Maria Shriver Felt Unnoticed In Her Arnold Schwarzenegger Marriage And Took It As A Lesson

Being married to an icon is never easy, but it was even harder for Maria Shriver because her ex-husband, Arnold Schwarzenegger, was not only a famous actor but also a legendary bodybuilder who just so happened to be the governor of California. So, it's only natural that she eventually began to feel more like an accessory than a person. Although Shriver came from the prominent Kennedy family, she began to believe her presence didn't matter. But before the couple was thrust into the public eye, they were two people trying to make it in the world.

Schwarzenegger and Shriver's paths first crossed in 1977 when a mutual friend introduced them at the Robert F. Kennedy Tennis Tournament. Back then, Schwarzenegger was trying to get his big Hollywood break while Shriver was gearing up for a career in journalism. In his documentary, "Arnold," Schwarzenegger recalled some of his first words to Shriver's mother, Eunice Kennedy, after she walked up to him at the event: "Well, your daughter has a really nice ass." 

He continued, "Eunice said, 'Thank you,' and then she walked away, kind of like, 'What the hell.'" However, Shriver seemed to like Schwarzenegger because she invited him to a family gathering the same night. They bonded quickly and started dating. Nine years later, they tied the knot and had four children. But after 25 years of marriage, their divorce was finalized in 2021. And Shriver was never the same after the divorce because she took away some valuable lessons.

Maria Shriver discovered herself through the divorce

During an appearance on "Making Space with Hoda Kotb," Maria Shriver described how people's lack of recognition for her as an individual made her feel. "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," she continued. "And then I [realized] they were teaching me a lesson that it's not about whether they see me, Do I see me? Am I visible to me?" 

Although her marriage heightened these feelings of invisibility, they had been with her throughout her life as someone perpetually surrounded by prominent personalities. But after her divorce, she learned she could finally let go of old ties and discover who she was, independent of her ex-husband. In order to do that, she had to get away from her regular circumstances, so she went to a secluded covenant, where the Reverend Mother told her some life-changing words. 

Shriver shared these words with Kotb: "You can't come live here, but you do have permission to go out and become Maria." This felt scarily accurate for Shriver because she admitted that she didn't know who Maria was. As Shriver left the place, she understood that she couldn't be herself unless she allowed herself to accept her emotions. So, she tore down the protective walls she had built to protect herself and permitted herself to feel to her heart's content.

Maria Shriver goes out of her way to make people feel seen

Maria Shriver shared with Kotb that she felt like everybody struggled with feeling like their presence didn't matter. Now, whenever she notices somebody feeling left out, she reassures them of their importance by just having a conversation with them. Shriver said, "The antidote to [these feelings of invisibility], is to just talk to somebody. It's to look someone in the eye, get off your phone, to connect with someone, 'cause that's what makes people feel seen." 

She added that she initially believed fame and accolades made people feel like they mattered, but her perspective changed when she realized that human connection was far more important. But as we all know, you can't pour out of an empty cup, so Shriver also started the journey to heal her relationship with herself. She began reaffirming herself about her worth instead of seeking external validation. 

But these low self-esteem feelings wouldn't go away quickly because they'd been a part of her for so long. Shriver told Kotb that even when she invited her son over for dinner, she had to ask him if she should call somebody else over to make him feel secure because she didn't feel he'd want to hang out with her alone. But he reassured her that he wanted to spend quality time with her. However, she continues to actively fight these feelings by reminding herself she's enough.