Maria, Arnold, Divorce and Dads

Maria Shriver’s and Arnold Schwarzenegger’s separation has given me two deep thoughts.  One is about business.  The other is as follows:


I wrote a short play several years ago that, on the surface, was about a father and daughter who simply had different world views.  When delving deeper into character development, my playwriting instructor led me to a new discovery:  the woman in the play saw her father for who he really was.


I think my instructor may have been going through some things with his girlfriend at the time, but he lamented how difficult it is for men who enter a woman’s life with long-term romantic intentions to compare, let alone take the place of, the man who has been the woman’s ideal man since she was born.  As he explained, most girls idolize her fathers.  Daddy is a protector and provider.  He’s the first man to dote on her, to spoil her, to tell her she’s beautiful. He is what she looks for in a romantic mate, and if he wasn’t around, she looks for what she imagines the ideal would have been.  Furthermore, when he is around, a boyfriend or husband eventually comes and disrupts the relationship.  The resulting conflict between fathers and daughters, fathers and sons-in-law and husbands and wives is expected.


When I heard in a report on the Today Show that Maria Shriver was unhappy for years but made no decision to leave Arnold Schwarzenegger until after her father died earlier this year, I thought, “Of course.”  Who else would she have to look up to?  Her husband’s term as governor was over, and he had spent part of that term issuing IOUs to his constituents.  And when his term was over, he confessed he hand cheated.  Not much heroics there.  In contrast, I consider that Shriver’s father had been ill for some time, but a girl still has memories.  What man would be her hero once he died?


I don’t know what kind of man Sergeant Shriver was or what Maria Shriver’s life was like growing up.  I write this simply to make the generalization that the father-daughter relationship is complicated, to sympathize with the men dealing with it and to ask anyone reading: What do you think?


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