real life

EXCLUSIVE: The one thing Jackie O wishes women knew about divorce.

When you’re one of the most successful women in Australian media, it can be easy for others to assume that everything in your life is always smooth sailing.

Big pay cheques, endless opportunities and a hit radio show can sometimes take away from the fact that you're human – because, what problems could you possibly have?

Jackie 'O' Henderson, co-host of the famous and uber-successful Kyle & Jackie O Show, lives a life many could only dream of. However, on her most recent appearance on Mamamia’s No Filter podcast, listeners were reminded that she has struggles too.


Speaking to Mia Freedman, Jackie opened up about being twice divorced, and how different it was the second time when a child was involved.

The radio host was only 19 years old when she first tied the knot to her then co-host Phil O’Neil, who was 10 years her senior.

"That marriage [to Phil] was really beautiful. But it was like a high school romance. It felt like that. And so when that ended, as painful as it was, it's very different to the marriage that ends when you have children," she said on No Filter.

The two were married for five years before calling it quits, making Jackie only 24 years old when the marriage ended.

Eight months later, she met Lee Henderson, her second husband, with whom she shares a 13-year-old daughter.

"I met Lee when I was out. We were at the Blue Room and I had just started Popstar. He was British, not here for long and he had seen me on TV," she recalled.

"He was too nervous to come over. So he sent his friend over to buy me a drink. And that was kind of how we met. I thought he was gorgeous, obviously."

That night resulted in a 15-year-long marriage, a child... and Jackie’s second divorce. A divorce that was a lot more difficult than her first.


"When you have to start dealing with separating assets and child custody, it doesn't really matter how great your relationship is, that part is so painful, and so triggering for everyone I know who's been through it," she said.

"The worst comes out in people, especially when lawyers are involved. You might say certain things within your relationship like, 'If we ever split up, I would never do this, I would never ask for this.' And then suddenly, you're alone with your lawyer and your lawyers are going, 'You have to ask for this.'

"And then you feel betrayed, and that is incredibly triggering. You think, 'How could they do this? Why do they want this?' So a lot of raw nerves hit during that process."

Turns out, the feeling of betrayal is common during divorce proceedings – and it's a feeling couples' therapist Melissa Ferrari says is a byproduct of grief.

"Grief that it ended, grief of losing the dream of what it was supposed to be and also the grief of not being able to discuss and sort things out face to face amicably," Ferrari told Mamamia.

But while divorce and everything leading up to it usually comes with big emotions, Jackie emphasised how important it was to move on – especially if two people are planning on co-parenting.

"Once that decision has been made, let it go. You can't harbour any kind of resentment, because at the end of the day, you're going to be co-parenting and you want to keep that really copacetic. So once you let that go, then the healing starts. And that takes another couple of years. So I would say to anyone going through this. It's a three year process. Easy."


For many, the end of a marriage symbolises a closing of a chapter that you initially thought would be the epilogue. It's hard to continue living your life without your husband or wife, but it's a step that is necessary for the sake of your own mental health – and your children's.

"Make sure you have processed the grief well. Divorce really causes trauma for most people so being able to recover by talking it through with a good therapist, journalling, reaching out to those who care and love you is important," advised Ferrari.

But it wasn't just divorce that Jackie opened up about. The media personality also spoke about sharing custody, and how lonely it can be when you only have your child around 50 per cent of the time.


"It was difficult on the days that I didn't have her. I'm not gonna lie. Those days you're kind of suddenly left on your own. And I think in those moments, you can start drinking a little more. You know, you don't have any responsibilities. You're a bit lost. You either embrace those moments by doing self care, maybe catching up with friends, or you can go the other way, and you sit at home alone and have a drink," she said.

"Unfortunately, I kind of went that way instead of the healthier way. Everything became really unhealthy. So I had these two lives: I was living like the good mum, the one that was present and happy and taking her out and doing things. And then there was the other side that was a little bit dark and a little bit lonely."

So what can women do during times of loneliness like this? According to Ferrari, there are a few easy ways to ensure life doesn’t feel so grim.


"Go where the love is with friends and family. Keep your connections, get a good therapist and have some fun doing some things you couldn't do when you were in the previous relationship."

And on a more positive note, Jackie did say that having Kitty around half the time has actually made her a more present parent.

"When you're at home 24/7 with your children or child, a lot of the time you can be distracted, you can be impatient, you can be on your phone. I found that by having Kitty 50 per cent of the time, I was a better mother than I was having her 100 per cent of the time.

"I appreciated and valued her presence so much. So I made that count. And I think in a way it was actually a good thing. I just tried to look at it from a positive point of view."

To hear Jackie speak about her recent divorce, why it was so much harder than her first, what she wishes she'd known before her marriage ended, how she protects her daughter and co-parents with her ex, what it's like to be on Hinge and how she spends her money........ Listen to Mia's full No Filter interview with Jackie O here. 

Interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.

Feature image: Mamamia No Filter.

Love watching TV and movies? Take our survey now to go in the running to win a $100 gift voucher.