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Got Vulnerability?

Couple talkingFeeling and showing vulnerability is generally as popular as eating liver. The consensus is to steer clear of it. Expressing vulnerability involves risking feeling embarrassed or ashamed, as well as the risk of being ridiculed, judged and/or rejected. Contrary to the widespread view that vulnerability is an indication of weakness, appropriate self-disclosure requires discernment, courage and generosity. Transparency has actually become increasingly in vogue with growth-oriented people and on the professional speaking circuit.

As a relationship coach, I want to focus in this blog post on vulnerability with one’s partner. Like virtually everything in life, vulnerable disclosure in a love relationship has its pros and cons or trade-offs.

Ruth and Jim SharonSharing your deep needs, feelings or upsets, especially with strong presence to yourself and mate, can be a very viable form of emotional intimacy and a means of garnering support from your partner. Revealing tender feelings and concerns to one another has brought my wife Ruth and I very close over the years. Conversely, during periods of less openness, we’ve both felt varying degrees of distance from each other. Also, contrary to common parlance, we, like most couples who risk a lot of mutual self-disclosure, have experienced a definite sense of strength and freedom from doing so. Vulnerable expression works best when both partners are empathic, but avoid relating sympathy/pity or rushing to offer solutions. Each person needs to maintain his/her individuality in the relationship.

Codependence represents a major downside or caveat regarding emotional expression. The most flagrant forms of codependence involve repeatedly seeking validation from your mate and continually matching each other’s moods. Vulnerability is clearly derailed by emotional manipulation and defensive reactivity. Another trap, which Ruth and I sometimes fell prey to during the first decade of our marriage, is dissecting or overprocessing feelings–discussing them ad nausea. Doing so tends to be tedious and proves a diversion from genuine presence and action.

In essence, sincere, reciprocal transparency with one’s partner can be refreshing and reassuring and certainly can add color, dimension/depth and richness to the relationship.

Your relationship coach,
Jim Sharon

Jim SharonJim Sharon, Ed.D., a licensed psychologist in private practice, has served as a counselor for over 40 years. He attained his life coach certification in 2001 and has received additional training in spiritual direction. Since 2014, he and his wife, Ruth, have specialized in coaching committed, devoted couples to significantly enhance their relationship. Jim and Ruth were voted best relationship coaches in Colorado in 2015 and 2016. Jim has previously served as a business and agency consultant, presented at state and national psychological conferences and has appeared on many radio and TV shows. He is the author of two books and many professional articles.

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