The real reason why Solange Knowles separated from her husband

One of the Knowles sisters is officially single, and it's not Beyonce, although she and husband Jay-Z have been famously open about their marital struggles

Solange Knowles, Beyonce's younger sister, announced on Nov. 1, 2019 that she would be separating from Alan Ferguson, her husband of five years. While Bey and Jay's relationship dramas have played out publicly in their music, Solange was famously private about her 11-year partnership with Alan. And yet, the high-art couple, who tied the knot in a perfectly stylish wedding at New Orleans' Marigny Opera House on Nov. 16, 2014, called it quits just days before their fifth anniversary. Although Solange and Alan's spilt had definitely been confirmed, as of this writing, it's unknown whether either of the stars has actually filed divorce papers yet. 

Why did this duo of musical heavyweights decide to throw in the towel? Let's explore the real reasons why Knowles and Ferguson are separating.

Solange dished on Instagram about the split

Solange Knowles broke the news to fans about her divorce in a since-deleted Instagram post confirming the split. To readers' surprise, she dropped the bombshell that she'd actually separated from Alan Ferguson earlier in 2019. She made it clear, though, that she wasn't bitter about the breakup, calling Ferguson "a phenomenal man who changed every existence of my life (via 5 NBCDFW)." Never one to share too much about her personal life, Solange kept things vague as she discussed her new life change. "I find it necessary to protect the sacredness of my personal truth and to live in it fully just as I have before and will continue to do," she wrote. "It is unfair to not have power of your own story as you shape and mold and rewrite it yourself."

Less cryptically, Solange claimed that she'd fundamentally changed as a person in the years prior to her split from Ferguson. "The past two years have brought me more physical and spiritual transition and evolution than ever before...my body left me with no choice but to listen and be still," she wrote. "Within that stillness I begin my journey in confronting my worst enemy, fear."

Sounds like a lot happened over two years, the details of which Solange didn't want to spell out for fans. 

Rumors swirled that Solange already had a new man

As it turned out, Solange Knowles' Instagram statement didn't come from out of the blue. The week before she confirmed the split, Twitter was ablaze with rumors after a gossip site shared an unconfirmed video of a woman who looked a lot like Solange getting "handsy" with a man who didn't appear to be Ferguson. Fans on social media responded with equal parts disbelief and celebration, with many users speculating that the singer was already divorced, which, of course, has yet to be proven by either star publicly filing their papers, as of this writing.  

"Excuse me? Solange is divorced?" one confused Twitter user exclaimed, as another wrote, "Oh I definitely didn't know Solange wasn't with that man anymore. Wow." 

To many fans, the "Don't Touch My Hair" singer's quiet separation was admirable, just additional proof that she's one of the smartest celebrities in the game. "Solange divorced that man quietly. Goals," one fan wrote. Another admired Solange's multitasking skills, tweeting, "Solange got a whole new man before people even found out she was divorced. Energy." And a third social media user joked about a certain rapper who may be interested in Solange now that she's on the market, writing, "Solange single again? Anybody informed Wale?"

Was Solange's manager involved in the breakup?

The plot thickened when, days after Solange Knowles' zen Instagram post announcing her breakup, a paparazzi picture surfaced of Solange walking closely alongside her manager John Bogaard, allegedly taken when the pair were departing Paris' Charles de Gaulle Airport in July 2019. The photo surprised Solange fans, considering Bogaard's man-bun and blonde beard cut quite a different figure than Ferguson. In a since-deleted post on her Instagram Stories, she attempted to dispel the rumors that she was involved with Bogaard, establishing that he was just her manager, not her romantic partner.

In the caption, Solange thanked Bogaard for being "the best co-manager for (five years)," and called the Internet rumors "unkind" and "lying". "Go back to enjoying ya vacation," she wrote (via Page Six), acknowledging that the drama was catching Bogaard while he was traveling. 

Bogaard didn't comment publicly on the drama at the time, but posted a photo of a different woman one month later on his Instagram, calling her "my main squeeze" in the caption.

The ex-couple's disappearing act

While plenty of celebrity couples avoid the spotlight to keep their personal life private, Solange Knowles was rarely seen in public with Alan Ferguson, not even for a lunch date or shopping trip. Even at the Met Gala, the Metropolitan Museum of Art's annual fashion bash where it's common to see even the most private couples showing off their looks together, Solange has walked the red carpet alone every year since she and Ferguson last attended together in 2015.

However, in March 2019, Just Jared published a paparazzi shot of the couple stepping out in Los Angeles to go to lunch, pointing out that the previous pap photo of the couple dining together dated all the way back to 2017. 

As far as we can tell, the last awards show Solange and Ferguson were spotted at together? The 2017 Grammys, where they celebrated next to Beyonce and Jay-Z. Since then, Solange's schedule hasn't included many red-carpet appearances, and when she has shown up, she's done so without appearing next to Ferguson for the cameras. Privacy is one thing, but leaving your spouse literally out of the picture for years on end isn't the best sign of a healthy marriage.  

Then came Common...

Has Solange Knowles already rebounded from her breakup with another celebrity name? Not so fast, she cautioned fans. In February 2020, Solange was honored at the Lena Horne Prize for Artists Creating Social Impact celebration ceremony, as was the rapper Common. Following the event, a photo of her and Common circulated around the Internet, showing them standing together on the red carpet, an image that was later revealed to be Photoshopped.

Solange was apparently not amused, allegedly posting screenshots on her Instagram Stories from two videos titled "Lying on Me" and "Why the (expletive) you lying." It sure sounds like she's accusing someone (or the entire Internet) of lying. 

Gossip site SOHH also claimed to obtain an exclusive statement from Solange's camp denying that she and Common were an item: "Solange and Common are not seeing each other. Both artists attended the Lena Horne Prize event simply to honor Lena Horne's Legacy."

Adding fuel to the flames of the dating rumors, Common also recently underwent a breakup, splitting with CNN commentator Angela Rye in 2018, then reuniting in 2019 for a brief period before deciding to part ways for good. 

Did Solange's health contribute to the split?

When one half of a couple is battling health problems, the relationship can strain to the point of breaking. In fact, a 2015 study in The Journal of Health and Social Behavior finding that wives' illnesses are associated with an elevated risk of divorce more so than if their husbands get sick. As if that's fair.

Nevertheless, Solange Knowles revealed in 2017 that she was battling a nervous system disorder, another factor that may have added stress to her marriage. While Solange has declined to share specifics about the nature of the illness, in a 2019 interview with VICE's i-D, she described how her diagnosis led to a surprising re-awakening.

"Going through a transition where things were happening to my body that were out of my control, I got to the place where there was no fear surrounding my body, and it belongs to me in a whole new way," she said. "It's been a beautiful love affair that took me time. I've always been connected to my sexuality and sensuality, but so much of that was re-grounded during this time. The freedom I got to feel was amazing."

It's worth noting that, in her original Instagram post revealing the split, Solange mentioned the "physical and spiritual transition" she's experienced over the past two years, suggesting that perhaps her health issues impacted her decision to shake up her love life.

Solange feared collaborating with her ex would ruin their bond

Solange Knowles and Alan Ferguson frequently worked together on many projects, with Ferguson co-directing the 45-minute film she released with her 2019 album "When I Get Home," as well as music videos for her 2016 singles "Cranes in the Sky" and "Don't Touch My Hair." 

Sounds like a strong partnership, yes? Well, Solange wasn't so sure about it at first. In January 2017, Interview published a chat between Beyonce and Solange, in which the younger songstress claimed that she was nervous to work with Ferguson, fearing it would change their loving dynamic at home. 

"I remember telling you years ago that I wanted to work with him, but I was scared because I felt like our relationship, by the grace of God, is the one thing that I can count on to be intact and to be solid," Solange told Beyonce, adding, "When I go out in the world, I know that when I come home, I'm going to find peace with him. And I didn't want any variable that could interrupt that."

As Solange revealed in the interview, it was Beyonce who reassured her that working with her romantic partner was a good idea. "And you actually encouraged that and said, 'I swear, you guys are going to be just fine and will probably make the best work that you have ever made because of the way that you love and respect one another and each other's vision,'" Solange recalled. 

Solange Knowles and Alan Ferguson were workaholics

Speaking with Beyonce in 2017 for Interview, Solange actually mentioned how she and Ferguson shared similarly-fanatical work ethics. "Only a person who loves me would say yes to shooting 21 scenes in one week and climbing mountains and literally crossing waterfalls with million-dollar equipment strapped to his back," she said, describing the difficult shoots she and Ferguson led for accompanying videos for her 2016 album A Seat at the Table. "And, at the end of it, (the crew was) so tired, rightfully so. They were cranky and ready to go home, rightfully so. And Alan and I were like, 'We just got started!'"

In addition to his work with Solange, Ferguson has spent the past few years directing high-profile music videos for artists including Lizzo, Janelle Monae, Camila Cabello, and Logic.

And just look at the rest of Solange's schedule to see how she hasn't slowed down. Since releasing A Seat at the Table to widespread acclaim in 2016, Solange's schedule has been packed. For the next three years, she played numerous summer festivals, scored and performed at fashion shows, and staged elaborate performances at museums and theaters incorporating performance art. That's all before she released her album "When I Get Home" in 2019, accompanied by a 45-minute film. 

That's a superhuman amount of creative output, and enough to strain any normal relationship, and we have to wonder whether the duo's independently packed schedules contributed to their split.

Solange's rocky romantic history

Before linking up with Ferguson, Solange had already been through a wedding, pregnancy and divorce, all at a strikingly young age. 

In 2004, when Solange was 17, she married her high school sweetheart, Daniel Smith, in a ceremony in the Bahamas. Later that year, Solange gave birth to their son Daniel Julez J. Smith. According to The Spokesman-Review, Smith attempted to play college football for Houston's Texas Southern University, but he was redshirted. After transferring to Los Angeles Pierce College for two years, Smith eventually landed at the University of Idaho. Solange followed her husband west to the small town of Moscow, Idaho with her young son in tow.

"It was one of the most bittersweet moments of my life, because I was so in love with (my son) Julez, and having spent a lot of time on the road, I yearned to be in one place, to have the opportunity to really ground myself with him," she told ELLE in 2017. "But it was isolating and lonely, and so cold and dark. And it was just Julez and me most of the time. It was hard to imagine being able to progress in my career in any way."

Solange filed for divorce in 2006, telling Harper's Bazaar in 2014 that the whole experience gave her "an insane amount of perspective on life." After experiencing such a romantic trial at a young age, it's not a surprise that Solange was unafraid to exit her relationship with Ferguson. 

Maybe age wasn't just a number for Solange and Alan Ferguson

One of the many aspects that Beyonce and Solange share in common? The significant age gaps between Beyonce and Jay-Z, and Solange and her ex. The Knowles sisters' long-term partners were both significantly older than them, with Jay clocking in at 12 years older than Bey (per Cosmopolitan). Even more striking is the age difference between Solange and Ferguson, who were 33 and 56, respectively, at the time of their November split, according to USA Today.That means Ferguson is actually closer in age to Solange's 68-year-old father, Mathew Knowles, than her.  

And as it turns out, statistics were working against Solange and Ferguson's longevity as a couple. According to Psychology Today, one of the most-cited pieces of research about age gaps in relationships came from Emory University in 2014, which showed that "age gap was correlated with breaking up," particularly if the age gap exceeds five years.

While relationships between older men and much-younger women may be de rigeur in Hollywood, the fit apparently just wasn't right for Solange and Ferguson.