Lisa Whelchel, who is known for her role as Blair Warner on the 80s sitcom "The Facts of Life," divorced her husband after a 24-year marriage.
In an exclusive interview with PEOPLE, Whelchel confessed that she and her husband pastor Steve Cauble, quietly divorced in March 2012.
"It was painful to realize that it wasn't going to work out."
According to Whelchel, their divorce was final on March 1, and nine days later, she left to compete on the reality show "Survivor."
"Going out to Survivor was helpful for me, to divert my attention and not just dwell on the loss," Whelchel said.
"I just never thought it would happen to me," she added. "It was painful to realize that it wasn't going to work out."
The two preferred not to elaborate on the real reason why they called it quits. But even though their relationship was over, Whelchel said they remained close to one another.
"We will always be friends," she explained. "And we will always be family, too."
In another interview with PEOPLE, Whelchel shared that she and Cauble still see each other consistently. In fact, they even come out together to watch a movie or eat at a restaurant.
Before revealing she and Cauble divorced, Whelchel took to her personal website to open up about her experience on "Survivor."
In response to a question of whether it was "fun" being a competitor on "Survivor," she wrote:
"I don't think 'fun' is the word I would use to describe my experience."
"Those days on the island were the hardest thing I've ever done in my life," she added. "It pushed me to my extreme limits physically, mentally, spiritually, and especially, emotionally."
Whelchel, who is a devout Christian, tied the knot with Cauble in 1988. The former couple initially met at a prayer group in 1986.
After the "The Facts of Life" ended, Whelchel and Cauble worked together in Christian ministry. They have three children — Tucker, Haven, and Clancy.
Since 2004, Whelchel has been a regular inspirational speaker at churches and conferences across the nation.
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