In a strikingly candid and emotional new Netflix documentary, Arnold Schwarzenegger reveals the pivotal moment he confessed to his then-wife, Maria Shriver, about fathering a child with their housekeeper. The shocking revelation led to the end of the couple's 25-year marriage, creating a scandal that overshadowed Schwarzenegger's success in both his film career and political life.
Schwarzenegger's Painful Admission
Arnold Schwarzenegger, actor, former California governor, and iconic action hero, revisits the heart-wrenching admission he made in 2011 during a marital therapy session. "Maria and I went to counseling once a week," Schwarzenegger recalls in the docuseries.
"And in one of the sessions, the counselor said, 'I think today Maria wants to be very specific about something. She wants to know if you are the father of Joseph.' I thought my heart stopped, and then I told the truth." The child, Joseph Baena, was born to the family's housekeeper, Mildred Baena.
Initially, Schwarzenegger believed Joseph was Mildred's husband's son. However, as the child grew older, the undeniable similarities became evident, leading to Schwarzenegger's painful acknowledgment of paternity. "'Yes, Maria, Joseph is my son,'" Schwarzenegger remembered telling his shocked wife.
"She was crushed because of that. I had an affair in ’96. In the beginning, I really didn’t know. But as he got older, it became clear to me, and then it was really just a matter of how do you keep this quiet? How do you keep this a secret?"
Living With Regret: "This is a Major Failure"
For Schwarzenegger, his actions precipitated a period of immense regret and self-reflection, ultimately redefining his understanding of personal failure.
"I think that I have caused enough pain for my family because of my up. Everyone had to suffer. Maria had to suffer. The kids had to suffer. Joseph. His mother. Everyone," he confessed. "I am going to have to live with it the rest of my life," Schwarzenegger continued. "People will remember my successes and they will also remember my failures.
This is a major failure. I had failures in the past in my career, but this is a whole different ball game, dimension of failure." Yet, amid this remorse, Schwarzenegger expressed his deep love and admiration for his son Joseph, referring to him as a "fantastic man" who "makes me proud." Despite acknowledging the pain he caused, Schwarzenegger is firm in his refusal to let his mistakes diminish the worth of his son.
"It was wrong what I did. But I don’t want to make Joseph feel that he is not welcomed in this world — because he is very much welcomed in this world," he said. "I love him, and he has turned out to be an extraordinary young man."
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