SEAN BLACKMAN: Keeping the faith

Eve Myles stars in the new BBC series Keeping Faith'  Picture: BBC Wales
Eve Myles stars in the new BBC series Keeping Faith' Picture: BBC Wales
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Our regular Gosport contributor looks at secrets within relationships and how we should deal with them.

It’s the sort of programme that makes you think. At least, it made me think, about relationships.

The current BBC thriller Keeping Faith starts off simple enough.

The life of Faith Howells, a solicitor on maternity leave from her family-run firm, is thrown into turmoil when her husband Evan, who works at the same firm, suddenly vanishes on his way to work.

As each episode unfolds, more secrets are uncovered and Faith begins to wonder whether she really knows her husband at all.

In the midst of the roller coaster ride of emotions the story takes you on there is an underlying question; how can Faith keep trusting a partner who has kept so many secrets?

It is very likely that in every relationship there are secrets. There are things which partners do not know about one another. These may be more to do with not wanting to hurt the other person or damage the other person.

So, honest and open sharing about the intricacies of every previous relationship can do more harm than good.

There are some secrets which should not be kept, such as whether they are married or in a long-term relationship; whether there are past misdemeanours such as problems with the law, or addictions such as alcohol, drugs or gambling.

Intrigued by the question of who keeps secrets, and why, University of Tennessee psychologist Beth Easterling discovered in her 2012 study that 60 per cent of participants admitted to keeping at least one secret from their partner at one point. A quarter said they were currently keeping such a secret and even in the closest partnerships some things may be kept secret because of the fear that disclosure of the secret might cause pain.

Nevertheless, keeping secrets can destroy a romantic relationship. Some people believe they need to keep secrets for their relationship to survive.

They lack confidence in their ability to confront difficult topics such as money troubles or past mistakes. However, a lack of openness and honesty in a relationship can lead to mistrust and put at risk the very relationship they want to save.

Ironically, if you want an honest, open and trusting relationship, the best way to get it is by being honest, open and trusting.

No relationships are perfect and truth can sometime’s be a bitter pill to swallow, yet relationships which are real and authentic are more likely to grow and thrive than those which are characterised by secrets.

It is too early to say whether Faith’s relationship with her husband Evan will survive, should he prove to be still alive.

What is clear is secrets in relationships are best avoided, if possible.

Generally, people are better at handling the truth and keeping faith than we think.