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Surviving Infidelity: 5 Accountability Steps to Save Your Marriage After an Affair
by Christine Racheal
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July 28, 2019

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Surviving Infidelity: 5 Accountability Steps to Save Your Marriage After an Affair

Warryn and Erica Campbell open up about surviving infidelity and the steps it took to rebuild their marriage at the 2019 Black Love Summit.  

Surviving infidelity is possible. It may be a long and windy road to the other side, but there can be light after betrayal, and Warryn and Erica Campbell are a beautiful example of just that. 

The couple, who have been married for 18 years, joined the 2019 Black Love Summit and shared wisdom on how they revived their marriage after infidelity by creating their own relationship “defibrillator.” Here are five takeaways from their honest conversation that helped them heal their wounds and rebuild their relationship — together. 

Be accountable for your actions.

After discovering Warryn’s tryst with another woman, Erica says that he took full responsibility for his role in the affair. She shared how he became more accountable to her about the places he went and who he would befriend, which she said made her feel more comfortable in the wake of heartbreak. 

When asked if he ever blamed Erica for his shortcomings, Warryn said, “No.”

“She didn’t make me do anything. She didn’t put a gun to my head and make me step outside my marriage. I’m a man. I do what I want to do. I got to own that,” he admitted. 

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Warryn added that “men need a safe place to come home and fall apart — to say we’ve been tempted.” While it may be a woman’s responsibility to create that “safe place” for men, it’s just as important for men to create the same space for women. (Yes, men. Women are tempted too.) There’s an accountability aspect for both parties to safeguard the marriage against secrecy, which can be a trap that leads to unfaithfulness. 

Know your “why.”

Warryn insisted that couples should never forget their why. “Once I figured out why I wanted to marry her, an awakening happened within myself,” he shared.

When situations within your relationship flare-up, return to the reason you chose to love them. Because Erica had clearly discovered her why, she could see beyond Warryn’s betrayal. Her love for him ran deeper than the wrongdoing that, he admitted, could have “derailed [his] entire family.” She said, “I think he made a mistake; I don’t think he was a mistake.” The ability for her to differentiate between the two was key to accessing the grace she needed to forgive and remain in the relationship. 

“I had to figure out who I am, and why? I messed up, and she’s still here — why?”— Warryn Campbell  

Warryn continued to explain that in spite of lingering frustrations, he recognized that God had ordained his marriage to Erica, and he was certain that there was something she possessed that he needed to accomplish his purpose. And likewise, there was something that he possessed that equipped Erica for her life’s purpose. 

Understanding your why is imperative to prevent recurring incidents. “If you don’t understand why you did it, you will do it again,” Warren insisted. Discovering why you made the decision to step outside of marriage is instrumental to becoming accountable for your actions. 

Credit: @insurgovisuals

Give your partner grace.

There is nothing like a transparent woman who isn’t afraid to pluck a bone from her closet for the sake of other people’s healing. Erica admitted that infidelity wasn’t a new topic within her relationship and revealed that prior to exchanging marriage vows, she stepped outside of her relationship with Warryn. The couple ultimately made it to the altar, and this shows that forgiveness has to happen on both sides.

“He kept showing up and that meant something to me. How dare I be a hypocrite, when he forgave me, and not extend the same to him,” Erica shared.

Love wins when you allow it. Grant your partner the grace you would also need to overcome obstacles in order to reach your forever. 

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In addition, Warryn created a safe space for Erica to heal. “He let me get mad. My language shifted for a few months, but he knew that he had done it to me,” she said as she described the season when she was overcome by the “spirit of cuss.” 

Conflict has a way of taking a person completely out of character — and the deeper the conflict, the longer and more out of character a person may become. It is unrealistic to expect Suzy Homemaker in the wake of a catastrophe. Allow the betrayed partner room to reflect and rediscover their love for you. It’s there — just buried beneath the pain. This ache requires more than a band-aid, it requires healing from the inside out, and it takes time.  

Be careful with the tongue. 

In the midst of drama and frustration, it’s easy to lash out and just as easy to latch on to a listening ear. While it is necessary to vent and release the built-up tension, always be mindful of what you speak. 

“Be careful what you speak over your relationship. You give life to what you speak,” Erica said. 

The self-fulfilling prophecy is quite easy to understand: you speak your fears and then focus on them until one day they come to past. Saying “He will never get it together,” delivers a man who will never get it together. Saying, “I’m going to wind up alone,” finds you alone. And at all costs, avoid using the “D” word—especially if you’re not speaking directly to your spouse. 

Never stop discovering each other, and refresh your marriage vows. 

Take notice of your partner’s desirable qualities. Seek to discover something new about them. After 23 years together, Warryn recently noticed a new crease in Erica’s calf muscle and was elated. It may sound strange to someone who doesn’t understand the rarity of identifying something new after so many years, but Warryn believes that intentionally identifying new physical or character traits increases the chances of longevity. 

In addition, Erica was adamant about the need for couples to recommit to each other regularly by conducting couple check-ins. “We need to refresh and ask questions. Are you happy? Do you still love me? Do you want me to be more freaky?” It is imperative to consult with your spouse about their level of satisfaction and not make assumptions about the condition of your relationship. You may be in for a surprise when they share their perspective, but it is better to know and address it than to never know that a void existed. A person who truly loves you will be honest about ways you can be better for them. 

Before you prematurely pull the plug on your relationship, try some of the strategies that led the Campbell’s to achieve 18 years of marriage. 

“It got worse before it got better,” Erica shared, but it did get BETTER. In the aftermath of infidelity, understand that you must rebuild the trust and rekindle the intimacy. Be willing to crawl before you walk, but know that it is possible to run again. Be sure to check out more stories from the 2019 Black Love Summit here, and tune in to season 3 of Black Love, premiering on OWN Saturday, August 10 at 9 p.m. ET/PT.

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