Did Politics Cause Maria Shriver Split?

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One analyst says it may have played a role in the disintegration of her marriage to Arnold Schwarzenegger.

Did politics play a role in the disintegration of Maria Shriver and Arnold Schwarzenegger’s 25-year marriage?

Possibly, says Sherry Bebitch Jeffe, a veteran state political analyst and senior fellow at the University of Southern California.

"I've seen it happen to politicians out of political power — it's awfully hard to adjust, and especially for (Shriver)," she tells USA Today.

Early on, Shriver, a Democrat, opposed Schwarzenegger’s campaign for Republican governor, notes Jeffe.

Ultimately, “she made her peace with it and she became the most powerful first lady of California ever,” she says.

“He gave her a lot of leeway to establish an independent power base, and maybe that was part of the trade-off,” she adds, citing her annual Women’s Conference as an example of how Shriver used her husband’s power to benefit her own causes.

"She had the Kennedy panache and she was a very important adviser to her husband," Jeffe goes on. "There is an argument, and I don't think it's too far wrong, that because she stood so strongly and effectively alongside him after the Los Angeles Times story (about his alleged groping of women in Hollywood) that she may well have helped him enter office without that taint."

Political couples often stay together "because they had a single goal, and now that goal is not only accomplished but they're out of office now," Jeffe tells USA Today. "Both spouses sometimes just step back and step apart, to find out how and where they can be happy out of political power. It doesn't mean the marriage is over. They're just beginning to think about the next phase of life."