Maria Shriver Reveals How a Therapist Helped Her Get Through Her Divorce From Arnold Schwarzenegger and Stay Friends With Him

Any breakup, especially after a long relationship, leaves permanent scars on our souls. We can keep paying attention to them and keep picking at old wounds, or we can treat this painful period of our lives as a lesson and the start of a new phase. The latter is exactly what Maria Shriver did. After her divorce from Arnold Schwarzenegger, she was able to maintain the strong family they had built and rise above past disagreements and resentments.

Maria and Arnold divorced after 25 years of marriage

Arnold Schwarzenegger and Maria Shriver met in 1977 at a charity tennis tournament held at her mother’s house. At the time, he was a renowned athlete and bodybuilder, and she was an aspiring journalist. On April 26th, 1986, Arnold and Maria got married and for many years were considered one of America’s brightest couples. During their marriage, the Schwarzeneggers had four children: two boys and two girls. But on May 9th, 2011, unexpectedly for many of the couple’s fans, they announced that they were breaking up after 25 years of marriage.

After the divorce, Maria took a break to get some peace and quiet

Gaz Shirley, NEWS

It wasn’t easy for Maria to rebuild her life after years of being a wife and mother. But by filing for divorce, she suddenly felt empowered to be herself. To find honest answers to questions about her future life and plans, Maria took a break and went out of town.

“I had never given myself permission to feel, to be vulnerable, to be weak, to be brought to my knees, and the world did it to me. And then I was like, ’Okay, let’s go. I’m gonna take this and learn everything I can about my role and what I need to learn.’”

She put effort into overcoming differences with her ex for the sake of their kids

Although the love between Maria and Arnold had faded, they still had a strong bond. The couple had two daughters, Katherine and Christina, and two sons, Christopher and Patrick. Their kids became the foundation on which the former lovers began to build a new, amicable relationship. Of course, after much resentment and disappointment, it was difficult for the couple to connect. But concern for the children’s wellbeing, and the desire for the divorce to not leave wounds in their hearts, united them and allowed them to overcome their grudges against each other.

«After a great deal of thought, reflection and discussion, we came to this decision together. At this time, we are living apart while we work on the future of our relationship. We are continuing to parent our four children together.»

Likely, it wasn’t just the time she took that helped Maria get over her divorce, but also Arnold’s sincere acknowledgement of the mistakes he made during their marriage. Schwarzenegger repeatedly asked Maria for forgiveness and understood her disappointment. He didn’t try to make excuses, make light of the situation, or pretend that he’d never been in the wrong. Instead, Arnold took full responsibility for the breakup of their marriage and did his best to make sure Maria and the kids would feel comfortable.

«And I can beat myself up as much as I want — it’s not gonna change the situation. So the key thing is, how do you move forward? How do you have a great relationship with your kids? You can’t go back — if I could, in reality, be Terminator, of course I would go back in time and would say, ’Arnold... no’. You know, it’s always easy to be smart in hindsight. That’s not the way it works.»

Maria needed therapy to help her feel like herself again

Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP/East News

Maria confessed that after her divorce she felt very lonely, especially after her youngest child left home to go to college. To avoid being alone, she often invited guests, but “being alone for just one minute felt like I had always been alone and was doomed to be alone on this earth forever.” To help her cope with these feelings, Maria turned to a psychologist. He helped her regain her composure and pave the way for a future in which she valued herself outside of relationships.

«I do admire people who work at their marriages, but I also admire those who chart a new way forward. And I really admire those who manage to stay friends after their marriages are over — and aren’t afraid to try love again after being hurt.»

Arnold and Maria are still a family and now even have grandkids

The starting points for Maria and Arnold’s family to reunite were important dates and events. At first, the parents got together for children’s birthdays or to congratulate their son Patrick, and later Christopher, on their college graduation. But soon, once the ice finally melted, the former spouses were seen together celebrating Father’s Day, and later Maria even went to one of Arnold’s birthday parties.

Soon enough, an event occurred which bound the former spouses together in even stronger family ties. In August 2020, their eldest daughter, Katherine, gave them their first granddaughter, Lyla Maria, and in May 2022, she had her second child, Eloise Christina. Just like that, Arnold and Maria entered a new phase of their relationship and became happy grandparents. Years earlier, despite their past misunderstandings, the pair had managed to overcome all obstacles by focusing on their children. And now, having finally put all the hurts behind them, they give love to their grandchildren without a backward glance.

Preview photo credit Gaz Shirley, NEWS, katherineschwarzenegger / Instagram
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