:

    Appropriate or not can be debated!…however Bro’ Frank has presented an issue that is much deeper than Arnold and Maria’s situation and that is…”Are you absolutely certain that their situation is not affecting the peace an tranquility that you have attempted to create under your ROOF!…and if ya don’t know you better find out?

  33. Celebrity Marriages: Why Do We Care? | Frank Love Says:

    […] I find interesting is not the track record of celebrity marriages; it is that the public cares so much and that many of us seem to model our behavior after what we think celebrities are doing in […]

  34. Kelly Kennedy Says:

    I come from a political family, mine was as messed up as any I have worked with (accurately some less and some more). I have worked in private practice and in agencies, high end and low end. I have also worked in the prison system. Being in a socially privileged position means nothing in terms of being more emotionally “together”. When I was a young boy in the 1960’s and people learned my last name there was a significant change in there demeanor towards me. My last name is Kennedy, to the best of my knowledge I am not related, though it was assumed at that time that I was.
    Given all of this I think to a large extent we as a society have deified greed, external power or power over others and the appearance of such trappings some how we bought the lie that this makes us happy. When I go to a party and tell people I am a landlord (I think they think I have money) they come closer, When I tell them I am a psychotherapist they tend to move away and are guarded with their words. Again I think they think I some how I will know how “messed up” they are (since deep in side they feel this way). I think they are afraid of being seen for who they are, an angry, sad, hurt, disappointed human being. And the truth is this is not who we are, it is part of our experience but no who we are, even many of us experience this.
    I think our fascination with “power” is reflective of our wanting this “icky” inner self to go away. Then when see some one like the famous people have problems we some how feel better about ourselves and are fascinated that the “trappings” did not isolate them from themselves.

    This does not even start to address the self selecting, narcissistic aspect of politics, athletics, and the entertainment in general. Power over others, adoration and money what more does a narcissistic person want (on the surface anyway).

    I am in agreement with Satori, Monique, and Judy.

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