When Channing Tatum and Jenna Dewan Tatum announced their split, shock felt unavoidable. A licensed therapist shares how to handle a breakup and share the news, especially when kids are involved.
Channing and Jenna Dewan Tatum
Credit: Samir Hussein/WireImage

Most of us are pretty good at identifying when there is trouble in paradise. We think we know the tell-tale signs and often times when friends or celebrities split, it doesn't take much for us to echo, 'Well… We all saw that coming!"

So what happens when there are few signs and for all intents and purposes the couple looks incredibly happy, and suddenly announce their separation? What happens when the couple looks, not just happy but, to be full participants in a marriage that we are all a little jealous of? This is the exact case of Channing Tatum and Jenna Dewan. The announcement of their separation sent shock waves through their fans and celebrity gossip sites gasped, "but they seemed so HAPPY!?"

No one can really assess what is happening on the inside of a partnership, Jenna and Channing are the perfect examples of this.

In my three years as a licensed private therapist, I've watched countless committed couples wrestle with the intricate details of their relationships and how to navigate divorce and separation. There are typical determinates of why a relationship ends. Affairs, abuse, and extremely opposing life trajectory often top the list, but often a couple shows up who is lovingly compatible and simply doesn't want to be married any longer. We owe it to these couples and our communities to make space for them to end their relationship without the added pressure of our conjectures or need for salacious details. I'm not inclined to doubt the level of Jenna and Channing's happiness. Happy people get divorced for a laundry list of valid reasons. Period.

No matter the reason why the split is happening, every person deserves a closing to their relationship that best fit them, their partners, and their children. Which brings into question what so many couples have asked me in their therapy sessions. "How do we tell people."

In our social media obsessed world the pressure to explain why the wedding rings and the couple's candid photos suddenly disappear. This pressure is real for celebrities and everyday couples alike. And it only increases when there are children involved. Often, there's an impulse to worry what will people think. Dealing with the disappointment of how others feel about the end of your relationship can overshadow any positive results of your split. Here are some tips I give couples who come to me seeking support about the end of their relationships:

  • Decide ahead of time what details you feel comfortable sharing, in what time frame, and with whom.
  • Talk to your most important people first. Talk to your children and reassure them that it isn't their fault, there is nothing for them to fix or worry about, and that your love for them won't change.
  • Agree ahead of time to resist the urge to encourage friends and family to take a side. This is particularly important when children are involved in the separation.

While we are all wrestling with the disappointment of the dissolution of Jenna and Channing's marriage we must give them props for the incredible amount of grace, kindness, and dedication they continue to demonstrate toward one another. Above all else, they now serve as an example of a happily separated couple who is utterly dedicated and unified to raising their precious daughter, Everly.