I was in the grocery store yesterday and the tabloids were headlining the secret love child of yet another celebrity couple. While we tend to expect this from celebrity relationships, secrets are a problem for any couple. The question asked is if it is a good idea to reveal those secrets to your partner.
Let’s think about how it feels to find out after the fact. Do you really want to be surprised with a secret 10 years into a marriage, especially one that may have impacted your decision to marry in the first place? And the person living with a secret carries a burden that may interfere with intimacy as well.
Secrets tend to fall into 3 categories: 1) Things that are taboo–affairs, drug use, contracting an STI, etc. 2) A rule violation like partying, drinking too much at the office party, etc. or 3) More conventional problems like failing a test, hiding a health problem, etc.
We keep secrets from our loved ones for all kinds of reasons. We may be afraid of disapproval; we may want to protect that person, or we may worry about his or her reactions. But self-disclosure actually helps relationships and builds intimacy. Living with secrets is like living in a house with a cracked foundation, it never quite repairs and creates problems. While you don’t have to reveal every thought in your head to your partner, keeping secrets about important issues is not recommended.
Revealing secrets can hurt the other person, but it is the only way true repair can begin. You’ve already hurt the person by engaging in the behavior or keeping something important from him or her. Healthy relationship require honesty.
In relationships where trust is absent, self-disclosure can open the door to betrayal, gossip and violations of your privacy. Think, Linda Tripp and Monica Lewinsky! So don’t reveal your secrets to people you can’t trust. In fact, better to keep those secrets between you and your spouse. If you need help getting through the process, go to a therapist.
It can be sexual, but doesn’t have to be.
It can be present and you may not be aware of it.
It’s at the heart of failing relationships.
The secret relationship killer is betrayal. And betrayal isn’t always about infidelity. It has different faces like when a husband thinks more about his career than his wife. Or a wife decides not to have children, even though this was not the original plan. Partners who are selfish, cold and unfair display their disloyalty in every day acts, thus betraying the emotional safety and assurance one needs in a relationship.
Lies that are told to maintain the peace are acts of betrayal. Siding with a family member against your spouse, being emotionally absent and withholding sex are other ways to betray your partner. And of course, breaking promises to each other qualifies as well.
What makes a relationship work is trust–the opposite of betrayal.
If you relationship suffers from a lack of trust, try these things to start building it back:
1) Repent and be remorseful. Accept responsibility for your behavior and ask for forgiveness.
2) Commit to being honest and carrying no secrets.
3) Think about what went wrong and why in an order to avoid a repeat.
4) Make changes in your behavior. Tell your partner so he or she notice the change.
5) Be patient. Trust is easy to lose and takes time to rebuild. But it can be done and is necessary to move a relationship forward.
How can you bring down the tension and allow reason to prevail?
You make what we call in therapy, an emotional repair.
Couples who do this, stay together. In fact, martial researcher, John Gottman, calls emotional repairs the “life jackets of all romantic partnerships.” An emotional repair can move you from NASTY to NICE during a conflict.
Here are 10 emotional repairs that Gottman suggests to use during a conflict. These repairs don’t usually solve the conflict, but they do lower the tension enough for the two of you to have a better dialogue. And that is the point. All couples have conflict, but how they dialogue around the conflict is what matters.
1) Agree to something your partner is saying. Is there one thing that has any merit? If so, agree to that.
2) Ask an open ended question about your partner’s feelings. This signals listening and understanding.
3) Express some type of affection during a conflict.
4) Change the topic to something unrelated or minor. This calms things down for the moment, then return to the argument with a better frame of mind.
5) Agree to make some positive change. Be responsive where you can.
6) Use humor. This usually breaks tension.
7) Talk about your thoughts and feelings regarding the conflict.
8) Take responsibility for your part of the problem. Conflicts are not usually one sided.
9) Communicate empathy and understanding.
10) Talk in terms of the relationship, WE not I.
ADHD is a legitimate diagnosis based on underlying neurological conditions. It is a brain-based biological disorder that can be detected by brain scans and imaging. Chemical differences are found in the ADHD brain when compared to non ADHD children. Furthermore, current evidence suggest that ADHD is genetic.
In terms of the rising numbers of ADHD children, positives explanations include better awareness of the condition and better access to care. Decades ago, we did not do a good job of identifying children with this disorder. Now, more children are benefiting from early detection and treatment.
With the growing concern about overmedicating children on the minds of so many, preschoolers, who are correctly diagnosed do need intervention.
So what is being done to provide medication alternatives?
Perhaps a promising area to explore is solar intensity as it relates to ADHD. Sleep specialists tell us that children with ADHD often have sleep-onset insomnia and a delayed circadian phase. So a group of researchers looked at the relationship between environmental light exposure and ADHD prevalence. What they found was that higher solar intensity was correlated with lower ADHD prevalence. Exposing children to intense sunlight during the day and reduced light exposure at night may reduce some ADHD symptoms and act as a protective factor.
Based on this, it may be possible that a certain subgroup of children with ADHD would benefit from being exposed to natural light during the day, especially in states with low solar intensity. Maybe the addition of a sky light in the classroom, or more time outside could also help. The thinking here is that strong sunlight during the day may help reset the biological clock involved in sleep, since shorter sleep is associate with attention problems.
For a subgroup of children, more sunlight might help. Since there is nothing invasive about exposing kids to more light, seems like something to try.
 Arns M, van der Heijden KB, Arnold LE, Kenemans JL. Geographic variation in the prevalence of attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder: the sunny perspective. Biol Psychiatry. 2013 Mar 20; [Epub ahead of print].