Did you see Leslie Stahl’s “60 Minutes” interview with Arnold Schwarzenneger? If not, you missed a real doozy. Seems Arnold has a new autobiography out that gives the lowdown on his life including the sad ending of his marriage to Maria Shriver. The interview, I have to admit, left me with a certain amount of compassion for the man who suffered greatly at the hand of a cold, abusive father. At the same time, I had to pick my jaw up off of the floor several times with some of his revelations.
Secrets. Arnold is the king of secrets. Try this one: he was going to have open heart surgery, and told his doctor he had a plan to keep it a secret from Maria. The doc was incredulous, as any “normal” person would be. How can you keep open heart surgery a secret from your wife with a big, long scar in the middle of your chest? And I might add: why would you even want to? Another jaw-dropper was that he didn’t tell Maria that he was going to run for governor of California until a few days before he was to announce. Can you believe it? That he wouldn’t talk to his wife and family about a decision that would so intensely involve the whole family? Shouldn’t they have a say in it?
Of course the biggest secret that finally did his marriage in was that he had an affair with his housekeeper who 9 months later had his child. Mildred, the housekeeper, didn’t tell Arnold the kid was his, but five or so years later Arnold noticed his own face when he looked at the kid, and bingo, that’s when he knew. So without saying a word to Mildred, he began giving her money. They never talked about it. Recognize a pattern here?
He kept his affair and his kid a secret from Maria for years because “I didn’t know how to tell her.” Oh, Arnie, Arnie. Really? That’s your reason? Maria guessed when she too noticed a little Arnold running around with her own kids. Then that was it for the marriage. She finally walked out.
Arnold said that his family was the most important thing in his life. That Maria was his true partner advising him on everything–bodybuilding poses, movie scripts and politics. Obviously she didn’t advise him on the need to talk to her intimately, which was eventually their downfall. Now he’s lost his family and says that the terrible pain he inflicted on them has torn his heart out. And when he looks back, he asks himself “how could I have done that?”
Well, here’s how, Arnold. You lived in denial and kept enormous secrets from your wife, two things that spit in the face of intimacy. You had no commitment to knowing yourself on a deeper level, and self-awareness is the key to intimacy. Looking beneath “that’s just the way I am” (a statement he made more than once in the interview) and not just accepting it as the truth of who you are would go a long way toward preventing disasters in your life. You need to uncover the unconscious motivations that drive your behaviors. Keeping yourself in the dark will only lead to more inappropriate behaviors which, in turn, will lead to more pain for yourself and those around you.
Now you know…many of your behaviors were anything but appropriate. They caused the breakup of your marriage. You lost your family, the most cherished thing in your life. And you know that question you asked yourself in the interview? “How could I have done that?” Well, that’s a great question. And one you should pursue if you truly want a satisfying, loving relationship in the future. I really hope that you find some answers. I don’t believe you’re a bad person; you just did some very bad things out of your unconsciousness. This sad ending could be your wake up call to become more conscious. I hope you don’t sleep through the alarm.
Check out my book, The Affair: From Breakdown to Breakthrough, A Therapist’s Real-life Journey, for more great tips and insights about breakups and relationships. You can read a synopsis of the book on my website, www.infidelityandaffairs.com and buy it worldwide from all Amazon websites (both print and Kindle) and Barnes and Noble.