Arnold Schwarzenegger and Maria Shriver’s Separation: Were you affected? (Part I)

On May 9, 2011, many of us read in the LA Times, “Former Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and his wife, Maria Shriver, have separated, with Shriver moving out of their Brentwood mansion while the two determine the next step in their 25-year marriage.”

It’s startling to read about any celebrity couple parting ways after years of seemingly blissful marriage, isn’t it?

Yet, I’ve noticed the news of separation, divorce and infidelity of some iconic couples impact one’s inner peace, more than others. In the days following headline news of Arnold’s secret affair with his housekeeper, a 13-year-old love child and whispers of divorce, it wasn’t just Maria who slipped into grief and depression. Were you one of them? I’ll admit, it struck a deep nerve in me!

Friends and clients alike confessed, “This one hit them harder emotionally” than other celebrity splits.  My guess is thousands, if not millions know exactly what I’m talking about.  It’s true, other couple’s breakups, divorces and separations can affect us on multiple levels.

  • Why does our inner peace get disturbed when high-profile couples call it quits?
  • Why do some breakups affect us more than others?
  • How can we find inner peace in the middle of deflating news of divorce?

Before addressing these questions and giving you a few inner peace tips, let’s take note: “all celebrity divorces” (and all divorces in general), are not equally upsetting.

And yes, I realize some, including my husband John, aren’t affected in the slightest when “notables” split. If that’s you, then reading this article may help you understand why others are affected.

If you read through the Celebrity Divorces & Breakups of 2010/2011, there are a few “parting of the ways” that are simply predictable.  Not surprising Larry King would divorce wife #7, after his not-so-committed history.  And how about wild-man Charlie Sheen divorcing his third wife after two years of marriage? While I have compassion for their wives, it’s certainly less jolting news.

Four factors that influence how much you’re emotionally affected by celebrity breakups — or not.


1.  The more identified you are with a celebrity…the more personal the “break-up” feels.

For instance, bad-boy Jesse James cheated on “girl-next-door” Sandra Bullock within 4 years of marriage.  Again, not so surprising.  Yet, those who see Sandra as a “kindred sister” or are a “big fan” likely felt double or triple the pain for her heartbreak and humiliation.   While I’ve never met Sandra personally, I’m one of the countless women who feel, “she’s like me.”  Sandra is someone I feel I could be friends with.  How about you? Or maybe, we just want to be like her.  In either case, we’re “identified” with Sandra Bullock.

So when she is betrayed, at some level, it feels like it is happening to “us.”  Bummer!  Or worse yet, this could happen to “us” in the future. Yikes!!! When even one of America’s Sweethearts gets “screwed over,” it bursts the fantasy of the “happily ever after” for the rest of us.  As we grieve the loss of this love story, could “our love story” be threatened too?

It doesn’t make logical sense, yet people are affected the more they identify themselves with someone.

2.  How “in love” was the couple?

The more the media spotlights how “in love” a dynamic duo was… the harder it is to see it come to an end. After 16 years and three children, college sweethearts Kevin Costner and now ex-wife Cindy ended their marriage.  And this year, Melissa Gilbert and husband Bruce Boxleitner split after 16 years of marriage. Weren’t they all really “in love?”

When “in love” couples bump into irreconcilable differences, does it taint the idea of love lasting forever?  Are stories like these predicting the fate of your future?

Of course, they are not.  But, again, sometimes it feels like it.

3.  How LONG was the couple together?

The longer a couple stays together, the more we assume their love is strong. Right?  Maybe for our grandparents generation. But, not today. Disheartening?!!  When a couple has been married 16, 19 or even 28 years, like Mel Gibson was… the news is shocking.

Apparently, length of time does NOT matter.  Time is not a reliable predictor of love lasting forever. Sniff.

Again, “their” divorces burst “our” bubble of hope for the “happily-ever-after.”  The longer a couple is married, typically the more upsetting it is. Wouldn’t you agree?

4.  How do you perceive the “character” and “integrity” of the couples divorcing?

Men and women who embody integrity, honesty and commitment are rarities in today’s world.  It’s refreshing and inspiring to see people honoring these values in a world with countless temptation.  They are examples of possibility.

Tiger Woods stood for integrity until his secret sex life became public.  Suddenly, everything he stood for is tarnished.  Just as his wife felt betrayed, so did the world.  How many other seemingly loyal men and women are indulging in secret affairs?  Can anyone be trusted?

Perhaps even more shocking, high school sweethearts Al and Tipper Gore announcing their decision to divorce after 40 years of marriage last June 2010. Certainly this high profile, high integrity couple was meant to be?  Apparently not.

The values of integrity, honesty and commitment aren’t always strong enough to make a marriage work.

Arnold Schwarzenegger and Maria Shriver call it quits.

That brings us to the couple of the hour. Why are so many heart-broken over their choices?

Arnold Schwarzenegger and Maria Shriver are easy to identify with, whether you’re a Republican or Democrat, fitness buff, news buff, mover goer, high-achieving woman, romantic, mother, father or philanthropist.  Their loving marriage was born out of passion, and promoted as a “fairy-tale picture.”  Wasn’t it? They were together 25+ years, not to mention the 4 children. And, while rumors of “groping” floated during election time, Maria stood by her man with conviction. We believed in them. We believed in what they stood for. We believed this was one couple that would be together forever.

For many of us, Arnold and Maria’s separation was a quadruple whammy.

How about you?  I’d love to hear how you were affected and how you relate to one of the points above.

Join me on Monday, for Part II, where I’ll share several inner peace tips to help ease heartbreak in the face of any divorce news.


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2 Responses to “Arnold Schwarzenegger and Maria Shriver’s Separation: Were you affected? (Part I)”

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