The internet has been swirling over reports that scorned spouse Maria Shriver is considering reconciling with her estranged husband Arnold Schwarzenegger . For those of you who may be living under a rock, Schwarzenegger fathered a child (who is now 14 years old) with their housekeeper, a woman with whom he carried on an adulterous affair for years. Apparently Maria is having second thoughts about her divorce, as a result of her strongly convicted religious beliefs and because Schwarzenegger is doing his darndest to win back her favor.
Of course, my immediate thought is, could I ever forgive my husband if he fathered a child with our long-time housekeeper and kept said child and affair from me for years? My first impulse is to say, I don't think I could ever look at him in the same way. But in the same breath, he is, and will always be, the father of our children; he is an integral part of their DNA, and will therefore in even a marginal way continue to be a part of my world.
I can't imagine the stress Maria must have faced- especially having to endure her husband's infidelity under the microscope of paparazzi and just the sheer humiliation of having such a tawdry act perpetrated under her very roof for so many years. She also has four children with Schwarzenegger, and for all intents and purposes has played the role of dutiful mother and wife. She took a backset to her husband, so that he could fulfill his political aspirations- and even the way she handled the scandal was done with such dignity and grace.
Had it been me- I think I would have been out for blood. But I also know this- kids are a game changer in every sense of the word. That is to say, decisions you might make without hesitation take on a completely new set of rules, once you factor your kids into the situation. Even a marriage holds a different meaning once you reflect on how your union will impact your kids.
None of us can fathom what lies in the heart of a woman whose husband has desecrated the sanctity of their marriage in the vilest of ways- as in the case with Shriver and Schwarzenegger. It is so easy to judge as someone looking in- to say without hesitation that if you were in Shriver's' shoes- you would never be able to accept your husband back. And you might even say, in doing so– what is the lesson you are imparting to your kids? In taking back a cheating spouse is one teaching their children, that marriage is not something to be revered? That all is fair in love even if that means a spouse has cheated? Does it say to one's kids, that one spouse is allowing the other to blatantly disrespect and disavow them and make a mockery of their union?
At first glance, yes one might think so, especially in light of the gravity of the transgression. But on the flip side, perhaps Shriver's ability to allow her estranged husband back into her life, to reconcile and reaffirm their marital vows, speaks volumes to her kids about the power of forgiveness. The ability to forgive an act so seemingly unredemptive may be a lesson in learning to let go of the past and welcome in a fresh beginning. Perhaps forgiving a spouse for committing adultery imparts to her children that marriage is a complex union that requires one to summon all their resolve and strength at times to keep it together.
What do you think–what lesson, if any, is Maria imparting to her children if she decides to reconcile with their philandering father?