Arnold and Maria: Their Surprising Split

After 25 years as the ultimate power couple, Maria Shriver and Arnold Schwarzenegger part ways and resume their separate careers


It is so stressful to not know what you are doing next,” said Maria Shriver in a video she posted for her followers on YouTube March 28. “Tell me some things that you wish you would have known before you transitioned. Maybe it would help me.” Viewers likely understood this as a call for career advice. In January she had ended seven years as First Lady of California. What next? Back to broadcasting? Ramp up her charity activities for Alzheimer’s support and women’s issues?

But an even bigger change was in the works. Less than a month after their 25th anniversary on April 26, Shriver, 55, and husband, former California governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, 63, announced they were separating. “This has been a time of great personal and professional transition for each of us,” they said in a joint statement released May 9. “After a great deal of thought, reflection, discussion and prayer, we came to this decision together. At this time we are living apart, while we work on the future of our relationship.”

The split seems to come at a turning point for Shriver, who in the past two years lost her mother and father, Eunice and Sargent Shriver, as well as her beloved uncle Teddy Kennedy. “It has been a time of tragedies, of loss, of change,” says a friend. Meanwhile, a source close to Schwarzenegger, who is living in Los Angeles, says that the recent separation “is obviously very hard for him. He loves her dearly. They are working on this together.”

Their relationship defied expectations at its onset-a Democratic Kennedy-dynasty sweetheart and a Republican Austrian bodybuilder turned action star. But those who know them say that dichotomy was superficial. “They got married out of love. If you get past the surface differences, it worked,” says a source close to the couple. “They are both amazing parents, both into healthy lifestyles, both into talking about social issues and both curious about everything. They challenged each other a lot.”

The two were especially united in teaching their kids (Katherine, 21; Christina, 19; Patrick, 17; and Christopher, 13) to listen to differing viewpoints-lessons that went a long way in explaining the competing Obama and McCain campaign signs in the family yard during the 2008 election.

Shriver, who had balanced motherhood and work as an NBC News correspondent, let her career take a backseat to follow her husband into the governor’s seat in 2003. Some even credit her with his victory because she stood by him through allegations that he had groped several women over a 30-year period on movie sets and at gymnasiums. Schwarzenegger apologized for behaving “badly” but no charges were filed, and he said many of the allegations were “not true.” Friends guess the split may have to do with lives diverging. Schwarzenegger is returning to the movies. He’s developing a “Governator” comic book and TV series and may reprise his Terminator role. But Shriver, say friends, will contemplate her next move carefully. “She wants to make an impact. Look how she grew up: They were pushed to excel,” says a source. Adds a friend: “I have no doubt about Maria. She will have another act.”

Updated by Elizabeth Leonard
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