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How Do You Solve A Problem Like Maria's?

Arnold Schwarzenegger cheated on his wife Maria Shriver, fathered a child outside of their marriage as a result of said cheating, and referred to this mistake in his press release as an "event" that took place over ten years ago.


An event is something that happens and ends. Producing a child outside of your marriage is far more than an "event." When your "event" walks, talks, and attends school, it ain't an "event."

Maria Shriver has joined the Sisterhood of the Philandering Husbands. That club includes presidents' wives, congressmen's wives, and a pretty significant percentage of wives around the world. I wouldn't wish that on any woman. And unlike a mistress, whom you can choose to have nothing to do with after the "event," Arnold had to take it one step further and have a "baby mama." That makes Arnold more than just a father or ex-governor: He's a "baby daddy," as in that janky song, "That's Just My Baby's Daddy." Indeed.

So how do you solve a problem like Maria's -- finding out that your husband not only cheated, but fathered a child who will be a part of his life for the rest of his life?

You don't. Because it's not your problem. It's his.

I had the good fortune to be cheated on by someone I was dating. I say "good fortune" because I didn't marry the schmuck, never even got close. My schmuck even had the temerity to have me and the other woman riding around with him in a car, each of us thinking the other was just a friend. I don't know if I would have ever married him, but I feel blessed that that experience happened to me while I was single. There were no children involved, no property to divide, no career given up. I dropped him with a phone call. It was all he deserved. But I learned a lot, and there's still more to be learned from all this.

First, cheating is the cheater's problem, not yours. Cheaters, especially male cheaters, will sometimes try to blame the women they've cheated on. Unless you cheated on him first, cheating is not your fault. If he was unhappy in the relationship, he needed to be man enough to say so and get out of the relationship in an honest way that respected you and what you both had. If he wasn't unhappy in the relationship and cheated, then he still has a problem with personal responsibility and control. If a man can hold it long enough to pee, he can hold it back long enough to avoid violating his marriage vows. I know men think their penises have a will and a personality all their own. They don't. If you are weaker than your own penis, maybe you shouldn't own one.

Second, no man can make you and, therefore, he can't break you. Everything you brought into the relationship -- your skills, your virtues, your drive, your heart -- was already there inside of you. You are not diminished in any way just because your spouse or significant other has a wandering penis. Always, always remember what you're made of. In Maria's case, she's made of pretty stern stuff. Arnold's actions don't change that. She's going to be just fine. She probably doesn't know it yet, but she will.

Third, your priority at this point is to protect yourself and your children if you have any. In my case, my cheater owed me money. I got the money back, then dropped him. In Maria's case, she needs to make sure her kids are okay and taken care and then take care of herself. A call to a good forensic accountant and divorce attorney might be in order right about now, even if she doesn't divorce the putz. She needs to make sure that her rights and her children's rights are protected. A therapist might not be a bad thing, either. A summer at Hyannisport might be in order.

Fourth, don't second guess yourself and don't beat yourself up for not seeing what was probably obvious to everyone else. Love blinds, and no one thinks they should have to double check and birddog someone they trust, especially if they trusted the person enough to marry him. Cheaters violate that trust, but there's no wrong in having trusted in the first place. But a bought lesson is a learned lesson, and you will become more discerning about trusting down the line. You have to.

Fifth, you can't blame the child created out of all this, so don't mistreat it. What child would choose a cheater as a parent? As hard as it might be, a little compassion for the other child in this situation is in order. As a mom, I'm sure Maria Shriver gets this. Should Arnold decide to be more than a checkbook for this child, his actions should be encouraged for the sake of the child. That doesn't mean you have to live with him and encourage him, but encouragement would not be a bad thing. Again, as a mom, I'm sure Maria gets this.

But trying to change a cheater, especially one that has fathered a child outside of the marriage and lied about it for ten years? That's nobody's problem but the cheater's. Sure, you can take a cheater back, but at the end of the day, only they can change their behavior.

So how do you solve a problem like Maria's? You don't, because you can't.

P.S. I wish Maria Shriver and her children the best. She was, in my opinion, probably the best First Lady the state of California has ever known. I hope she knows it.


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