Family or Fiancé? Relationship Expert Tracy McMillan Discusses Just How Much Family Factors into a Relationship

Family or Fiancé
Family or Fiancé
Photo: Courtesy of OWN: Oprah Winfrey Network

Imagine nearing the real-life version of that movie moment when someone always manages to stop the wedding during the “speak now or forever hold your piece” bit. Except you have to try avoid that moment with the help of a relationship expert while broadcast on a huge network owned by a media mogul.


That relationship expert is Tracy McMillan and the network is OWN: Oprah Winfrey Network. The show? Family or Fiancé.

From a press release via OWN:

The eight-episode series follows the dynamic between eight engaged couples who bring their disapproving families together for three days under one roof, some for the first time. The clock is ticking as the couples must decide if they’re going to tie the knot or if the nuptial hopes end there. It’s a no-holds-barred look at what it’s really like when the people closest to you have major issues with the one you want to marry. At the end of the final day, families are given the chance to speak now or forever hold their peace, leaving each couple to decide once and for all if they’re truly ready to say, “I do.”

Family or Fiancé trailer / OWN: Oprah Winfrey Network (YouTube)

One particular clip seemed to pique everyone’s interest on social media, featuring engaged couple Keron and Ashley in an explosively messy episode tackling sexual identity, religion, and unfinished business with the ex.

If you haven’t seen the show yet, you need to—especially this episode:

The “Ashley and Keron: The Devil’s In The Details” episode aired on Saturday March 16, but OWN invited a select few journalists to their studio (inside the adorably named Magical Cafe) to view an advanced screening of the episode on Thursday, March 14 while eating chicken and vegetables that I refuse to believe are from anywhere than Oprah’s garden.

The number one thing to a successful marriage is mutuality,” McMillan said firmly, following the screening. “It’s got to be two people who each want it. I also think a very key thing is that when you get married, your partner becomes your primary attachment figure.”


Since the show is centered around choosing between your future life partner and the family you were born into, McMillan also touched on the importance of the two different families getting along to form what would (hopefully) become a cohesive unit once the two lovebirds jump over that historic broom.

“As far as the families concerned, I think families are actually hugely important because what you want is a secure functioning family system [which] means you’re planted in a place where there’s a lot of stability,” she added. “So there’s eight episodes, eight different couples—when you have a solid family that you can rely upon, whether it’s your family or the partner’s family, that’s a huge resource [as] they can help you stabilize and help you grow your relationship. So, it’s not a deal breaker if they don’t have a great family, but if they do, it’s a tremendous resource.”


But, not all of us are choosing between family or fiancé(e); when it comes to love, maybe our biggest choice resides in the factory of photos housed in the latest dating app. Naturally, since the famed author of the 2011 viral blog post, “Why You’re Not Married,” was in the building, our femme-dominated group asked her for relationship advice. The standout question: Why am I perpetually single?

“I would say the main reason people are perpetually single is that they have a fear of intimacy,” noted McMillan, who shared an apt analogy where intimacy resides at the bottom of the ocean, while traits like defensiveness (i.e. putting up that figurative wall) are at the top of the ocean. “That’s really what it is. We’re afraid to be close.”


Wow, read us, Tracy.

Family or Fiancé airs every Saturday on OWN at 10 p.m. ET / PT. The season finale will air on Saturday, April 27 at 10 p.m. ET /PT.



I... just read the Tracy McMillan HuffPost piece and I’m just...WOW. Don’t you just love it when people who have been “married three times” dish out relationship advice? Because, lady, you have not only been married three times. You are three times divorced. I’m not surprised, giving that her piece manages to tear down both men and women. So men just want mac ‘n’ cheese and someone to do their laundry who’s also “nice” to them? So among the likely reasons why women are single, she states “being a slut” or a “liar”? Wow. Just wow.

In regards to this show, from what I’ve seen among friends and experienced myself, most often when the family doesn’t like their child’s partner it’s because the partner fosters independence from a toxic family of origin.