In his new autobiography, "Total Recall: My Unbelievably True Life Story," Arnold Schwarzenegger talks about how his wife, Maria Shriver, confronted him about his secret love child -- and how he begged her not to leave him.
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On January 4, 2011, Schwarzenegger and Shriver went to a therapist together -- an appointment she requested the day after his term as governor of California ended. He thought the counseling session was to help the couple cope with the transition from public to private life.
Instead, "The minute we sat down, the therapist turned to me and said, 'Maria wanted to come here today and to ask about a child -- whether you fathered a child with your housekeeper Mildred'," Schwarzenegger writes in his book, which comes out next week. "I told the therapist, 'It's true'."
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Years earlier, Shriver had asked him if the boy was his, and he had denied it. This time, the "Terminator" star and politician writes that he told his wife that "It was my screw up." He gave her "lame" reasons for not having confided in her before -- he was trying to save her from embarrassment, he wrote, and he didn't want to face her family, the Kennedys.
At the therapy session, he writes, Shriver implied that she had already confronted Baena, who had confessed. She knew that Schwarzenegger had been financially supporting Baena and her family for years.
Schwarzenegger writes that he begged Shriver to stay, calling her the "perfect wife" and saying he was still "turned on" by her, but it was too little, too late: Shriver filed for divorce after 25 years of marriage.
Schwarzenegger, who is now 65, writes in the book that he slept with the family's longtime housekeeper, Mildred Baena, in 1996, in the family guest house, while he was in town filming "Batman and Robin." (Shriver and their four children were away on vacation, he wrote.)
Joseph was born in 1997, and Schwarzenegger says that he spent years trying to convince himself that Baena's husband was the boy's father. As Joseph grew older, the resemblance between him and Schwarzenegger was undeniable. "I realized there was little doubt that he was my son," Schwarzenegger wrote.
But instead of telling his wife the truth, he kept silent -- and he kept his mistress on the payroll in order to "control the situation."
"Instead of doing the right thing, I'd just put the truth in a mental compartment and locked it up where I didn't deal with it every day," he writes. "I blocked out the fact that as a husband and father, as a man with a family and wife, I was letting people down."
He told "60 Minutes" that Shriver had not yet read the book.
"She knows that it's about my whole life and that I would not write a book and leave out that part and make people feel like, 'Well, wait a minute, are we just getting a book about his success stories and not talk about his failures?'" he said. "And that's not the book I wanted to write."
Shriver, now 56, married Schwarzenegger in 1986, nine years after her family invited the Austrian-born body builder and movie star to play in a celebrity tennis tournament. The couple split up on May 10, 2011.
Shriver moved out of the family's Brentwood, California, home weeks before they announced their separation. Some said that she had been unhappy for years; others speculated that she was finally fed up by her husband's long history of womanizing.
In his book, Schwarzenegger confesses that he probably cheated on his wife because of stupidity and arrogance. It was arrogance, he writes, that made him think he could "get away with ignoring the rules."
"I understand and deserve the feelings of anger and disappointment among my friends and family," he told the Los Angeles Times after the affair with Baena became public. "There are no excuses and I take full responsibility for the hurt I have caused. I have apologized to Maria, my children and my family. I am truly sorry. I ask that the media respect my wife and children through this extremely difficult time. While I deserve your attention and criticism, my family does not. "
Still, he hopes that some day he and Shriver will get back together.
"You can call this denial," he writes. "But it's the way my mind works."
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