“You done changed,” is a consistent poke between friends; especially when one has achieved a certain level of success. It’s particularly a joke for someone who has enjoyed or reached a certain level of celebrity. Jokes aside, people do change and grow regardless of success or fame. However, in a relationship when one person has grown and the other person has not, it can be a difficult road to travel.

One of my sister-friends has been dating her husband since they were in high school in the inner city of St. Louis. For all intents and purposes, he’s a great guy. More importantly, he has been supportive of my sister-friend’s education and career although he has consistently maintained blue-collar jobs as a bus driver and a postal worker. On the other hand, my sister-friend has worked her way through higher education earning a MBA and Ph.D.

My sister-friend and I were on the phone a couple of weeks ago and she was lamenting over the fact that she often felt embarrassed by her husband in settings with her colleagues. Somewhere along the way she’d left him behind socially and definitely educationally. Often, she found herself not inviting him to events so she could avoid the bad feelings and the shame associated with those feelings.

She was asking for my advice, but even for me this was a tough one. I asked her whether she’d share what she was learning with her husband like Nettie and Miss Celie in The Color Purple. She had not.

Then, the real problem came out. She wasn’t sure she wanted to educate him. She went on to confess that she’d grown so much, not just socially, but also in maturity that he no longer was attractive to her. They didn’t like the same things anymore. Their discussions bored her. Ultimately, all of which made her not sexually attracted to him too. She’d seen the world and become the person she was intended to be.  And, that woman was different than the girl he’d met on the block when they were fourteen.

“It happens,” I said plainly. It does happen, especially when people meet at such a young age and stay together. I believe it is why the divorce rate for people who marry after thirty is much lower than people who marry earlier. She certainly couldn’t have known herself at fourteen or even when they got married at twenty-one.

My advice was to have a discussion with him about how she was feeling. Seek counseling and see if they could close the gap between them. Unfortunately, growing apart can be a lot more difficult than other marital issues that are merely circumstantial, like finances and infidelity. I encouraged her to exhaust all that she could to save her marriage, but she ultimately had to do what would make her happy and give her the freedom to live her best life.

Life is what it is and people grow apart. If you really do love and care for someone you owe it to each other to try to work it out. But, it might be an unwinnable situation if you’ve grown and he hasn’t.

Wishing you love and ceaseless joy! Follow @NathanHWilliams on Twitter.

Nathan’s book INSPIRATION: Profiles of Black Women Changing Our World is available now.