No Longer On Standby

Times have certainly changed when it comes to a wife's reaction to a husband's very public confessions of adultery

arnold schwarzenegger and maria shriver
(Image credit: Chelsea Lauren/FilmMagic)

Has the era of standing by your man come to an end? Jenny Sanford, former spouse of South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford didn't do it. Neither did Elin when Tiger Wood's bevy of former lovers rose up at once, nor did Elizabeth Edwards when John admitted to his extramarital affair and child. And now Maria Shriver is saying "hasta la vista, baby" to former California Governor, or the Terminator, depending on how you best know him, Arnold Schwarzenegger, after finding out that he fathered a ten-year-old boy with a member of their household staff.

As the Los Angeles Times reported, the former Governor had a child with a woman on their staff in 2001, which is two years before he took the reigns as state governor for those of you that don't keep up on California politics. And yet, there's more. The unnamed staff member worked in the house for twenty years, and retired only this past January, severance package and all. Apparently the child has been financially supported by Schwarzenegger and has hung around their house and played with their kids, making them, unbeknown to most, one big happy family.

Well now it looks like Arnold Schwarzenegger and Shriver have, um, rather different ideas about the next steps for their relationship. He seems to think that reconciliation is likely, while her friends report that she has been unhappy for a long time and that it is O.V.E.R. It wasn't so long ago, only 2009, when Hilda Spitzer was the latest in a long chain of wives who soberly remained by their husbands' sides after their infidelity was revealed. In fact, back in 2003 Shriver, stood by her husband when allegations were made that Schwarzenegger had groped women on movie sets. But now Shriver, like Sanford, Edwards, and Woods, and even celebrities like Sandra Bullock, are saying enough! to cheating husbands. Good on you ladies.

While I don't think infidelity should be an automatic deal-breaker in marriage -- I have shocked a few friends by telling them that I don't think it necessarily would be for me -- I still have the urge to cheer when I see these wives leave their philandering husbands. Not that I don't feel sad about the devastation that divorce brings to the whole family, including the kids. (As a child of divorce, I definitely sympathize). But I am also thrilled to hear that the wife won't have to bear the burden of the further devastation that staying with her cheating husband could definitely bring.

What I am hearing from Shriver, and Sanford and Bullock, is that women no longer need to take the fall for their husbands' indiscretions. These ladies have had enough with the martyr business, and, instead, are doing what is best for themselves.