08/09/2013 10:38 am ET Updated Aug 12, 2013

Family Secrets: Iyanla Vanzant Explains Four Reasons Why People Lie To Loved Ones (VIDEO)

As a relationship expert, Iyanla Vanzant has worked with many different families -- from large groups such as 19 family members living under one roof to two people looking to fix their marriage -- and has seen secrets tear family members apart. No matter how big or small the secrets are, Iyanla says that at the heart of each family secret is one of four common reasons for why a family member holds back.

To Protect Someone
One reason a family member may keep a secret, Iyanla says, is to protect another family member. "Of course, we want to protect ourselves from the shame, the judgment, the ridicule, but... there's somebody [else] we want to protect," Iyanla says.

Fear of Consequences
Family members with secrets often worry about what will happen if they reveal the secret. As Oprah points out in the above video, the consequence that people are often scared of facing is rejection. Iyanla adds that disappointment is also a frightening consequence, especially for children keeping secrets from their parents.

To Cover Up Poor Choices
When family members have done something they're not proud of -- as in the case of a teenager who discovers she's pregnant or an adult who's dealing with marital problems -- then they may withhold information, lie or make up stories just to keep their poor choices under wraps, Iyanla says.

Can't Fix the Problem
For some family members, keeping a secret makes it easier to pretend a problem/disagreement never existed in the first place. As an example, Iyanla says that someone whose family doesn't approve of interracial marriage may not tell his family members that he married outside of his race. Or, a gay person may hide his or her sexuality from family members who wouldn't approve of the lifestyle.

In the video, both Oprah and Iyanla also explain how people who keep secrets aren't just betraying their family members, but also themselves.

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