News on the former first couple of California just keeps coming – *the latest being that Schwarzenegger fathered a “love child” with one of his housekeepers more than a decade ago. Though many aspects of this couple’s relationship have been discussed in great detail recently, no one is talking about the ways in which their relationship was successful. Divorce or no divorce, talk about being goal-oriented!
First, let’s dispel any notion that Maria Shriver did not know about Arnold Schwarzenegger’s “love child” until recently. This woman is an award-winning journalist and bestselling author of several books – the type of woman who is curious, intuitive, and capable of putting two and two together. And we are to believe that she didn’t know her husband had a child with a member of her household staff? Not likely.
I am not suggesting that she was happy about it, or that the situation was ever OK with her. I have no way of knowing how she felt about it. But she was not upset enough to leave her husband while he had a bright political career ahead of him, which means that she, too, was getting something out of his political success. That prestige and power was clearly more valuable to her than leaving the man to whom she no longer wanted to be married (assuming the rumors we are hearing about their unhappy marriage are true). The bottom line: This marriage served both of their goals, or it wouldn’t have lasted this long. Therefore, it was successful by their definition – even if not by yours or mine.
Let’s face it. You were played … like a flute. In last week’s blog, “Arnold and Maria: Does Their Split Really Concern You?,” I wrote that we want political couples to appear happy and stable – especially a beloved actor and a member of one of the most glamorous political families in U.S. history. Well, you wanted it, and you got it. They gave us nothing. Yes, there were rumors, but none of us had anything substantial to go on. The first couple kept the facts quiet as long as they needed us to buy their story. Now, he is no longer governor of California, and it seems unlikely that Congress will change the law prohibiting foreign-born citizens from running for president – at least in the near future. There is no longer any need for them to prioritize politics over marital bliss, so they’re calling it quits.
To most of us, the unraveling of this marriage and all its skeletons seem to suggest that their relationship was not a successful one. I disagree. If a goal of their marriage was to have a powerful political career – something that their combined names, reputations and likeability helped them accomplish – they were successful. While they may not have turned out to be the All-American couple they led us to believe they were, they certainly understand the “American Dream.” They set a goal and they reached it.
To many, the idea of getting (or staying) married for political reasons may seem disingenuous or disrespectful of the sanctity of marriage. But no two marriages are the same – and neither are the reasons we get into them. Some people get married because of love, some because of friendship, and others because they want a family. People stay in unhappy marriages because of children, religious beliefs, family pressure and even politics. The list of motivations goes on and on, but at the end of the day, everyone has their reasons, and they are all legitimate in that they serve our individual purposes. Otherwise, we would leave.
Arnold and Maria had their reasons to get married, had their reasons to stay in that marriage for 25 years, and have their reasons to change it in whatever way they decide now … just like everyone else.
Understanding that success is in the eye of the beholder, especially when it comes to relationships, is yet another way to be a more Powerful Person in a Partnership.
*This blog was written before allegations of Schwarzenegger fathering other children outside of his marriage being made public.
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