By America’s #1 Love and Marriage Experts.

Hard to imagine. People seemingly happily married for 25 years suddenly and surprisingly seek divorce. At 25+ years, divorce is, in the scheme of things, very unusual. Twenty-five years is a very long time for humans! It comprises about a third of the normal human life.

So, how does this happen? Or more succinctly, why is Maria Shriver considering filing for divorce from Arnold Schwarzenegger? Well, it’s really not all that complicated.

Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger had humble beginnings. He migrated to the USA from Austria and became a body builder – a world-class body builder! He became famous because of it.

His body building career led to a movie career. He ended up starring in the Terminator and many similar movies. Arnold became an international star. He became one of the most famous actors on the planet!

And what about Maria? She is the daughter of Sargent Shriver (actually Robert Sargent Shriver, but he was known around the world as Sargent Shriver). Among his many accomplishments as a statesmen and activist, he was the founder of the Peace Corp.

Maria Shriver is the niece of the late president John F. Kennedy. That makes her part of one of the most famous families in America! The Kennedys are American icons.

So, here you have it – a common man who immigrated to the USA from Austria becomes Mr. Universe. He uses that fame to become a world-renowned actor. He becomes famous. He marries into one of the most famous American families – the Kennedys!

Arnold Schwarzenegger and Maria Shriver became one on April 26, 1986 – 25 years ago. The question of the day in the USA and around the world is this – why did Arnold create a “Love Child” some 13 years ago while married to the beautiful Maria? Why was young Christopher born to a housekeeper in the Schwarzenegger’s household? That is the question of the day.

Moreover, why would Arnold Schwarzenegger, the former Governor of California, who is married to a woman who is a member of one of the most famous families in America – the Kennedy’s – “cheat” on his wife and engage in a betrayal of the highest order? Why would someone of his stature cheat on his wife? Why would the Governor engage in the highest form of infidelity? And how could he hide his secret for 13 years?

While these are the questions on everyone’s mind and the answers the media are desperately seeking, these questions and answers are not what is really important in this story. The answers to these questions will only satisfy some level of curiosity, but the details of the affair and reasons behind their actions will not get at the heart of the real issue—the damage caused by infidelity.

Make no mistake about it, cheating on your spouse is an unpardonable act. Expecting forgiveness is usually not in the cards.

We have studied successful marriage for nearly three decades in 45 countries and on six continents (we are heading to the 7th continent, Antarctica, in January of 2012). We have learned a lot about what makes marriage work. And the truth is, infidelity is rarely ever a recoverable act. Here is what we mean.

The simple truth is this – Arnold Schwarzenegger and his housekeeper (she is NOT by our way of thinking exempt from criticism for this act!) committed an act that would not be tolerated in 99.9% of American households.

Committing adultery – a clear violation of religious principles as well as moral principles – is, in most circles, an unforgivable act.

Arnold and his mistress, Patty Baena, reportedly a former member of the household staff of Arnold and Maria, engaged in the ultimate act of betrayal when it comes to the vows of marriage. Why people engage in such egregious acts bewilders us, and we have been researching this stuff for nearly three decades!

But this we know -- Don’t be fooled and don’t be foolish. Relationships that are the victim of betrayal, infidelity, and disloyalty almost always end in failure. Those who have been successfully married for years and years know this to be true. Don’t be misled by those who suggest otherwise.

Maria Shriver has hired a top-notch lawyer to handle her possible divorce from Arnold. It will most certainly be nasty. But in the end, it is the children of this marriage (as well as the so-called “love child”) who will be harmed the most by this sordid affair.

Adults sometimes act without thinking about the consequences, because in the end, infidelity always hurts the children the most. Arnold and Patty together engaged in an act of betrayal. Neither of them can be excused for their behaviors. Infidelity destroys. Infidelity destroys trust, love, marriages and families.

And to those "doubting Thomas's" who believe that cheating on your spouse -- engaging in acts of infidelity with the one you purport to love more than life itself -- doesn't matter, well, we have several questions for you.

Do you have someone in your life that you trust completely and unequivocally? Do you have a friend who trusts you back just the same? Is there someone in your life that you would lay down your life for? Is there someone in your life that would do the same for you?

If you answered yes to one or more of these questions, then ask yourself this one final question -- if either my trustworthy friend or I violated the aforementioned trust before us, would I still say that infidelity is okay? If you say "yes" then you are a person without principle -- a person someone else cannot trust. Tell us infidelity doesn't matter!

The ultimate betrayal of the one you say you love is almost always an unrecoverable act! Writers, therapists, counselors, and psychologists who suggest otherwise are not only fooling themselves, they are misleading those they purport to represent.

And a postscript – we are keenly aware that, for whatever reason or reasons, some couples simply fall out of love over time. It happens. Sometimes, going your separate ways is a good thing, particularly if you have tried your best to work out those issues that divide you.

Confront those challenges that are eroding the quality of your marriage. Talk it out. Read a good book about what makes marriage work. See a marriage counselor. Try your best to save your marriage.

However, if all of your actions are to no avail, then go your separate ways, but do so honestly. Engaging in infidelity is not the way you should deal with falling out of love. Infidelity will not fix your marriage, it will only make matters worse. Cheating your way out of a failing marriage spreads out the hurt to so many others and never, we repeat never, saves a failing relationship.

In love and marriage the simple things matter. Love well!

By Dr. Charles D. Schmitz and Dr. Elizabeth A. Schmitz

For hundreds of tips to enhance your relationship get the Doctor’s best-selling and multiple-award winning book Building a Love that Lasts: The Seven Surprising Secrets of Successful Marriage (Jossey-Bass/Wiley 2010) Available wherever books are sold.
Winner of the INDIE Book Awards GOLD Medal for Best Relationship Book
Winner of the Mom’s Choice Awards GOLD Medal for Most Outstanding Relationships and Marriage Book
Nautilus Book Awards Winner for Relationships

Author's Bio: 

As America’s #1 Love and Marriage Experts and award-winning authors, Drs. Charles and Elizabeth Schmitz help international audiences answer questions about love, marriage and relationships. With 28 years of research on love and successful marriage across six continents of the world and their own 44-year marriage, the Doctors know what makes relationships work.

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