Last week we did a Good Question inspired by the separation of former California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and his wife Maria Shriver. We talked about the phenomenon of older, long-time married couples getting divorced.

But now we know why this couple split.

According to the Los Angeles Times, Arnold cheated on Maria more than a decade ago with a member of their household staff. She got pregnant. He was the father. The Times reported that he took responsibility from the beginning, privately.

After he acknowledged that he was the child’s father to Maria Shriver, she moved out.

Schwarzenegger issued a statement to the Times: “I understand and deserve the feelings of anger and disappointment among my friends and family. There are no excuses and I take full responsibility for the hurt I have caused. I have apologized to Maria, my children and my family. I am truly sorry.”

This got me thinking about forgiveness. It’s a conversation my wife and I have had many times. If she cheated on me, a one-time deal, I think I’d forgive her. She thinks she would not forgive me.

If Arnold cheated on Maria 10 years ago, should she forgive? I presume there are other issues that happened in the marriage of late — but if we assume they had a perfect marriage, is one thing enough to make you pick up and leave? Share your thoughts in the comments.

UPDATE: 10:07AM: On Twitter, @Ryanol and @winkMSP make the salient point – that the adultery is one thing, but concealing an affair and a love child for more than 10 years, while the mistress lives in the house is quite another.

Jason DeRusha

Comments (40)
  1. Wayne LaRoche says:

    No, she should not forgive him. There is no statute of limitations on cheating – it is just plain wroing, violateing the deeply woven fiber of what a marriage is all about. To forgive one opens the door for an entire generation to think that cheating is okay, because the other spouse will forgive. Over time, a couple can learn to live with it, but forgive is not the solution.

    By the way, men and women think very differently about this issue – Men can’t see the femaile thnking and women can’t see the male thinking on the subject. Hmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm? Now there’s food for thought.

  2. Charlie Severson says:

    Personally I think if a marriage truly is as trusting, open and honest as it should be, then the spouse who is feeling the urge to cheat should be able to explore that feeling and the reasons behind it with the other spouse BEFORE it escalates. I don’t buy into the “heat of the moment” theory, either. You can control your impulses long enough to get out of the situation and calm down.

  3. Citizen says:

    A GOP hypocrite. Legislate morality and create social engineering for the rest of us while unzipping his pants at home. I don’t care what anyone does in their private life as long as they don’t try to shove their version of morality down my throat. Typical GOP, holier-than-thou, righteous moralist.

    1. A GOP says:

      Citizen, I totally agree with you, after your first sentence and before your last sentence. Democracy, Liberal / Conservative / Pick your choice, It’s part of the equation that makes this a great country. What you had to say was Great, but please, get off your GOP hypocrite Horse! President Clinton, “I did not have sexual relations with – That Woman” I could go on and on about both sides!
      Too bad your emotions ruined a Great Point.

      1. M B says:

        You’re correct, the Democrats aren’t any better in the matter, but at least they aren’t trying to force us by way of laws into a brand of morality that even they won’t follow themselves. That’s what the GOP is currently trying to do. That was his point, I think.

      2. Citizen says:

        @A GOP. You don’t get it. The GOP is trying to shove social engineering down everyone’s throats. The Democrats (Clinton) did not do that. The GOP is just a bunch of moral hypocrites.

        1. lib says:

          Just because they want a public vote on gay marraige? I think it is the gay bullies that are trying to FORCE their idea of morality or lack thereof down peoples throats. As far a abortion at least the GOP is trying to give a voice to the most vulnerable in our society. Neither of the above is social engineering. Mandating by LAW that people who aren’t on the dole buy inferior health care now that is social engineering. Thank you Pres Obama

        2. Dan says:

          Time for defintion check. A hypocrite is one who engages in behavior he criticizes/condemns in others. Did Schwartzenegger do that? Please provide examples. You can’t conflate the governator’s behavior with moral beliefs of other GOP politicians. Well, I guess “Citizen” already has, but the rest of us don’t have to swallow his illogic.

  4. Jake says:

    I hope the little one is doing well.

    1. Flower child says:

      Yes, Jake, the little one is the victim here of two consenting adulterers and will proabably always be known as Arnold Schwarzenegger’s “love child” for good or bad. Hopefully, for the good. Hopefully, the kid survives the limelight.

  5. Sarah in Outstate Mn says:

    I think there is probably much more behind this story than just the cheating and frankly it’s none of our business. Cheating is wrong and hurtful, but is forgiveable given time.

    1. Jason DeRusha says:

      Hey Citizen – watch your tone or we’ll block you. It’s OK to disagree- but we don’t tolerate the name-calling and personal attacks.

      1. Citizen says:

        But, it’s okay Jason when I get called Maxist and Communist? Apparently, your judgment is only toward certain comments.

      2. Sammi says:

        Thank you Jason. It’s bothersome that politics and finger pointing always seem to find a way into every comment, conversation, etc. despite this conversation focusing in on a couple who have been and are in the political spotlight. I suspect there were other issues before/after the cheating incident and a child being born out of this affair. Forgiveness can be found, but you don’t forget… and often times, if you can’t forget, you can’t heal completely… which can crack the foundation of even the most solid of relationships.

        1. Citizen says:

          @Sammi. The fingerpointing here is simple. Ex-governor Schwarzenegger is/was a public figure in a public job paid by the taxpayers of California. HIs personal life then is public. Plus, he took wedding vows which are a promise to be faithful–pretty straightforward language, as I remember. He violated his promises to his wife, he is, therefore unethical at the least, and an adulterer. Simple because he made vows and promises and broke them. It is unfortunate that his political party always holds itself up to being the nation’s moralist and taking a holier than thou attitude toward the rest of us.

          1. marnie says:

            Haha, so fiesty and riled up, panties in a bunch! Blood pressure is going through the roof! Wouldn’t it be nice to have zero problems in my personal life and therefore spend my energy getting all balled up about a story and other’s comments that have zero effect on the quality of my life.

          2. ryan says:

            citizen did you even think for one second that many other stars do this too? has it ever occurred in your thought that maybe even YOU have done something like this? because not all of us our perfect, not you or Arnold ………

  6. Just me says:

    Steven Hawking says there is no God.

    1. Al says:

      Chuck Norris just flew to California.

  7. Al says:

    Oh shut up! Take your “food for thought” somewhere else. I am so sick of the self righteous preachy nonsense as well as the idiot comments making Arnold’s douschebaggery about politcs or more than what it was … cheating. Get over it & start living your own lives. Geesh.

  8. red says:

    I like how it wanted to keep it quiet until he was out of office. Loser, they all can’t keep it in their pants. He has a 10 year old that no one knew about, I don’t blame Maria for leaving

  9. Jez says:

    He withheld this information while in office. What other information did he withhold from his constituents? We also don’t how long that affair went on. The woman was in his household until January. I presume the son was, too.

  10. Chuck says:

    One can believe he/she would be willing to forgive…and maybe forgiveness is possible. However, after someone cheats in a marriage there is a dark cloud that remains even if the spouse “forgives” the cheating companion. Call it guilt, call it suspicion, call it whatever. It never goes completely away. Once the trust factor is broken with something as serious as an affair, the marriage is changed forever.

  11. anonymous says:

    Thank you Jason. The he said she said. Why is it that something someone does in private becomes a political free for all and an outlet to bash the parties? It goes to the intelligence level. The important thing is the child is taken care of appropriately. The voters will determine who they want at the poles.

  12. Michelle says:

    No. For 10 years he lied to her, and to me, that is unforgivable. He wants her to forgive, he should have done that 10 years ago.

  13. Matty says:

    So, you didn’t like what Citizen said, but Food for Thought is just fine preaching a sermon? Citizen did not say anything that offensive at all. Using the word “hypocrite” and calling someone a “Typical GOP, holier-than-thou, righteous moralist.” is not using language. Citizen may have meant them as insults but … a person could be proud of being righteous, of being a moralist, of being called holier-than-thou, couldn’t they? And living a double standard does make someone a hypocrite.

  14. Victim Du Jour says:

    @ Citizen
    Sounds like you are the one pushing morality on people.

    I remember Maria Shriver looking like a beautiful model during the 80’s, but now she is showing age. Maria gave Arnold her best years, and now Arnold is tossing her too the side for something younger.

    Maybe he had a pull-out bed in his Office for staffers like David Letterman.

    1. Citizen says:

      Uh, Victim, if you get married and promise to be faithful, take vows, you are making promises you need to keep. That’s called ethics. If you don’t want to keep those sorts of promises, don’t get married. Simple. I think wedding vows are pretty straight forward.

  15. Jason DeRusha says:

    Citizen, if people call you names on my blog, and I see it- I’ll intervene. I can’t stay on top of all of this.

  16. Citizen says:

    Jason. Then don’t try to stay on top of it. If you follow Sarah from Outstate Minnesota’s postings, she is exactly what I accused her of–an apologist for any sort of behavior by the GOP–behavior she attacks in any other political persuasion. It’s too bad your original article on marriage and why couples of many years divorce was written before this all came out. I will stand by my comment that Schwarzenegger is a public figure in a public job that was funded by the taxpayers of California and as such, his behavior is in the public eye. And, I am a REAL person with a real e-mail address, not one of the phoney posters who are paid to do this.

  17. Ben says:


  18. Victim Du Jour says:

    I was just a kid and I knew Arnold was a Deebag, he was even a jerk toward Lou Ferrigno in the film “Pumping Iron”

    And Maria could have had any guy she wanted back when she was like a model, but she made her choice.

    All you can do is shrug your shoulders.

  19. Victim Du Jour says:


    Clinton passed the Violence Against Womens Act.

    Clinton made it illegal to get Oral sex from chubby interns at work, he also made it a crime to sexually assault women like Paula Jones and Juanita Brodrick.

  20. Sheryl says:

    It is not ok to cheat. I was cheated on several times. It hurts. I would never forgive my ex husband for what he did. Thjat is why he is an ex. Its hard to ever trust again. You will always wonder who will cheat on you next and why would they want to cheat. You always go around blaming yourself like its something you did to cause them to cheat. I will always have this in my mind. I have had counselling and it has not completely helped. Good job to Maria for leaving.

  21. ohoh says:

    In the question of forgiveness, if you forgive it releases you from bondage, the issue here with Maria should she decide to forgive, is that his past actions show a serious character flaw. The act it self is one thing to forgive, but to know that this mans character is so low is another. A man at 63 has the character he will always have, I

  22. Nancy Aleshire says:

    I see former California governor Arnold just pulled a “John Edwards” on his lovely wife. The only difference was Maria was not suffering from cancer. Unfaithfulness and violating the sanctitude of marriage is always wrong. My heart goes out to her and the children.

  23. tn says:

    any kind of cheating is wrong this doesnt have anything to do with rep or being a dem but it does have to do with when someone is preaching high standards then goes out and cheats… this is being a hypocrite…

  24. ryan says:

    The man does things that most of us do, just think about it….why get mad when a actor/governor cheats on his wife when in fact there is a chance you girlfriend/boyfriend is doing the same…..not saying that they are but just think, many people do it so why get mad at him, that’s him and his wife’s problems….none of ours, so who should care? yes you may feel sympathetic or sad for Arnold or his wife but if it does’nt effect YOU personally it should’nt matter, but the whole point of it is the man who played “terminator” cheated on his wife….its all publicity or secrets people….it shouldnt really be a shocker

  25. Baby boomer female says:

    He should have told his WIFE 10 years ago, gotten a new housekeeper. She would have had a hissy fit but would probably have forgiven him. However, by withholding it for all these years AND still having the housekeeper (lover) in his home, that was a HUGE mistake for him. She would have kept her mouth shut and not let voters know. This is not the public’s business. This is strictly a family issue. California would seem to tolerate looser moral issues than MN.