'I ended my first marriage at 24. Now I'm engaged, but I can't shake the 'divorcee' label.'


I first got engaged when I was 19.

I know exactly what you’re thinking, and rest assured I now think exactly the same way, but at the time it seemed like such a good idea.

I’d always been overly mature for my years, so when I passed the age to legally drink a beer in Australia, I also felt as though I was mature enough to tackle the next milestone in life – marriage. Even though we had only been dating for one year and had never lived together.

We were in love and wanted to spend every minute in each other’s pockets. Unfortunately, my Greek Orthodox parents were unsupportive of us living together alone and unmarried – what would the neighbors think?! So, we did exactly what was expected of us and instead of rebelling like normal ratbags, we got married.

Watch: Things people never say at weddings. Post continues below.

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My ex-husband (such a horrible word, I think) is a fantastic man. He is one of the kindest people you will ever meet. He never harmed me, we rarely fought, and we were the best of friends.


The end came in the exact way most people expected it to. I was too young and had no idea who I was, let alone who I was to somebody else. It was as though we were playing house, like little kids in the playground, except this time there were real bills to pay and real feelings to be hurt.

Our marriage lasted three years before I ended it. I was 24 years old.

It’s been almost ten years since I walked down the aisle and I feel as though I’ve only just recovered. Well, 99 per cent recovered.

Getting divorced is one of the hardest things in life to go through. Even when the terms are good, and the choices are amicable, there is no way to shield yourself or those around you from the shitstorm that occurs when two lives are torn apart at their fleshy seams.

Image: Supplied.
"It’s been almost ten years since I walked down the aisle and I feel as though I’ve only just recovered." Image: Supplied.

One of the worst parts about divorce, aside from forever being known as ‘the one who ruined everything’ and the guilt of knowing you caused so much pain to someone you once loved, is the label you adopt.

You’re no longer a ‘miss’ or ‘mrs’, you’re a ‘ms’. When filling out your marital status on forms you now fall into the category of ‘divorced’ and when you start dating someone new there is always the timing debate of when to tell them that you are a ‘divorcee’ and are essentially damaged.

I felt damaged for a long time, and I avoided telling people that I was divorced as much as possible because I didn’t want to be seen in a different light. But the truth always comes out.

In five short weeks, I’m getting married again. I’m now thirty and can put faith in my maturity level and readiness to share my heart and house with another person, even when it means compromising on what to watch next on Netflix.

My fiancé and I have been through hell and back to get to this point, and our relationship has been tested in every possible way, so finally getting to the point where we can set a date and slide on rings deserves a huge celebration. The problem is, I’m still stuck treading around with the ‘divorcee’ toilet paper stuck to my shoe.


Ten years on and I’m still getting hit with "Oh, but you’ve done this before" and "Are you going to wear a wedding dress?"

Oh, then there's my favourite reply I get when I tell someone I’m engaged: "Are you sure you want to do that? It didn’t work out so well last time for you."

Thanks, Susan, I’ll add that to my list of failures to remind myself about as I try to sleep at night.

Mamamia’s award-winning podcast The Split discusses navigating separation and divorce. Post continues after audio.

The worst part is, my fiancé hasn’t been married before. Yes, this is the worst part.

You see this is his first wedding, meaning this huge event that is about to take place in his life is the first (and hopefully) last time it will happen. But because of my label, his big day is diluted down because ‘I’ve done it all before’ and suddenly the toilet paper on my shoe has become tattooed on my forehead, and the shine of my new engagement ring cannot light up the shadows of my past.

This wedding is the skeletal version of my first huge-morbidly-obese-Greek-wedding. There is no church or poufy white dress. No veil or tiara, no page boy or flower girls, no hen’s night, bridal shower or bucks party. No 4-course meal, no band, and no sparkly reception venue. It’s me, my man and forty of our closest friends and family.


Planning our wedding has been tough, mostly because we started planning it one week ago, but also because of the judgment I feel I must now face. It’s a double-edged sword.

On one hand, I want to invite my nearest and dearest to celebrate this HUGE achievement, but on the other hand, I’m afraid that behind my back they are making bets on how long this one will last. There's also a chance that all this paranoia is in my head and literally no one cares… slight chance.

So here’s the moral of my story. Spare a thought for your divorced friends and hold your tongue when you feel a joke coming on because, although it may all be said in jest, I guarantee you that the shrapnel of your hilarious divorce-bomb will stick somewhere.

Signed, Tina
President of the Divorcees Against Labels Commission, Future Wife of Italian Stud Muffin and Second Time Bride in a White Dress (f*ck off Susan).

This article originally appeared on Medium and has been republished with full permission. For more from Tina, you can find her here.

Feature Image: Supplied.