The Sad Way Sarah Palin Learned Her Husband Wanted A Divorce

There's no good way to find out that someone you've been married to for more than 30 years doesn't really want to talk things through anymore and wants out of the marriage. So we've got nothing but sympathy for Sarah Palin, who served as Alaska's first woman governor, when she shared the story of how she found out her marital status was about to change. 

NBC News says Sarah Palin learned her husband Todd wanted a divorce through an email from his attorney, which she received a week after they marked their 31st wedding anniversary. It turns out that Todd filed for divorce on his birthday, three months prior. 

The former Alaska governor told James Dobson, founder of the Family Talk Christian ministry, that getting the email was a shock. "It's not easy to talk about," she told Dobson (via People). "It was devastating. I thought I got shot," she said. While Sarah said at the time that she had hoped that counseling would help her and Todd work things out because, as she put it, "it's not over over," it appears she was more optimistic than she should have been, because the two of them are no longer a couple.

Sarah Heath and Todd Palin were high school sweethearts

Sarah Heath and Todd Palin met at Wasila High School, after Todd moved to Alaska. The Los Angeles Times (via SFGate) says they were both smitten with each other, and eloped after Sarah returned to Alaska with a degree in communications from the University of Idaho. The paper also says their wedding happened in a city hall ceremony so they could save some money.

Todd may not have gone to college, but he was trained by London-based BP to work in Alaska's oil fields, where he was making as much as $100,000 to $120,000 a year. Anchorage Daily News says he was earning this salary at the time he took a leave in 2006 in order to avoid accusations of any conflict of interest resulting from his wife's position as governor. After that, the "first dude," as he was known in the state, took up more domestic responsibilities.

In his filing, Todd cited the reason to end his marriage as "incompatibility of temperament between the parties such that they find it impossible to live together as husband and wife," which People said was the same as blaming the breakdown of their marriage on "irreconcilable differences." Other than the fact that Todd wanted joint custody of their youngest son Trig as well as a fair division of their belongings, little else is known about the divorce petition, because the lawyers had likely asked for documents to remain confidential (via People).

Sarah Palin and her family have been in and out of the headlines

Aside from Trig, Sarah and Todd Palin have four other children: son Track, and three daughters, Bristol, Willow, and Piper, all of whom are older (via InformationCradle). While the family has tried to portray an image of wholesomeness, they have been involved in some interesting headlines. Son Track was accused of punching his girlfriend in 2016, and was convicted of assaulting his father a year after that. Daughter Bristol became a fixture on the MTV show "Teen Mom" after becoming pregnant (via Sky News).

Sarah Palin, meanwhile, became a household name when the late Sen. John McCain picked her to be his running mate during his failed 2008 presidential campaign (via Britannica). While Palin proved to be a popular candidate, McCain wasn't too keen on his pick, and the two ended having a rather complicated relationship, and there were times McCain revealed his regrets over his choice of running mate. As New York Times columnist David Brooks said to The Guardian: "I don't think he [McCain] could have known it at the time but he took a disease that was running through the Republican party — anti-intellectualism, disrespect for facts — and he put it right at the center of the party."

Few outsiders saw that the Palins' marriage was in trouble

The former governor's popularity didn't wane when their ticket fell to the Obama-Biden team, and Sarah Palin remained in the political limelight, capitalizing on her name recognition by becoming a Fox News Channel contributor and with her TLC television show "Sarah Palin's Alaska," as well as penning several books (via The Atlantic).

The divorce in 2019 didn't just come as a surprise to Sarah, it also surprised their good friend, actor Dean Cain, who said he had been at their home months before their split was announced. "They seemed wonderful together," the actor told People last year. "I'd hate to speculate on the cause — what happens behind closed doors and how people grow and change over time is something no one can ever predict or understand, save those two people" (via People).

No matter how both Sarah and Todd Palin have chosen to move on from their marriage, Cain says they'll keep their family front and center. "I know that they're both extremely devoted and wonderful parents," the actor said, "and I'm certain that they'll both remain dedicated to Trig and their other children."