By Catherine Gaugh, San Gabriel Valley Tribune
When a man has secrets, he lies.
As the book “Total Recall: My Unbelievably True Life Story” reveals, actor and former California governor Arnold Schwarzenegger has told some whoppers over the years.
Take, for example, his attempt in 1997 to hide a planned open heart surgery from the public and his then-pregnant wife Maria Shriver. He described the fallout from that one in detail to “60 Minutes” Lesley Stahl.
On a whirlwind book tour following the book’s release Monday, Schwarzenegger revealed several other affairs including liaisons with actress Brigitte Nielsen and the Schwarzenegger family housekeeper.
Author and Canadian reality TV host Sarah J. Symonds said she was not surprised by the revelations of Schwarzenegger’s lifetime of secrets and lies.
“I tell women all the time to never fall in love with a man who is in love with himself,” said Symonds, an ex-mistress of a celebrity who answers questions about cheating on her web blog, pillowtalkwithsarahsymonds.com.
“The film industry is rampant with men like that, men with such large egos, they believe they are untouchable,” said Symonds, author of the e-book “Having an Affair? A Handbook for the `Other Woman”‘ and host of a new Canadian TV show about infidelity called “The Mistress”.
“Living a lie becomes the norm,” she said.
Wanting to control an image can make sense, whether it’s for Hollywood or an election campaign. But to keep secrets from the spouse can tear the fabric of even the best marriages because a strong relationship depends on truth and trust.
And a little thing called respect. Which apparently our former governor did not have for his wife and children when he kept his sexual liaison with the family housekeeper a secret, even when he realized her son, by age 5 or 6, “was starting to look like me,” he said. Maria Shriver noticed it, too. And when she asked him if he was the father, he denied it. Later, during a marriage counseling session, he admitted it.
Shriver moved out out a few months later and filed for divorce.
Philandering is one thing. A life built on a foundation of lies is another. And when the truth is revealed, we are shocked and saddened. Remember how terrible we felt when we heard the messages golf champion Tiger Woods left on one woman’s cell phone?
There is an abundance of secrets and lies in politics, too. When former presidential candidate John Edwards denied having a child with his mistress Rielle Hunter, and allowed a campaign worker to take the blame, he “was so very cowardly,” Symonds said. “He couldn’t just say, `I messed up, I take responsibility.’
“These are intelligent men running for office, at least you would think so, but when John Edwards went on TV, he lied and he knew he was lying.”
Schwarzenegger’s attempt to keep his open heart surgery a secret from his wife “made me wonder how stupid he thought Maria Shriver was that she would not notice,” especially the scarring that accompanies such surgery, Symonds said.
But Shriver might have known more than she has let on, Symonds added.
“Either that or she is not the smartest button in the box.”
Schwarzenegger “needed to find a `perfect victim’, a woman he could manipulate and lie to. He found that woman in Maria,” Symonds said. “He also found a woman who would help elevate his status in life, so he used her and her name to help open (movie) doors, for sure, a bit like Ashton Kutcher did with poor Demi Moore.
“I’d say Maria was never enough for him and he had many women on the side, some we don’t even know about yet.
“But, when a man sets out to lie to you, and lie so hard and so well, it is shocking what you will believe.”
In the “60 Minutes” interview on Sunday, “he said that he got used to living in denial,” Symonds said. “Well, she surely did, too.”
The fact that Schwarzenegger did not tell his wife about his intention to run for governor of California until a few days before he planned to announce it also demonstrated a lack of respect for and interest in Shriver’s feelings about it.
“I thought she would say, `welcome to the club’ of becoming a public servant,” he told Stahl.
That, as we have learned, was not how she felt. But she took advice from her mother, who told her to go along with it and give him support, or else he would be angry for the rest of his life. Shriver gave up her career as a TV newswoman to go on the campaign trail for her husband. All of that just makes Schwarzenegger’s betrayals more painful.
Shriver could have used some of Symonds’ advice.
“If things don’t stack up, check it out,” Symonds said. “So many women go into denial, they don’t want to believe their boyfriend or their husband is cheating on them.
“But women have great gut instincts and should pay attention to them.”
The habit of telling lies can spread from a personal life into the workplace, and even – no surprise – in election campaigns.
So how can we tell if our politicians are lying?
“I’d say you need to take everything a politician says with a pinch of salt,” she said. “Sadly, if there is anything at all, it will all come out too late.
“For example (presidential candidate Mitt) Romney seems to be squeaky clean, and he talks a lot about his family values, but how do we know that it is all true?”
Scandal can ruin political careers, or at least, temporarily stain them.
Will Schwarzenegger’s film career suffer from these revelations of his odd behavior?
Not a bit, said entertainment writer Sandra Siepak, who shares hosting duties on “Every Way Woman,” a weekly women’s issues show on Pasadena’s cable TV.
“He has had a lot of pull for a very long time, so he is not going to be hurting in Hollywood,” she said, adding that she was also shocked by the pattern of lies.
“I interviewed him many years ago, and he was extremely kind,” Siepak said. “I had a lot of good things to say about him. I liked him a lot.”