As Maria Shriver stepped on-stage to address the audience at the Brentwood School’s Young Women’s Conference in LA, the theme of “it’s our turn” was no doubt going through her mind. And the slogan couldn’t have been more apt.
She opened up about getting through tough times, like “leaving a bad relationship,” and those present couldn’t help but think that after standing by husband Arnold Schwarzenegger’s side for decades, Maria is finally living life on her own terms.
Nearly three years after her split from Arnold, it’s clear that the 58-year-old has grown and her darkest days are behind her. So why hasn’t she finalized the divorce she filed for in July 2011?
Even as the months tick by – and Arnold, 66, continues to step out with his girlfriend, Heather Milligan, 38, as he did recently in his native Austria – Maria seems to be in no rush to push for divorce.
She tells Closer, “There’s no right way to get through anything and there’s no wrong way; there’s your process.”
Arnold with girlfriend Heather Milligan
For Maria, that process involves her family first and foremost. As she said at the conference, “I think that being a mother is the toughest thing, and a father, the toughest thing that any of us will do.”
And both she and Arnold are making their children – Katherine, 24, Christina, 22, Patrick, 20, and Christopher, 16 – a priority, putting aside their differences to attend graduations and family dinners together.
Their kids are giving them room to heal in their own time. “Both my parents are going to do what they want to do,” Katherine tells Closer. “So whatever is meant to happen will happen.”
Maria with daughters Christina & Katherine
What’s not likely to happen, however, is a reconciliation. Insiders say that Maria’s confidants, including Oprah Winfrey, are supporting her as she mulls over her next moves, but a source close to Maria says they “won’t let her soften her stance” and take her husband back.
Of course, divorce is complicated, and Maria is also relying on her faith to help get her through. Kennedy family expert Matthew Wilson notes to Closer that her beliefs may be holding her back from making the divorce official.
“From what I know, her family preference would be that she get an annulment from the church first,” he says. “Then she would be free to do what she wished.”
As a role model, it’s also about what she’s learned can help others. At the conference, Maria told the crowd of young women how she plans to keep moving forward.
“Your marriage breaking up…these things can happen,” she said. “You can get through them with grace, with style. You can keep your eye on the light and keep walking in that direction.”
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