Saturday, July 21, 2012


Musings on Trust in Relationships

“Should I tell my would-be spouse everything about my past?”

“Should I share my sexual past with my soon-to-be spouse?”

“Should you tell your spouse about your ex?”

These are common questions which arise in the minds of young people and you can see so many about-to-be married youngsters asking similar questions to “agony aunts”.

Conventional wisdom says that the answer is: “Yes. It is best to be open and honest with your spouse. Be transparent and do not hide anything, for there should be no secrets between husband and wife.”

But, to my surprise I have seen some “agony aunts” advising that being totally honest may not always be desirable and it would be wise to hide your past affairs.”

I find this quite shocking. Trust is the bedrock of any relationship, especially a lifelong relationship like marriage – in fact, trust is the cement that bonds the marriage. Once trust is broken, the “cement” holding together the bonds will disintegrate and the marriage will collapse like a pack of cards. How can you build a marriage on the foundations of mistrust?

There is one more danger if you hide things and keep secrets from your spouse. You will forever live under the fear of being found out, and the “fear of being found out” is a terrible fear which causes great stress and can affect your health.

There is a Marathi Serial currently running on Zee TV Marathi called Tu Tithe Mee which depicts the dangers of hiding your past from your spouse. The story of Tu Tithe Mee portrays in dramatic fashion how a marriage can crumble once a husband unexpectedly finds out secrets about his wife’s past life that his wife has hidden from him – how the smallest seed of mistrust can amplify into a demon of suspicion and create huge distrust which can shake the foundations of marriage.

Why only marriage – trust is the essential ingredient in any successful relationship. Whether that relationship is between two people, between husband and wife, boyfriend and girlfriend, between friends, parents and children, relatives, neighbours, acquaintances, within a family, at the workplace, between boss and subordinate, between peers and colleagues, in project teams, in business and partnerships, in customer relationship management (CRM), in social community, in sports teams, between teachers and students, or between the citizens and the government, or a relationship in any facet of life. Trust is the element that allows the relationship to function effectively.

That is why it is sad to see “Trust Deficit” everywhere. People do not trust each other anymore. Yes, Humans do not implicitly trust each other now-a-days. You can see absolute and total trust only in canine-human relationships – yes, dogs unconditionally trust their human masters and vice versa too.

How can we reduce trust deficit? How can we enhance mutual trust?

Well, there is a management tool called JOHARI WINDOW which can help. 

The concept of the Johari Window is relatively simple. 

Assume that you are the wife (self).

There are things about yourself that you know and there are things about yourself that you don’t know

Also, there are things about you that your husband knows and there are things about you that your husband does not know.

Now it is the same with your husband (other). 

There are things about himself that he knows and there are things about himself that he does not know

Also, there are things about him that you know and there are things about him that you don’t know.

Now put yourself in the place of Self and put your husband in the place of Other and have a look at the picture below (called Johari Window based on contraction of the names Joseph Luft and Harry Ingham who developed this tool to help people understand and improve their interpersonal relationships). 

The TRUST in a relationship is directly proportional to the OPEN Area whereas the other areas (HIDDEN, BLIND AND UNKNOWN) are sources of TRUST DEFICIT. Hence, in order to enhance TRUST  and reduce TRUST DEFICIT all you have to do is to increase the OPEN area (also called Arena) and reduce the HIDDEN Area (also called Facade) by Disclosure (Telling) and also reduce the BLIND area (also called Blind Spot) by obtaining Feedback (Asking). The UNKNOWN Area will also start reducing over time as the bonds of your mutual relationships become stronger and stronger and you get to know each other better and better.

TELL (disclosure) and ASK (feedback) each other and give yourself TIME together to reduce the hidden, blind and unknown areas respectively.

Here is how the Johari Windows will look before and after:

[Open Area or Arena Represents TRUST and the other three areas (Blind, Facade, Unknown) represent TRUST DEFICIT]

[Notice how the Open Area of Arena (TRUST) has increased and the other three areas (TRUST DEFICIT) are reduced]

So now you know what to do to reduce Trust Deficit in a relationship. Just sit together and work on Johari Window.

This works for me. Why don’t you try it out and see if it works for you. And don’t forget to comment and tell us about it.

All the Best.

Copyright © Vikram Karve 2012
Vikram Karve has asserted his right under the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988 to be identified as the author of this work.
© vikram karve., all rights reserved.

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About Vikram Karve

A creative person with a zest for life, Vikram Karve is a retired Naval Officer turned full time writer. Educated at IIT Delhi, ITBHU Varanasi, The Lawrence School Lovedale and Bishops School Pune, Vikram has published two books: COCKTAIL a collection of fiction short stories about relationships (2011) and APPETITE FOR A STROLL a book of Foodie Adventures (2008) and is currently working on his novel and a book of vignettes and short fiction. An avid blogger, he has written a number of fiction short stories, creative non-fiction articles on a variety of topics including food, travel, philosophy, academics, technology, management, health, pet parenting, teaching stories and self help in magazines and published a large number of professional research papers in journals and edited in-house journals for many years, before the advent of blogging. Vikram has taught at a University as a Professor for almost 15 years and now teaches as a visiting faculty and devotes most of his time to creative writing. Vikram lives in Pune India with his family and muse - his pet dog Sherry with whom he takes long walks thinking creative thoughts.

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Ruchita said...

WOW !! I never knew about this tool... thanks a lot for sharing it

Viyoma said...

Great! Johari Window - had studied this during my Management Days - glad to know, you use it for day today communication and analysis.

Thoughts - well conveyed.

PS : In which of your Blogs, do you write often about Pune City? Most of the times, I land up in the other blog.

Vikram Waman Karve said...

Hi Ruchita,
Try the Johari Window in your relationships and see how it works.
All the Best

Vikram Waman Karve said...

Hi Viyoma
Thanks for your nice words.
Well, I now just have one blog so you have to come here to read everything
All the Best