Channing Tatum and Jenna Dewan's romance: Where did it go wrong?

Taryn Ryder
Writer, Yahoo Entertainment
Channing Tatum and Jenna Dewan Tatum attend the premiere of “War Dog: A Soldier’s Best Friend” at the Directors Guild awards on Nov. 6, 2017, in Los Angeles. (Photo: Getty Images)

Channing Tatum and Jenna Dewan-Tatum announced on Monday that they have “lovingly chosen to separate” after nearly nine years of marriage. It’s a split that has taken fans by surprise and is considered to be on the more shocking end of the celebrity breakup spectrum.

Or is it?

People reports that the couple has been separated for months and that their separation has been “a long time coming,” according to one insider. So where did it all go wrong? From the outside, it looked as if the fun-loving couple had it all: a beautiful family, successful careers, and great chemistry.

The pair met on the 2006 film Step Up, and according to Jenna, it was Channing who made the first move.

“[Channing] had gone out with all the dancers on Step Up, and he had this crazy, wild tequila night,” she recalled to Ellen DeGeneres. “He said he had the chance ‘to be free’ and he couldn’t stop thinking about me. So he comes down to my hotel room at 2 in the morning, and he’s banging on the door, and I’m like, ‘What’s going on?’ So I go and open the door, and he’s in a sombrero, underwear, Ugg boots, and he’s like, ‘Let’s do this.’”

However, Channing later revealed it was his better half who knew he was “the one” first — stripper past and all. (The actor admitted he told Jenna about his former job during one of their first dinners.)

“Our connection was really powerful, but I wasn’t sure what our relationship was going to be,” he told Cosmopolitan. Clearly, that changed. “One day, Jenna just blurted out that she knew exactly what she wanted in life and she didn’t have to look for it anymore because it was me.”

He added, “She had no idea what I’d say or how I’d react, but that was her truth. … It was the sexiest thing she’d ever done for me. I felt strength, because in that moment, she had accepted every part of me, the good and the bad. That radical authenticity of hers was what made me fall head over heels in love.”

Channing and Jenna in “Step Up.” (Photo: Everett Collection)

The co-stars eventually tied the knot in July 2009 in Malibu. Dewan’s bridal party included maid of honor and Entourage star Emmanuelle Chriqui and bridesmaid Haylie Duff. Marlon Wayans was one of the 220 guests in attendance.

The Tatums continued to find success in Hollywood, with Jenna landing TV roles (The Playboy Club, American Horror Story) and Channing focusing on film. But in 2012, his career was catapulted to the next level with box-office hits like The Vow, 21 Jump Street, and Magic Mike, and he was on his way to becoming one of the most in-demand actors in Hollywood. He was also crowned People magazine’s 2012 Sexiest Man Alive. The actor talked to the magazine about how he and Jenna handled being apart with busy schedules.

“We’ve both been working a lot, which is awesome, but we have a two-week rule, three max,” he revealed. “I have a hard time actually seeing her on, like, FaceTime — it makes me miss her more, and I start pouting.”

Dewan was proud of her hubby’s sexiest-man honor, telling the magazine: “People know him to be fun and sexy, but they don’t know how emotionally deep and spiritually open he is. He is such an open-hearted person; what you see is what you get.”

The couple ended 2012 on a high note as Dewan was pregnant with their first child. Although Channing said he wanted to take a break from acting in 2013, his career didn’t slow down.

“You have to want it,” Channing told Cosmopolitan about how they made their relationship work. “Jenna’s and my thing is checking in with each other all the time, like, ‘On a scale from one to 10, how much do you love me right now?’ And you gotta be honest, and you’ve got to want an honest answer.” 

The pair welcomed daughter Everly in May 2013 in London, where Channing was filming Side Effects. After filming wrapped, it was the actor’s turn to take a pause and let his wife work, something she said he was happy to do. She started filming the Lifetime show Witches of East End in Vancouver months later.

“He is getting really good at being the set husband — that’s what I call him,” she told ET Canada. “He’s in the trailer, he’s rocking [Everly] to sleep, I’m running back and forth breastfeeding. … He’s been amazing — every chance he gets, he’s here. He’s like, ‘I could sit here and be set husband all day long. This is so fun!’”

Practically every interview so far with Channing or Jenna was upbeat and painted the picture of a perfect Hollywood couple. But in 2014, the actor got real in GQ, admitting his baby girl helped him cut back on his drinking.

“I probably drink too much, you know,” he admitted. “My wife, that’s what she bought into. … I’m probably a pretty high-functioning, I guess, you know, I would say, alcoholic, I guess.”

Tatum said he liked how booze slowed down his mind. “There’s probably a tendency to escape. I equate it to creativity, and I definitely equate it to having a good time.” He added that nothing makes you cut back like having a baby, adding that he wouldn’t drink for months on set. “Then, at the end of that movie,” he said, “it’s go time.”

Having a baby changed the actor in many ways. For one, he said he thought more about what projects to take on. “Is this worth taking time away from them? … Having a family and a little girl, it really makes things superclear,” he told People in 2015. “None of this is easy, but at the same time it’s everything I would have ever wanted.”

Of Jenna, he added, “We’re a good support system for each other. … We keep pushing each other to grow and be better. I don’t think I could do it any other way [than with her].”

What they were doing seemed to be working. In 2016, the couple celebrated their seventh wedding anniversary with sweet — and sexy — posts.

The Tatums always made it clear they had the sexy part of their relationship down. “I’ve always been a very sexual person,” Dewan told Cosmo. “Something about being a dancer connects you to your physical body. It’s primal, earthy, sexual energy by nature. You feel your body in a certain way. Channing is very much the same way. He’s very in tune with that.”

Last year, she also revealed that they didn’t schedule sex.

“We are not sex schedulers — not yet! Give us a couple more years. Maybe with child No. 2,” Dewan told Redbook. “There’s a beauty in being two busy people, because we get a lot of time to miss each other. To continue to miss someone after so many years is kind of a blessing in disguise.”

She continued, “I think all women should keep it exciting for themselves. People always ask, ‘Do you do anything to keep it fresh for your man?’ I hate that question. I’m like, ‘No. Why is it for your man? I do things to keep it fresh for myself.’ The lingerie I buy is not for him necessarily. It’s for us and for myself. If you feel sexy, then it’s good for you.”

During that 2017 interview, she cited communication as being their biggest relationship challenge. “You change when you’re together from 25 to 35. I think maybe in my early 20s, I might have tiptoed around issues or didn’t want to make too many waves,” she said. “Now it’s like, ‘This is how I’m feeling.’ You have to be OK with the other person becoming defensive, to let them be emotional and accept that it won’t be OK for a while.”

Perhaps this was the first sign the couple faced challenges behind closed doors. If many of the reports out there are to be believed, Channing and Jenna started drifting apart around this time last year. Still, you wouldn’t have known it as the pair attended various red carpet events throughout 2017 and had gushy social media posts.

Whispers of trouble in paradise didn’t ramp up until this year. “When people say ‘You guys have such a perfect life,’ I want to scream and tell them no one’s perfect,” Dewan told Health for its March cover story. “I think there are such things as great fits. It is a great fit as long as you are growing together, and I think up until this point we’ve really grown together. Even if one starts to grow, the other catches up and vice versa.”

Dewan attended the Vanity Fair Oscars party solo; however, she downplayed the evening as a girls’ night. The Tatums offset that with a family outing to the Kids’ Choice Awards this month, which marked Everly’s first public event.

They also put on a united front on social media.

That’s why it was surprising when, on Monday, the pair announced their separation themselves by posting matching joint statements on their social media accounts.

It hasn’t even been 24 hours, and there are multiple reports out there claiming to know what caused the split. Entertainment Tonight has sources pointing to Channing’s alleged flirting and Dewan’s supposed possessiveness as contributing factors. Meanwhile, Page Six claims it’s work commitments that drove them apart. Sounds like we won’t know whether these are all “alternative facts” unless the couple comments again.

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