Sarah Palin says she found out Todd Palin, her husband of more than three decades, was seeking a divorce while she routinely checked her email inbox.
In a new interview with Christian author James Dobson, the former Alaska governor, 55, opened up about how the filing has emotionally affected her — and why her marriage is “not over, over.”
Sarah claimed she first learned about Todd’s desire to split when one of his lawyers emailed her in June.
“It was devastating. I thought I got shot,” she said of the feeling she got when the filing became official in September, on Todd’s 55th birthday and a week after they celebrated their 31st wedding anniversary.
Now, she said the two are still working to repair their relationship.
“We’re going through counseling now, so it’s not over, over,” Sarah said. “Attorneys are getting rich off of us and I don’t like that whole system. It makes no sense to me.”
She later added: “God doesn’t want families to split up. I know that. To me, in a general sense, marriage is so extremely important as foundation of our nation. It helps make America that much greater, is that security of family. I’m not to the point of wanting mine to be split.”
Sarah and Todd, who eloped in 1988, share five children together, the youngest being 11-year-old Trigg, who Todd is seeking joint custody of. Sarah said it helps her that her kids aren’t happy with the idea of their parents splitting, motivating her to try to rebuild her marriage.
“They’re mad because they have been brought up with that teaching that you have made a covenant with God,” she said. “My parents, they’ve been married for 58 years … everybody’s kind of traditional family sticks together through thick and thin because you made a vow to God that through thick and thin, good and bad, you’re going to make that choice to … jump whatever hurdles are in front of you and you’re going to make it.”
She continued: “So my kids witnessing what’s happening, they don’t like it.”
Todd filed for divorce from Sarah on Sept. 6, court records show. His complaint cited “incompatibility of temperament between the parties such that they find it impossible to live together as husband and wife.” (According to the Washington Post, “incompatibility of temperament” in Alaska is not unlike “irreconcilable differences” in other divorces.)
The last decade turned the Palins into household names — first as groundbreakers (Sarah was Alaska’s youngest and first woman governor and was seen as a curveball for a Republican presidential ticket) then as lightning rods. They did not shy from the spotlight after Sarah left office.
“When you’re granted influence, you don’t squander it,” she told PEOPLE in 2010. “I realize that people can stop listening to me at any time. As long as my kids don’t stop, I’m fine with it.”