A few weeks ago, Erica Campbell appeared on “The Tamron Hall Show.” She was discussing her book More Than Pretty, which is about doing the soul work required to possess inner beauty. As you might assume, it includes several stories from her personal life, including how she and her husband, Warryn Campbell, overcame his extramarital affair.
From the way Erica explained the situation, Tamron seemed to think that Erica was blaming herself for Warryn’s indiscretions. But Warryn wasn’t there to speak to what was happening to him at the time.
Recently, we had the chance to speak to Warryn about quite a few things, including his latest project from his record label My Block—more on that later—colorism, and his version of the infidelity that tested their marriage.
MN: Erica was recently on “The Tamron Hall Show.” And you all have spoken a little bit about your marriage and—
Warryn: And I saw Tamron right after the show.
MN: So you were there?
Warryn: No, no. We were at Tyler Perry’s thing. She’s like, ‘I know we had Erica but we got to have you so you can tell your side.’ I was like, ‘I don’t have a side. Her side is the side.’
MN: But I was going to ask you that because Tamron asked Erica if she was blaming herself for what happened in your marriage. Erica was saying that she was focused on work.
Warryn: Nah, nah. She wasn’t blaming herself. She was just stating what it was. I got engaged at 23, I shouldn’t have been doing that. I wasn’t ready. I just knew I loved her so much. And my wife is four years older than me.
MN: So, she was more ready…
Warryn: Yeah but the Bible says he that finds a wife, finds a good thing. I knew she wasn’t a girlfriend. When I met her she was a wife already. It doesn’t say he who finds a girlfriend, it says he who finds a wife. When I met her, she was already wife material. She functioned and moved like a wife and I knew that. I was like ‘Ima lose her. She’s not a permanent girlfriend. So I said, ‘Ima marry her even though I know I’m not ready. I know I got all this extra baggage. I know I got all this sexual inventory. I know I got all this stuff. But I’ll be fine if I get married and just settle down.’ What you don’t know is I told my father, ‘Da, I’m going to ask Erica to marry me.’ He said, ‘Okay…I told you, you would know. Now, that’s a woman right there. Let me tell you another thing. When I met your momma, I was a virgin. I don’t know nobody else. We’ve only been with each other. Now you, you don’t have the same testimony. I’ve seen all these women coming in and out. There’s no gene that’s going to transfer from me to you that’s going to cause you to be faithful. It’s going to be hard for you.
I was like, ‘Yeah, whatever.’ I didn’t take his advice. What I should have done was take the time, however long that took, a year or two years, to detach myself from every other female I’d known or other conversations. Because when you don’t do that, it’s very difficult. Especially, at 23 I’m a multimillionaire. I got paper. The girls hear I’m engaged to this girl who’s all over tv, so they’re like, ‘He must really got it crackin’.’ Them actresses and them R&B singers they all calling now, trying to holler at you. It’s like, ‘Oh man, what do I do?’ I’m 23. I’m like, ‘I can play both sides. I can figure this out.’
So about three years into the marriage, I just broke one day and I told her, ‘I been messing up.’ And the first thing she told me was, ‘I’m mad but I’m not leaving.’ I was like, ‘Yo, this is crazy.’ I was sure it was over. I was positive.
MN: But you still felt the need to tell? Because a lot of people will think, ‘Well, if you’re going to stop, you don’t have to say.’
Warryn: Nah. I felt like I just didn’t want no other female to have anything on her. She gon walk in a room and some other female be like, ‘Yeah I…’ I don’t need her to be embarrassed. And I don’t want her to find out from nobody else but me and I’m going to control this narrative. Nobody ain’t gon make me say what I don’t want to say. I’m going to do it my way. And that’s what happened. In that moment, she said I’m not leaving but it took her a year and a half to say, ‘I’m not mad at all anymore. I forgive you.’ We were in a studio session. I was working and she just happened to be in there. She just tapped me and said, ‘I’m not even mad no more. I forgive you.’ I was in somebody else’s session, I just started crying. I was like, ‘Wait a minute man, they gon see me crying…’
MN: Can you talk about the work that you all did to get to that point? The stories we hear—and for women it’s very frustrating— are he cheated. I forgive him. We’re good.
Warryn: No. It was a lot of work. Ther-a-py. Marriage therapy, marriage counseling was a huge key. That and also, even my pastor at the time, he made me—this is crazy when I even think about it. He made me, my wife, and one of the women at the time, we all sat, in a room together, with him and we all talked. Hardest thing I ever did. Because these two women that I been with, one woman is my wife. We have a daughter. My daughter, she’s 15 now, but at the time, she was maybe 8 months. And this other woman who had gotten pregnant [but didn’t have the baby] he sat us all down in the room and I just had to take it. I had to first apologize to everybody. I could have handled this in a completely different matter.
What happened was, my wife was on the road so much, after a while I just felt like I was missing her. So, I said, ‘I need you to come home.’ Now, in my line of work, I’m the boss. I could have got on the plane and went wherever she was. She had contracts for two years. So she had to be at these places. She’s already taken money. She can’t just come home. But my arrogance said, ‘No, I want you to come home.’ And since you ain’t coming home, I’ma go do this.
So, I could have handled my insecurity, my needs whatever a completely different way. We went through that whole thing. We did premarital counseling so we went back to her and she just helped us walk through it. We had to be very honest. And my Bishop said one key thing. ‘What I need you to do is to ask yourself why you did that. Don’t answer it now, think about it. Take some time to figure out why you did that. Because if you don’t know why you did it, you’re just going to do it again.
Then he had a towel in his hand, this was the coldest thing. He had a little hand towel in his hand. And this was before I even told my wife because he found out about it before. He called me in his office, he said, ‘So, what do you have to tell me?’ I said, ‘What are you talking about? Tell you what?’ Then he got serious, ‘What do you have to tell me?’ And I was like, ‘Really, we’re about to do this now?’ So we had the conversation. He had a towel in his hand and he said, ‘We gon get through this. The devil is a lie. We getting through this.’ He said, ‘It’s not about whether you’re going to get through it…’ then he starts pulling the towel, the towel is handing and he starts pulling it through his [fist]. ‘It’s about whether or not you can endure the squeeze. Because you’re going to be squeezed all around. You’re going to be thinking people talking about you all through the church. They might not be, they might be. You’re going to feel a squeeze. If you can endure the squeeze, you’re going to make it through.’
And so I had to endure the squeeze and take it. It’s my responsibility. It ain’t on her. It was my decision. I did it. I was the selfish person. You can say she’s taking the blame. She’s not. She’s just acknowledging some of the root of it.
MN: The circumstances around it.
Warryn: Yeah. That’s it. That’s all I have to say about that.