Arnold and Maria: Can couples reconcile after affairs?

Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger/ wikipedia

SAN DIEGO, July 19, 2013 – It’s been four years since Arnold Schwarzenegger admitted he had a “love child” whose mother was the family housekeeper, and that he had kept their affair a secret for 10 years.

It seemed to be the last straw in Schwarzenegger’s marriage to Maria Shriver. Shortly after the news came out in 2011, Shriver filed for divorce.

Nearly two years later, the pair aren’t yet divorced. They don’t seem to be moving any closer in that direction. Rumors continue to circulate that Arnold and Maria are getting back together.

TMZ reports that although the couple has reached agreement on financial issues and custody arrangements for their remaining minor children, they seem to have no sense of urgency about making their divorce final. Is is possible the pair might not divorce at all?

Over the past few months, Arnold and Maria have been seen together several times, recently at Georgetown University at their daughter Christina’s graduation with all four of their children. A family portrait posted to Facebook instantly made the rounds of the tabloids. Everyone looked happy to be together.

Whatever problems Arnold and Maria may have, they have done right by their children. They have presented a united, supportive front, attending events together and never airing their differences in public.

Schwarzenegger published a memoir in October 2012 and made the rounds of the network TV interview shows including “60 Minutes,” in which he admitted to plenty of bad behavior, most of which everyone had heard about by then. Months earlier, I advised Arnold and Maria to be sure their divorce was final before publication of the book for the sake of their family.

But here we are in July 2013. Schwarzenegger made the rounds at Comic Con Thursday and was mobbed by fans. Sans Maria. Meanwhile, everyone’s still asking whether or not Arnold and Maria might reconcile. People close to them believe the two are having second thoughts. At different times, Arnold and Maria offer different thoughts about the possibility of a future together, or not.

Is it possible for a couple like Arnold Schwarzenegger and Maria Shriver to reconcile? Should they consider keeping their marriage together? What are the odds it will work out in the long run?

Statistics on divorce and infidelity aren’t always easy to find. The website claims the most recent report on marriage in the U.S. from 2009 found that almost 87% of separated couples proceed to obtain a divorce. The remaining 13% reunite after separation – a little more than one in ten. Are Arnold and Maria in the 13% figure?

When a marriage is good in many respects, it’s not surprising a couple might consider salvaging it once the pain and shock of learning about adultery and the existence of a child from that relationship start to subside a little.  But when a marriage turns out to be based on lies, it is almost always doomed. If one spouse commits adultery, it is the lying and deception involved that destroys the marriage. As they say, the cover-up can be worse than the crime.

Based on years of experience watching couples struggle with the decision to get divorced, many go back and forth between wanting to reconcile and wanting to hire a divorce lawyer. It’s normal to have a period of indecisiveness. Divorce is a life-changing event. The decisions any couple makes will affect the rest of their lives, and the lives of their family, particularly their children whether they are adults or minors.

The key in a situation like Arnold and Maria’s is whether a couple can truly “forgive and forget.” Easier said than done, especially if news media and gossip websites keep bringing it up over and over again. Especially if one spouse (Arnold) has written a memoir telling all. Ouch.

For this to work Maria can’t bring up the infidelity when she’s mad at Arnold. She can’t stew over it in private thoughts. She would truly have to let it go. Counseling would be essential, someone who’s worked with couples just like them who are struggling with this situation. Perhaps this is already going on. If so, good for Arnold and Maria and their therapist for keeping it under wraps (so far).

Let me express my doubts here about whether this marriage can be saved. The fallout in this marriage has been severe. Not only did Shriver discover her husband of 25 years had been unfaithful to her, she discovered he had hidden this fact for 10 out of the 25 years of their marriage, and he had help doing so. This is 40 percent of the time they have been a married couple; 40 percent of their very public married life together has been an outright lie. The whole world knows about it, and keeps talking about it.

There is a potential sticking point to any planned reconciliation. Schwarzenegger is rumored to have a new girlfriend according to the usual Hollywood gossips. Given that an adulterous relationship triggered the separation in the first place, it would be smart if Maria had second thoughts.

Myra Chack Fleischer serves as Lead Counsel for Fleischer & Ravreby in Carlsbad, California with a focus on divorce, property, custody and support, settlement agreements, mediation, asset division and family law appeals. Read more Legally Speaking in Communities Digital News. Follow Myra on Twitter: @LawyerMyra.

Copyright © 2013 by Fleischer & Ravreby, Attorneys at Law

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