- Associated Press - Tuesday, May 10, 2011

LOS ANGELES (AP) - At times, the marriage of Arnold Schwarzenegger and Maria Shriver looked like a fairy tale come true. But the public record is replete with problems that would strain any union, and recent glimpses into their lives suggested something amiss with a couple who often waxed publicly about their love for one another.

Since his term as California governor ended in early January, Schwarzenegger has hopscotched around the world, his wife nowhere in sight. Shriver posted three Twitter updates on April 26, their 25th wedding anniversary, without mentioning the milestone.

On Monday, they announced they were separating. “After a great deal of thought, reflection, discussion, and prayer, we came to this decision together,” they said in a brief statement that could signal a private breakup rather than a public court battle.

If Schwarzenegger, 63, appeared confident about the future since exiting politics, cutting movie deals and fashioning himself as a global spokesman for green energy, Shriver, 55, known for her confidence, seemed unsettled.

Shriver appears without a wedding ring in videos posted recently on YouTube and talks about stress in her life, the weight of expectations and the search for faith in a troubled world.

“It is so stressful to not know what you’re doing next,” she says grimly in one online video posted in March.

Schwarzenegger has a temper and a biting wit, and there were occasional spats behind the scenes in their Sacramento days, but the marriage unspooled with a minimum of public drama. Shriver moved quietly out of the couple’s gated estate a few miles from the Pacific Ocean, but they remain on speaking terms and had brunch with their children on Mother’s Day.

In their statement, they said they would live apart, “work on the future of our relationship” and continue to parent their four children _ Katherine, 21, Christina, 19, Patrick, 17, and Christopher, 13. The only word from the family Tuesday came in a tweet from Patrick: “Small speed bump … luckily we own (H)ummers, we will cruise right over it. All will be okay.”

The announcement came just over 25 years after the couple wed on a spring day on Cape Cod. They seemed to have little in common aside from celebrity and a hunger for success: a Republican bodybuilder-actor with a history of womanizing, and a princess of the Kennedy clan who was a rising network newscaster.

Shriver, who lost two uncles to assassins’ bullets, never wanted her husband to enter politics, but supported him when he did. After Schwarzenegger won a second term In 2006, they kissed on stage at a celebration rally as a blizzard of balloons fell around them and their children.

They entered their marriage with separate fortunes and legacies, and the script for whether and how they end that union largely depends on decisions they’ve already made.

They said in their statement they have not filed formal court papers. It is unknown whether the pair have any agreement that would divide up their assets, which include their secluded estate in Los Angeles and a home near the coast in Malibu.

Economic disclosure forms filed when Schwarzenegger left as California governor in January show he has interests in at least eight entities worth $1 million or more. An exact tally of his wealth is impossible to calculate, although the forms show the “Terminator” star still retains rights to intellectual property from his days as a fitness guru and movie star.

Shriver’s holdings are more modest, but are listed in the disclosure as being worth more than $1 million. She is a member of the Kennedy family and is a beneficiary of some of its assets, and also owns rights and royalties from her work as an author, the filings show.

Shriver maintained her own identity when her husband entered politics, though she gave up her job at NBC. Their union was often tested in Sacramento, where the former action star contended with a rough seven years of legislative gridlock, a budget crisis and lingering questions about his fidelity.

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