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Vulnerability Begets Vulnerability

I’m not sure I want the couple we’re working with to know about our latest conflict. Do I need to share it to be authentic with them? In other words, just how transparent should we be with them about our personal struggles?

We often say that vulnerability begets vulnerability. In other words, if you are vulnerable, they are far more likely to be vulnerable – but only to a point. If you disclose too much about yourselves and your relationships, you lose credibility. The mentoring sessions will seem to be more about you than about them. So, you should only be “appropriately vulnerable.”

What does this mean? Well, to begin with, you don’t need to share your latest conflict with them. And you don’t need to tell them that your sex life is in sad shape. Anything like this will either leave them feeling sorry for you, or cause them to discount your desire to really help them.

So an easy rule of thumb is to keep your “vulnerability” to stories from your marriage that have a bit of resolution to them. For example, you might disclose that you had a terrible fight on your honeymoon but you can now look back on it and enjoy a good laugh over it.

Another rule of thumb is to make sure you don’t disclose something that would cause your spouse to feel uncomfortable. If your husband has never felt competent as a financial manager of your household and feels a bit ashamed because of that, by all means, do not bring this up with your mentorees unless your husband initiates it with them.

Also, keep in mind that your mentorees have a built-in radar detector for phoniness. That is, they will know if you two are currently mad at each other. So if you are coming into a session with a bunch of loose ends and you know you won’t be fully present with them because of that, then postpone your session. If on the other hand, you just had a little tiff that you know did not seriously jostle your marriage, then feel free to share it (as long as your spouse agrees). That kind of vulnerability will endear you to your couple and will provide them with a healthy role model as they see how you are copying effectively with something that they might encounter.

In summary, vulnerability begets vulnerability – but only to a point. The key is to be appropriate with what you share and never let the spotlight stay on the two of you too long. Keep your mentoree couple on the main stage.

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