OWN’s latest reality TV show Family Or Fiancé focuses on couples who are headed down the aisle but are having a hard time getting their family’s approval. The future newlyweds are paired in a home with their loved ones and Tracy McMillan, a relationship expert who challenges the couples to find middle ground before their wedding day.
You may know Tracy through her work. She penned a viral article seven years ago titled “Why You’re Not Married” that solidified her as an expert.
We caught up with Tracy ahead of the premiere and she gave us some insight, tips and advice on relationships.
HelloBeautiful: Tell us about Family Or Fiancé?
Tracy McMillan: These couples are amazing and you may not relate to every couple’s journey, but you’re going to relate to somebody in that family because you’ve been on one side of this before. You’ve either been the person where your family is not really down with BAE or you’ve been the person.
HB: What were some of the exercises you did with the couples?
TM: I meet with them every morning and I give them things to do that first of all are going to help. Like let’s say the couples haven’t met the parents, well this is going to be an icebreaker activity or an activity that’s going to show the parents something related to what their concerns are. One of the things that we do quite often on the show is play 20 questions. he family members will write down the questions that they want to know the answers to and then the other person has to answer it. And it’s anything from ‘have you been faithful’ to ‘what would you do if the baby mama came for some child support and that part of that was your money?’
HB: What can the everyday couple do as an exercise?
TM: We’ll have the mom and the new daughter-in-law cook a meal together. When you have to cooperate with somebody, you find out really quickly whether that person is kind of really openhearted toward you or is this just like a lot of power struggle?
HB: Which family member is the most problematic?
TM: Mama is the most committed to a point of view. She’s the least likely to just go, ‘okay, it’s fine.’ She’s not just going to go along with something. She has a strong feeling, she becomes mama bear. You know? So it’s not that she’s a problematic, it’s that she her feelings on the strongest, she got the biggest investment.
HB: You went viral for your piece “Why You’re Not Married,” what was the story about?
TM: Marriage is a spiritual path and if your focus is on getting something you want or you’re going to get a big wedding or you’re going to get a white dress and like marriage isn’t really going to change your life, you’re just going to be you at twice as much laundry in that it’s really about giving and receiving love.
HB: What are some common problems that you see in relationships?
TM: They don’t understand that relationships are challenging. People are like, wait, what? Why should I have these problems? This is a place where you practice loving. It’s not a place where you go to feel good and get what you want. That’s not why that other person is in that relationship to give you what you want and make you feel good. So a lot of times when people, when it stops feeling good after like the first nine months or a year, then like, yeah, I don’t think this is working. In fact, it’s, it’s working to grow you up that cause that’s what it, that’s what a relationship is all about. It’s about growing as a human.
HB: What advice do you give couples coming off the honeymoon phase?
TM: The thing about coming out of the honeymoon phase is first of all, to know when you’re in one and that it’s going to end. So even when you’re in it, you got to know it’s going to end. So when it ends, it’s like coming up and moving. So I brought out the airport and so it’s not like, oh shit, what just happened? It’s more like, I know it’s going to be a very different pace than this first part. It’s not going to be as easy. Relationships bring up every unresolved thing. And that starts to happen right after the honeymoon phase. So whatever you’ve got going on, whatever you brought in from childhood, it’s going to get triggered, it’s going to get triggered and then you’re going to get to deal with that.
Catch Tracy McMillan on Family Or Fiancé on OWN every Saturday night at 10pm EST.