Q&A What is Each Spouse's Role in Handling Triggers?


I was just reading the blog post Samuel wrote about triggers and this topic has come up for my husband and I after attending the EMS weekend. I have always known that I had triggers and I think that up until this weekend he knew but wanted to avoid them. He is far more aware of them now and we had a couples counseling session yesterday after returning home and I think we are till a bit unclear about what his role is in dealing with/managing/preventing my triggers and what is my role is dealing with/managing/preventing my triggers. I know that they are my emotional reactions to his behavior and to that extent, I see the emotional reaction to the trigger as mine to manage. I do not expect him to "make everything better" for me from an emotional perspective. But where we are struggling is to what extent does he change his behavior/habits/lifestyle to prevent the behaviors or situations that cause those triggers in the first place and to what extent do I need to process through the emotions and it just takes time for the trigger to go away?

For instance, his cell phone is a huge trigger for me. Every time it beeps with a text message or notification or reminder I am slammed with a reminder of his infidelity and when he then responds to a text message my anxiety skyrockets, especially if he does not share with me who the text was from. When he is surfing on Facebook my anxiety shoots up, because he conducted his relationship with AP#1 primarily via FB messenger. When he plays Words with Friends again I am in a panic because he met AP#2 through that app and conducted that relationship through that app and through regular text messages.

I can't expect him not to have a cell phone. He is a pastor and he uses his phone all day every day to communicate with members of the church and the community. So at what point am I supposed to just suck it up and deal with my own trauma response and get over it or does he have a role to create safety for me changing his phone habits so that the trigger is not so overwhelming?

This is not something that we really covered at the EMS weekend in any real depth and we would love some guidance to share with our therapist who is working hard with us to integrate what we are learning through AR.

Any thoughts you have would be greatly appreciated!



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Added to EMSO

Rick and Team,

Would it be possible to add this video, or the information therein, somewhere in the first 4 weeks of EMSO? While week 4 talks is about Triggers I too felt that the material didn't address this topic so directly. For me, I would have liked something like this in the first weeks when talking about creating safety for each other.