Ryann McCracken went into The Ultimatum: Marry or Move On hoping to get her partner to propose to her, but she ended up finding newfound confidence in herself — so much so that by the end, she felt comfortable leaving the experience alone. McCracken gave the ultimatum to her high school sweetheart of six years, James Morris, who said he wanted to be more financially stable before he tied the knot. While Morris struggled in his trial marriage with Jeriah “Riah” Nelson, McCracken and her new partner Treyvon “Trey” Brunson thrived. Even McCracken’s family noticed a more open and vulnerable person as she spent more time with Brunson and discovered how to live her adult life without Morris. Though McCracken ultimately accepted Morris’s marriage proposal and the two are planning a wedding, she found new self-confidence, in and outside a relationship. McCracken spoke with Vulture about her partnership with Morris post-ultimatum, her family’s reaction to Brunson, and how she knew he developed feelings for her.
This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.
You and James were high school sweethearts — what went into the decision to go on the show together?
I got a message about the show and we had been in the spot where we were waiting to take this next step of marriage. We weren’t sure when it was gonna happen, or at least I wasn’t sure when it was gonna happen. When casting reached out to us, it was perfect timing. I said, “I think it would be a good idea for us to do this.”
What is it about James that made you feel like this was a risk worth taking with him?
I’ve always felt like James was the guy I was gonna marry and spend the rest of my life with. I knew he was the one I’d want to take on the show and make sure he was just as ready as I was.
James reveals to Riah that he had cheated in the past. Did the reminder of the incident affect your final decision to accept his proposal?
Going into the final decisions, I was going over our entire relationship and I did factor that into it. It was something that happened a really long time ago, so I had already moved past that.
What is your life like now with James?
Since the show ended, I feel like I came back with a whole new James. He’s the same good guy he’s always been, but I feel like he lifted this weight off his shoulders that made him ready to dive into the marriage. He forgot about all the past traumas he’s experienced and he was ready to move forward and work on our relationship.
Did you and Riah discuss her trial marriage with James?
Riah did talk about her experience with James to me and said she felt she didn’t get the most of the experience. I understood why she felt that way because going into the trial marriage, James was not emotionally there. I could see on the show that he wasn’t the best trial husband.
How did you and James differ in your mindset going into the trial marriages?
I was ready to go in and try to build a relationship and get to know Trey. I feel like that was originally [James’s] plan, but somewhere along the way, that changed for him. I don’t feel like he was participating as much as I was.
You and Trey were the most compatible out of all the trial marriages. What was one quality you loved about Trey?
It’s hard to pick one because Trey was such a great guy. Whoever he’s around, he’s always going to put them in front of himself. He’s gonna make sure you’re good. He was constantly asking me, “Are you okay? You need anything?”
What was your initial reaction to Trey confessing his feelings for you?
I could tell, so I was expecting it because we were both growing this bond. You can just tell when you get those vibes. You’re getting along really well, you’re having a great time and you care about what that person’s doing.
When you and Trey got lunch with your brother, Reed, and soon-to-be sister in law Caroline, they noticed a big change in your confidence. What were the discussions with your family like after that meeting?
After my family met Trey, they thought he was a good guy, really nice and sweet. When we left, they didn’t know how things were going to end. They were genuinely like, “We don’t know which way she’s gonna go.”
How did you feel when they said they felt like they met a whole new Ryann?
Caroline and Reed both said that because normally I’ve always been kind of shy and timid and not very talkative. In that setting, I felt relaxed and happy and they saw a side of me that they don’t usually see.
I loved when you said you knew you’d be okay without James if there was a breakup. Was there a specific moment when that became true for you?
The meeting with my brother and Caroline is around when I came to the conclusion. I love James, and I really like Trey, but if it would make me truly happy to leave here by myself, I would be okay with doing that.
How did you mourn the end of your trial marriage with Trey, especially since you haven’t had much communication with him since the show ended?
It was really hard after, switching back and cutting all communication. You spent so long getting to know this person, then to just not talk to them at all was hard. It was a weird switch. There’s even a clip of me telling James that me and Trey would wear matching outfits on our dates. James was like, “Why are you telling me that?” I just spent three weeks in my life with this person. It would be kind of weird for me to reach out and talk to Trey after the whole situation because I knew Riah wouldn’t really appreciate that — if I were in her shoes, I definitely wouldn’t either.
The reunion showed a “James After Dark” segment that talked about your sex life with him. How did it feel to have that part included in the reunion, since the season focused on your relationship as high school sweethearts?
That little clip was very embarrassing to me because I don’t usually talk about my sex life very openly. I’m thinking about my family seeing that and it was awkward. It’s healthy to talk about sex and if my immediate family wasn’t seeing it, I’d be fine.
How has James adjusted to living with your family?
Weirdly it’s been a good thing that James is here with my family because he’s experiencing this lifestyle he never had before. It’s helping him to understand me, and why I am the way I am. It’s been really nice.