Former Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist and his wife of 31 years, Karyn, have divorced.
Family spokeswoman Beth Seigenthaler Courtney said in a statement that the Frists "ask for prayers, understanding and privacy at this time."
Frist was a heart surgeon before entering politics in 1994, and his 12 years in the Senate were marked by a speedy rise but an uncertain tenure at the peak. He was widely expected to make a 2008 presidential bid, but cited his close ties with the unpopular Bush administration in his decision not to run.
Bill Frist in his 2009 memoir "A Heart to Serve" recounted meeting his future wife in 1979 when he attended to her at a clinic while he was working as a resident at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston.