Maria Shriver Says She Felt 'Invisible' When 'Standing Next to' Arnold Schwarzenegger During Marriage
Rodin Eckenroth/Getty; Alex Bona/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Maria Shriver; Arnold Schwarzenegger
Maria Shriver is opening up about times she felt "invisible" during her 25-year marriage to Arnold Schwarzenegger.
"I would find myself getting angry at people who came up and didn't acknowledge that I existed when I was standing next to Arnold, or when I was standing next to my uncle or somebody," the journalist, 67, said on the Making Space with Hoda Kotb podcast's Monday episode.
"And then I [realized] they were teaching me a lesson that it's not about whether they see me," added Shriver, who is also famously a member of the Kennedy family. "Do I see me? Am I visible to me?"
Shriver and the Terminator star, 75, first met in August 1977 at the Robert F. Kennedy Tennis Tournament after being introduced by NBC's Tom Brokaw.
The former couple married in 1986 and had four children: daughters Katherine Schwarzenegger Pratt, 33, and Christina Schwarzenegger, 31, plus sons Patrick Schwarzenegger, 29, and Christopher Schwarzenegger, 25.
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Emma McIntyre/Getty Images Christina Schwarzenegger, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Patrick Schwarzenegger, Maria Shriver and Katherine Schwarzenegger in 2017
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Shriver filed for divorce in July 2011 after 25 years of marriage. Two months before the filing, Schwarzenegger publicly admitted he had fathered another son — Joseph Baena, 25 — with the family's longtime housekeeper Mildred Baena. The former couple's divorce was finalized in December 2021.
Schwarzenegger and Shriver have remained unified as a family since their breakup. In September 2022, they posed with son Patrick at a dinner in a photo shared to his Instagram, in honor of his 29th birthday.
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On Monday's podcast episode, Shriver told host Hoda Kotb that she began feeling like she "had the freedom or permission" to be herself when she filed for divorce from Schwarzenegger.
"I first felt like, 'Oh I'd better go and figure out like, what is the truth?' " she said. "I did so many things, but one of the things I did is I went to a convent, a cloistered convent, to be in silence and look for advice."
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The journalist and author went on to share that the convent's Reverend Mother gave her permission "to go out and become Maria" during her visit — something she said she's never revealed before.
"The Reverend Mother there said to me at the very end — and I actually have written about this, but I haven't shared — she said, 'I think you came here looking for permission,' " Shriver told Kotb, 58.
"I felt like I was in a scene out of The Sound of Music," she continued. "She says, 'You can't come live here, but you do have permission to go out and become Maria.' I was like, sobbing. I was like, 'Who is that?' "
"I think the word 'permission' … 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," Shriver added of the experience. "And then I was like, 'Okay, God, let's go. I'm gonna take this and learn everything I can about my role and what I need to learn.' "