The high cost of secrets in Schwarzenegger's affair

Patrick Schwarzenegger, now using the last name of Shriver, may have summed up the shocking collapse of his parents' marriage best in his post on Twitter yesterday:

“Some days you feel like s---. Some days you want to quit and just be normal for a bit, yet I love my family till death do us apart. #family”

The news that Arnold Schwarzenegger fathered a child out of wedlock that is approximately the same age as Schwarzenegger and Shriver's son Christopher makes you wonder how this ultimate betrayal could happen. Do the math and you might have already guessed it: While working in the couple's mansion their housekeeper was pregnant at the same time as Shriver. According to ABC News:

Mildred Patricia Baena is the woman with whom former California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger fathered a son about 14 years ago ... Known as Patty, she reportedly worked in the famliy home as a housekeeper and assistant for more than 20 years, until January.

Betrayal in a marriage has two parts–the act of the infidelity and the deception that follows. Arnold Schwarzenegger kept his extra-marital affair quiet for over a decade, even with Baena working in his house and interacting with Shriver and her children.  Since Schwarzenegger publicly admitted the scandal yesterday, he has not said anything more. 

Back in 2003 after allegations that Schwarzenegger made unwanted sexual advances on women, Shriver defended her husband and many credit her support for saving his gubernatorial campaign. No one except Schwarzenegger and Baena knew the real bombshell--the fact that he had fathered a son with Baena a few years before he ran for governor.

Now women (and men) are asking themselves about the cost of Shriver's support. By standing by her man and helping him politically did she overlook the higher cost to her marriage?

The Terminator has been dubbed "Sperminator" by Bonnie Bonnie Fuller, editor in chief of celebrity website Hollywood Life. Gossip sites grow more popular because in the end many men get caught behaving badly. Consider the high-profile affairs of Tiger Woods, South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford, New York Gov. Eliot Spitzer, and former senator and presidential candidate John Edwards.

The drive for power makes politicians at even greater risk for having an affair. Alan Greenblat explains on NPR:

"There's good evidence that men with great power and status are, in fact, more prone to affairs," says Todd Shackelford, who directs the evolutionary psychology lab at Oakland University in Michigan.

Are some individuals missing the shame gene? Leslie Marshall writes in USNews.com:

But as a woman I was quite concerned about something no one seems to be speaking about.  Why will women easily slip into bed with another's husband?!  And on top of that, she worked in the home seeing this man’s wife and children day in and day out. Has she no shame?

Shriver is incredibly resilient. Asking for privacy for the sake of her children, she is taking the high road. According to NYTimes.com in her own statement Tuesday, she made it clear she is putting her children first:

“As a mother, my concern is for the children,” she said. “I ask for compassion, respect and privacy as my children and I try to rebuild our lives and heal. I will have no further comment.”

Hard to imagine Shriver would have the energy to keep up public appearances, but yesterday Shriver was one of the celebrities at Oprah's final show taping. Richard Lawson on Gawker reports:

"As the gossip hurricane rages on, Maria Shriver stands brave and resolute with her friend Oprah." 

Having the last word in an argument doesn't mean you win. However, an exception might be those times you can offer a word of insight. According to Gawker, Shriver did make one last insightful dig at her cheating husband when she told Oprah:

"You have shown love, support, wisdom, and most of all," she said, with a big, meaningful pause, "the truth."

More facts and more truths will be revealed in this saga I'm sure. But most of all, I'm hoping in the future more women can make it their mission to stop living in that gray area of betrayal and start seeking the light of truth.

 

Chris Olson

Writer and illustrator

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

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