Arnold, Ashton, and Tiger: Is There Hope for Marriage After Infidelity?

Rumors have been swirling this week that former California governor Arnold Schwarzenegger and Maria Shriver are headed for reconciliation after a public affair and possible divorce.

Both have been spotted with what appears to be their wedding rings and reportedly spent the holidays with their four children.

In 2011, Maria Shriver filed for divorce after Schwarzenegger publicly confessed to having an extramarital affair with the family’s housekeeper of 20 years and fathering a son by her.

Most recently, actress Demi Moore filed for divorce from her husband Actor Ashton Kutcher for similar reasons.

“It is with great sadness and a heavy heart that I have decided to end my six-year marriage to Ashton. As a woman, a mother and a wife there are certain values and vows that I hold sacred, and it is in this spirit that I have chosen to move forward with my life,” she said in a statement to The Associated Press amidst accusations of her husband’s infidelity.

“This is a trying time for me and my family, and so I would ask for the same compassion and privacy that you would give to anyone going through a similar situation,” she added.

In his latest book, former Saxophonist of the Doo-Wop group The Diamonds and certified Advanced Imago Relationship Therapist John Wagner explains why the “once a cheater, always a cheater” affirmation is not always correct.

In Wagner’s “Rebuilding Broken Bridges (For Couples),” he candidly explains how his own indiscretion led to his subsequent divorce, research into Imago therapy, remarriage, and entering graduate school for a relationship therapist certification at 47.

In an interview with The Christian Post, Wagner says he and his wife, Susan, went to a therapist after she discovered he was having an affair. Dissatisfied with their treatment, Wagner said they decided to end the therapy and “sweep it under the rug,” and the couple divorced.

Eventually, they had a long conversation about possible reconciliation. All the while, Wagner had been researching Imago therapy believing it could help his marriage. After a year and a half of being divorced, the couple remarried and now happily celebrates two anniversaries.

By broadcasting his affair, Wagner says he is not trying to glorify what he did but use his experience to show that healing is possible.

 “I am not trying to glorify my sin, but give hope that you can sin and there is still hope [for your marriage].”

Wagner believes that his faith saw him through rough times, but it was his research into Imago Therapy that healed his marriage.

“Most of the Christian books talk about enrichment, but don’t say how to deal with the shame. Sometimes scriptures are the tools that shame us,” Wagner said.

Imago Therapy addresses the images of shame we are given as children that shape our actions and teach us how to work through them. Couples learn to address the shame of an infidelity instead of just being told to change. He said in Imago therapy, couples act as their own therapists

In regards to the case of Arnold and Maria, Wagner says if the reports have any merit, anything is possible.

“The divorce was the best thing that ever happened to me. If someone like me can change, anyone can change,” he said through laughter. “And having God in your life opens the opportunity for that to happen.”

Interestingly, Wagner holds that no couple really wants to end a marriage, they just want to bring about an end to the pain.

“No one really wants to go through the emotional, financial stress of a divorce,” Wagner said. “In Ms. Shriver’s case, she had a knee jerk reaction and left.”

Wagner says lots of couples he treats have knee jerk reactions and divorce, but don’t realize that couples who decide to work on their first marriage are more successful.

“Everyone knows the statistic for first marriages having a 50 percent divorce rate but second marriages have a 65 percent divorce rate and third marriages have a 75 percent divorce rate,” said Wagner.

In an interview with “Harper’s Bizarre,” Demi Moore said what she fears most is that she will “ultimately find out at the end of my life that I'm really not lovable, that I'm not worthy of being loved. That there's something fundamentally wrong with me ... and that I wasn't wanted here in the first place.”

That sentiment is not uncommon and is linked with our very biology, says Wagner. In the case of infidelity, a woman’s feelings of deprivation and isolation will be triggered, while a man will resort to isolation.

In many instances, Wagner has treated couples where there are repeated infidelities and sex addiction- such as the case of Tiger Woods and Elin Nordegren.

“The case of Arnold [Schwarzenegger] was different,” he explained. “In the case of Tiger Woods there is a sex addiction. Like any other addiction, sex is the drug of choice.”

 From his own experience, Wagner says that this can happen because no matter what someone may have, such as money and fame, it is possible to still not be happy with oneself.

Couples must wait until the dust settles and go on that “journey of forgiveness,” as he calls it. “It is a journey, not an event.”

Wagner believes the worst thing to do is to become bitter. Anger is acceptable, but not bitterness in order to allow for healing.

Today, John Wagner, and his wife Susan are both in their sixties, have three children, nine grandchildren, and are like “two lovebirds.” They attend an Assembly of God Church in Orlando, Florida. They have appeared on several Christian television and radio shows sharing their story of healing.

A copy of the book can be published at