Fans of the show were introduced to the attorney and her sarcastic, straight-edge husband during Season 13 of the Bravo series. But this year, Shane's "cold" and "dismissive" attitude has left his wife too scared to watch what cameras captured.
"I honestly haven't even really watched any of the full episodes. That's how difficult it is for me," she told TooFab. "I obviously know what's going on in the episodes just because Shane watches them, my sister watches them. I'm on social media, so I see clips and I see people talking about it, but it almost makes me nauseous to watch it. It's not easy. So sometimes it's just easier for me to just separate myself from it completely. It's hard, it really is."
"It was always hard for me to watch, even last year when Shane and I weren't really having issues like we are this year," she added. "I have a hard time just watching myself in general. Like, I can't stand my voice, I can't stand the faces I make. I guess I'm probably over-critical of myself. But this year, it was just much more personal because it's such a bird's-eye view into our life and marriage, and sometimes, you just don't wanna relive that. You're like, 'Been there, done that! It was bad then; I don't need to watch it again.'"
Coming back for her second season of the longest-standing Housewives franchise, Emily said she was more prepared logistically, but less prepared emotionally.
"I think going into a second season, obviously now you know what to expect as far as all aspects -- production, time commitments, all those kinds of things that you don't know going into the first one -- so I feel like I was more savvy just as far as logistics," she told us.
"But it was a rough time for me to go into filming because there was a lot going on between me and Shane and a lot of stress with him studying for the bar and not being around, and then me trying to take care of three little kids," she added. "And I was working at that time, too. So logistically, I knew what I was getting into, but emotionally and physically, it was more draining."
Emily explained she recently "took a sabbatical from work" to spend the summer with her three youngest children. The oldest two are from Shane's first marriage.
"The film schedule's hard, and we did a lot of traveling when we were filming," Emily said. "So I just kind of wanted to take the summer and just make it about them. And we did a lot of fun stuff together. We went to Hawaii together, we went to Ohio, we went to the zoo, we went to the beach a lot. I just made it about the kids this summer."
When we asked if her marriage had improved since filming, Emily said, "I would say things are definitely on the up-swing now." And she contributes that, in part, to the show itself.
"I think sometimes, maybe the best therapy is actually watching yourself back because I really feel like maybe Shane was not self-aware," she said. "And to him, he's like, 'Well, I didn't do anything wrong. I didn't call you names. I didn't yell at you.' But I don't think he grasped how dismissive or cold he could be until he was forced to watch himself. He's really put effort into being completely different, and I have to give him credit for that. Definitely."
Perhaps the biggest learning lesson for Shane was watching his first confessional air on Tuesday's episode. He grinned and chuckled when an off-camera producer asked him if he had missed Emily while he spent 10 days away from the house and cooped up in a hotel room, studying for the California bar exam.
"This is where the sarcasm comes in. Certainly I missed her!" Shane replied with a laughed. "If I tell you the truth, she's gonna be pissed, and at the same time, I don't wanna fib. I don't really cry myself to sleep because I miss my family. I just do what I gotta do. And I know that there's a time where it'll be done and I can come back home and I can be with my family and kids."
While Emily admitted the interview "doesn't look good at all by any means," she also believes her "very sarcastic" husband just has a "very dry personality." But after spending her first season "constantly defending" her man and marriage against online critics, she's turned a new leaf.
"This season, I just realized I can't argue with everyone, I can't fight with everyone," she told us. "At the end of the day, it's a show, and they only show a very small percentage of time in my home. No one's there 24/7. If I was watching the show and I only saw what was on the screen, I would think, 'He's a dick! She needs to leave him!' So I understand where people are coming from. Like, I get it. I understand why they have the opinions that they do, and I think they should be allowed to express those 'cause that's what makes it a good show. It ignites lots of really deep feelings in people."
"But at the end of the day," she added, "I know that there are other sides to him. They just aren't portrayed."
"The Real Housewives of Orange County" airs Tuesdays at 9 p.m. on Bravo.