EVERYTHING seems so wonderful at first, even in a thunderous downpour, you feel warm and safe in your partners arms. But then, for whatever reason, the bliss comes to a bitter end. The person you loved so much suddenly becomes a liability to you. You decide to go on with life as best as you can and just when you think you are done with drama, you receive a wedding invitation – to your ex’s wedding!
“I will never forget the look on my best friend’s face when I told her my ex had sent me a wedding invitation. To be honest, this is why we broke up in the first place; I wanted to get married and he didn’t. He said he didn’t believe in the institution of marriage. We had a bitter fight and ended things. Exactly a year and a half after that, I was told he was engaged,” says Laura Kaitesi, an events planner now married with a one-year-old daughter.
It can never be too easy to attend an ex’s wedding, especially when they were not very keen on marrying you. Some say if you ended the relationship on good terms then attending their wedding is not awkward. Others argue that good terms or not, you have no business being a witness as your ex walks down the aisle with another person.
Mariam, an attorney at a popular law firm in Kigali, was engaged to her boyfriend whom she had dated for three years. With a relationship full of quarrels and fights, they couldn’t hold on to it and so they parted ways.
“We separated and cut communication for over a year. I just realised that he had moved on when he posted pictures of his new girlfriend on Facebook,” she says sadly. “I can’t say I wasn’t hurt because deep down in my heart I still loved him. I felt like a sharp object had pierced through my heart when he sent me an invitation to his wedding.”
Mariam says she doesn’t know if it was insulting or flattering that they saw it fit to invite her and most confusingly, there was no logical reason for her to be so torn up about his wedding.
“According to me, it meant that I was still close enough to justify my presence at the most important day of his life. On the other hand, I couldn’t have been that serious with him, otherwise the bride would have undoubtedly prohibited my invitation. It would have been weird and inappropriate,” she narrates.
Mariam got herself together and attended the wedding though she left quite early to avoid any interactions with his ex.
Josian Keza Ntabyoba, a sales person in an electronics dealership, thought going for an ex’s wedding would be a pleasant event as she wanted to see another woman get with a man that would surely hurt her, just like he had done to her.
“I broke up with my ex after he cheated on me. He always loved some other lady and when I found out I broke it off. Months later he came to apologise but I didn’t listen to him. I knew that whoever he would marry, he wouldn’t love them and he would still be a player so I didn’t really find it painful to attend the wedding,” she says.
She got dressed and went to witness the day. To her dismay, the couple looked so happy, she had never seen her ex so happy and the worst part of it was that the wedding was well organised. Everything was so beautiful.
“The wedding was lovely. It was one of those events you can honestly say had nothing wrong. The couple looked like they would live happily ever after. Everything went well. The food was good, the champagne flowed, and the guests were well-dressed. The bride looked amazing,” she recalls. “I regretted going there. I felt like breaking down but I couldn’t. People started to notice my discomfort, and at some point, I couldn’t hold it back, I just stood up and walked away.”
Jessica C. Mutoni, living in London, says she got the shock of her life when one of her friends decided to date her ex.
“I really loved that guy and it broke my heart when he broke up with me. I can’t count how many nights I cried over him. I found out about him and my friend through another friend. I confronted her and she never denied it. She said she was in love and that she never meant to hurt or disrespect me. I actually let it go and we continued as friends.”
“When I received their wedding invitation, I didn’t know what to make of it. I thought of not going but that would look like I was still into the guy and honestly, I wasn’t. So I did something even bigger – I offered to pay for her reception gown! It was simply epic!”
Jack Musasizi, an entrepreneur, dated his ex for five years. He was almost sure he would marry her because they were even cohabiting.
“We did a lot together and shared a lot of things including a bank account. I could even say that we were almost married, just not officially. A lot happened and we broke up and cut communication,” he says. “Trying to move on, I later got an invitation from her asking me to go to her wedding. I couldn’t believe that she could do such a thing. It was so shameless of her; I got so mad and called her to tell her off. It really made me angry and I realised that I still had feelings for her.”
Musasizi claims that going for an ex’s wedding is like slow poison, it kills you more so if what you shared is still present in your heart.
71-year-old mother of five girls, Allen Mutabazi, says when couples break up, it’s best to keep it in the past.
“Once, I attended a wedding where a man was getting married but when he saw his ex, that he clearly still loved, he refused to say “I do” and run to his ex to get her back claiming she was the ‘sunshine’ of his life. After giving her a long speech, she refused to get back with him. He lost his wife to be too and worst of all, he wasted a lot of money since many preparations had been made and paid for,” she states.
She adds that emotional attachments shouldn’t be things to play around with; going to an ex’s wedding can cause a lot of emotional distress and psychological torture. “When you break up, it’s best to leave the past behind you,” she says.
How you behave before an ex depends on how it all ended, says Pastor Jimmy Kaboya from Christ’s Assembly Church.
“Sometimes the one you love can hurt you so much that attending their wedding is something that will end-up hurting you, while on the other hand, you may have actually had a smooth break-up and decide to keep the friendship. In such a case it doesn’t do harm to celebrate with your ex on their wedding day,” Kaboya said.
He also cautions that it would be wise to inform your ex that you can’t attend their wedding instead of being a hypocrite and attending an event you dread as the Bible preaches against it in James 1:26. (If anyone thinks he is religious and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his heart, this person’s religion is worthless)
The pastor also encourages Christians to forgive their ex’s and press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.
Marriage Councilor Harriet Ingabire compares attending an ex’s wedding to unpeeling a dry wound.
“To imagine the ideal situation is to have a sight thought that an ex can be friend and have no problem in seeing the other settling down with somebody else in life. That’s so unearthly, often unachievable unless it was puppy love,” she narrates. “Though the tendency to forgive and move on varies from person to person.”
Ingabire assures that it’s best to leave an ex in the past otherwise it can affect one’s relationship life.
“After seeing an ex getting married, some people are forced to do the same just to show how much they’ve moved on as well. This is often a rushed decision and comes with many consequences. When you are no longer with someone, let them be and keep a distance in any way you can,” Ingabire concludes.
Ex’s that matter in our lives have a continuing hold over us even when, rationally, we think we’re well adjusted to the break up and content with our new lives, says relationship psychologist Dr. Valerie Lamont.
‘Raving jealousy, anxiety and a childish feeling that even though you don’t want him, you don’t want anyone else to have him are all common when a former lover announces he’s getting married,’ says the doctor.
‘Because you know the two of you shared a special connection, that you saw the private side of him no-one else did and, like any couple, enjoyed special, secret times together, it’s hard not to feel elbowed out and displaced when he meets someone else and prepares to sail off into the sunset with her.
Whereas some people try to prove to others just how unmoved they are by an ex’s wedding, very many will insist that there is nothing to prove. It’s just plain awkward!
Rise to the occasion
Choosing a ‘Congratulations on your Wedding’ card, writing a warm, friendly message inside and sending it off to your ex will make you feel a whole lot better. The fact that you’ve soared above the childish feelings of ‘but he wasn’t meant to be happy with someone else’ to wish him well will help you get things in perspective.
If you’re in regular contact with your ex because you have children together or move in the same social circles, it’s best to bite the bullet and congratulate him in person.
The only time it’s best to leave them well alone is if you haven’t seen them for a long time or if the split was acrimonious. In these circumstances, making contact could actually make you feel worse - try to leave things as they are and focus on your current relationship.
Do’s and Don’ts
DO tell your girlfriends how you’re feeling and let them remind you of the times they had to counsel you through all those bad times with your ex;
DON’T confide in your current partner - he’ll only feel threatened and jealous;
DO focus on your ex’s failings - everything from his snoring to the way he put you down in front of your mates. It will help you see the real picture;
DON’T bitch about him and his new love in public - it just reflects badly on you.
Would you attend your ex’s wedding?
Yes, if I moved on then there is no harm in attending it. By then he would be just a friend or someone I know at least. I would even go ahead to give some financial assistance if he needed any.
Not attending would show that I haven’t moved on. So I would definitely attend even though I know it’s going to hurt a lot seeing the man I once loved being taken by another lady.
She wouldn’t be part of my life anymore, I have no business attending her wedding so I definitely wouldn’t go there. An ex is in the past and the past should stay where it is.
If I ever loved her I wouldn’t attend. It doesn’t matter how much people try to pretend. The truth is that it would still hurt so what’s the point of attending an event that will hurt you. I would rather stay home and sleep and forget.
Vox pop by Patrick Buchana