After admitting to cheating on Williams while she was pregnant with their first child — daughter Pilar Jhena, who was born in March — the hot dog restaurant owner has been working to rebuild trust with Williams, going to couples therapy sessions and slowly proving his loyalty to her.
His actions (and many romantic gestures) finally paid off on last week’s episode, when Williams agreed to marry him again when McKinley re-proposing to her with the same engagement ring. But before she was ready to cheer, McKinley had to do something first: apologize to her sister, Lauren, and her mother, Diane.
“Dennis sitting down with my mom and my sister is a chance for him to really put his money where his mouth is,” Williams explained to viewers. “This is a time to look them in the eyes and let them know he understands what he did to his family.”
“He needs to have an opportunity to take full accountability,” she added, telling McKinley, “You are doing very good, we are on the right track, but it still doesn’t change the fact that you caused this. Just remember that.”
The apology was especially necessary for Diane and Lauren, who had blocked McKinley’s number after learning about his infidelity. “Lauren [was the most on guard],” Williams explained. “She feels like, ‘My sister loves you but you cheated on her while she was pregnant.’ That to her is something she wants him to understand is so serious and cannot happen again.”
So how did McKinley do? He began on the right path, by owning up to what he did.
“We really couldn’t get to this point without y’all helping with PJ so I really appreciate that,” McKinley said. “Porsha has been through some rough times in the last two months, dealing with my infidelity and I just want to apologize to everybody. We got a lot more work to do but we are family so I think, at the end of the day, I think it’s very important we make a commitment to stick by each other during the downs and root for each other during the ups. Because the ups are easy.”
That humility nearly took a wrong turn, when McKinley questioned Lauren and Diane about why he had been blocked — claiming they took things “too far.”
Williams quickly set McKinley straight. “You understand why those decisions were made. Because the elephant in the room is you,” Williams said. “You had done something to the family. You had done something to me, period. You do understand that the line was naturally drawn because at a point of time we didn’t even think that you and I would get back together. So why would my family be still reaching out to you at a point in time where they really had to hold me up?”
That opened the door for Lauren and Diane to weigh in as both laid into McKinley with Lauren pointing out her own experiences with unfaithfulness in a relationship.
“I told you about my issues with [my daughter’s] dad and how hurtful it is for me to have to be a single mom,” Lauren said. “How could you do that to her? I felt like you knew better.”
Added Diane: “I did not wait all these years for my daughter to be a baby mama. And when all this happened, it just felt like here I thought she had found Mr. Right and now they’re broke up so now she’s joining the rest of us in the statistics. I didn’t want to speak to you because I was hurt, that’s all.”
From there, Williams decided to voice her frustrations to McKinley’s mother, Gina, who was also at the family meeting.
“Your mom didn’t call me. I felt like I should have gotten a different type of support as well,” Williams said, telling Gina, “To me, that don’t feel like family. That feels like you were his mom and that is it and you were taking his side.”
“When I’ve been in the wrong. Mama Gina has been very swift about coming in and letting me know I’m wrong,” Williams told audiences. “So I just would have felt like in a situation like this, where Dennis had wronged me, she would jump in and let him know what he’s done wrong as well. Because his mom was just as invested as my mom was.”
Mama Gina was quick to apologize to Williams.
“We all were taken away by how this occurred,” she said. “After hearing the entire story, I fussed at him every day. I wanted him to understand the repercussion of what had been done, at the same time, I didn’t know where to step in at.”
Her apology helped Williams. And in the end, everyone appeared to agree to work together towards forgiveness.
“I think we at a point now where we are figuring things out,” McKinley said. “Today is about an olive branch that I’m extending to fix this family.”
And Diane agreed. “When it’s a real true family and a true man like yourself, you see how it affects people who you think it didn’t even affect. And I appreciate the fact that you two didn’t just bum back together and act like nothing happened because something did happen,” she said. “If you’re not ready to be a family man, it don’t mean nothing. That’s why I want you to go to counseling, because we want you all to build a good foundation that you skipped over in the beginning.”
“I think y’all are doing what you need to do to get in the right place,” Lauren added. “And if one of you gives up, then it’s just over.”
Ultimately, Williams was happy.
“Us putting our relationship back together after this is going to be, and is, the hardest thing we’ve ever done, she said. ” But we’ve got engaged, we got told we were pregnant together, we had this pregnancy together. He’s like my best friend and I just had to trust and believe what my heart felt and.. you know, I just keep saying, it’s a work in progress. And I’m going to trust that he’s going to keep putting his actions forward.”
“Dennis showing me that my family’s feelings is important,” she added. “I just never had anybody care enough how my mom felt and care about how my sister felt to want to sit them down and apologize. That is the reason why I’m committed to trying to trust him again and wanting to work this out.”
The Real Housewives of Atlanta airs Sundays (8 p.m. ET) on Bravo.