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When Career Change Spells Divorce

Shriver and Schwarzenegger admit careers also played a role in their split.

Maria Shriver and Arnold Schwarzenegger always had my vote for weirdest couple of all time. I mean, it was an odd match in almost every category. Physically: she, with those razor-sharp cheekbones and giant jaw; he, with those cartoon-like muscles and inimitable accent. Politically: She was a member of the Kennedy dynasty, while he was a republican from Austria. But hey, the couple had been together since 1977 (married since 1986), so obviously, something was working.

Shriver was on my mind a lot after she stepped down from her job as coanchor of multiple NBC News shows when Schwarzenegger made his bid for governor of California. As a writer and journalist, I understood that she was making a gigantic sacrifice. I mean, homegirl had risen to the top of her field, and here she was, walking away from it all to stand by her man. I remember wondering if I'd be willing to do the same, were I in her shoes. But I got distracted imagining what daily life with a Terminator hubby might be like, and…wait, what was the question? Regardless, Shriver seemed to handle the transition with grace and dignity, throwing herself into her advocacy work. But now, years later, as Ahnold attempts to move on from his political career, the couple has publicly called it quits, specifically calling out recent career changes as a contributing factor in addition to, oh, I don’t know -- the love child he kept hidden until he left office. True, The Governator apparently couldn't keep it in his pants, as evidenced by the 10-year-old child he fathered with a household staffer. So maybe the career changes he's facing will be similar to those Tiger Woods recently experienced? (Anyone care to wager on more babies coming out of the woodwork?) But back to my point: “This has been a time of great personal and professional transition for each of us,” read the statement that the couple released to the Los Angeles Times.

Now, get ready readers, here comes a Holly theory (clears throat): I think men might not be quite as awesome at weathering changes as women are. I know. But hear me out. I've seen it a lot: When men experience a sudden loss of power (whether it's from losing a job or retiring), they often act out in ways that negatively affect their marriages (think: cheating, gambling, drinking, high-end sports car buying and/or questionable hairstyles). Whereas the women I know who've been through similar changes still struggle but tend to handle their issues by talking them out. This is in no way a scientific survey. I'm just reporting what I've noted in the behavior of my own friends and family. But I can't help wondering if this is what happened with Schwarzenegger and Shriver. Do you think he might have freaked out over not getting to boss around California anymore and started acting like a fool? There are all sorts of rumors swirling about his philandering ways, so like, maybe? Or does the fact that he cheated and fathered a child long before he left office (even before he became governor, actually) prove that it wasn’t the career change, but the man that was the problem?

-- Holly

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