Helmed by Nigel Thomas, Lifetime’s ‘Secrets in the Marriage’ (also titled ‘My Husband the Narcissist) is a riveting thriller movie that follows a newlywed couple, Kat and Richard. One day, the former receives a mysterious call from a woman who claims to be pregnant with her husband’s child. However, Richard dismisses the woman as one of his former patients with mental health problems. But weeks later, Kat discovers that he has been hiding things from her, including his whereabouts. Though Richard tells her she’s being delusional from the side effects of her medications, she soon catches him cheating with their neighbor.
This leads to a massive altercation between the couple, resulting in Kat being framed for her husband’s murder. Now, she must race against time to prove her innocence and expose Richard’s sinister intentions to the police. Featuring compelling performances from actors like Brianna Cohen, Alex Trumble, and Lauren McCullough, the Lifetime movie explores real-life themes such as infidelity and psychological manipulation. Besides, the relatable characters beg you to ask the question — does ‘Secrets in the Marriage’ depict actual events? If you wish to find out, let’s begin!
Is Secrets in the Marriage a True Story?
Yes, ‘Secrets in the Marriage’ is based on a true story. The realistic narrative can be credited to writer Victoria Barabas, who has previously served as an actor and writer for the TV series ‘WingWoman.’ According to her, she has penned the story based on the relationship of an acquaintance, who has requested anonymity. The said person reportedly experienced a traumatic ordeal with their partner, wherein they were allegedly subjected to gaslighting.
Gaslighting is a term that means psychologically manipulating a person into doubting their own sanity and reasoning. Moreover, Barabas jokingly implied that the term “narcissist” in the movie’s original title is based on her husband but quickly clarified that it was said in jest. The term plainly describes Richard’s character in the movie but also addresses how this behavioral trait can be highly toxic in a relationship. While the writer has not revealed whom she has drawn inspiration from, she has written the story based on her observations and understanding of gaslighting.
Gaslighting is alarmingly common in modern times and is often reported in cases of domestic violence and sexual assault. In such instances, an aggressor emotionally manipulates their partner and makes them question their understanding and reactions to the abuse. It is seen as a means of gaining power in the relationship, wherein the abusive partner gaslights the victim into acknowledging that either the abuse was their mistake or never happened. This eventually forces the person to continue the relationship with their abuser and blame themselves.
According to the National Domestic Violence Hotline, 74% of female victims of domestic violence have experienced gaslighting from their partner or ex-partner. Not just that, the research firm YouGov states that 33% of women have been called “crazy” or “insane” by their romantic partners. Though not presenting such a grim situation, the Lifetime thriller explores this harsh reality through its protagonist, Kat. Her husband gaslights her into believing that she is delusional for suspecting his faithfulness. Later, he uses the same tactic to frame her for his murder.
Another movie that has accurately delved into the concept of gaslighting and narcissism is the 2016 psychological thriller movie ‘The Girl on the Train.’ In it, the central character, Rachel, faces similar abuse from her husband, who plants false memories in her head and makes her spiral into alcoholism and destructive behavior. Later, it is gradually revealed that he is a master manipulator with far more sinister motives than she can fathom.
Both Rachel and Kat are subjected to emotional abuse by their spouses, resulting in them getting incriminated in criminal cases. Though Victoria Barabas has drawn real-life influences for Kat’s story, she has infused several fictional elements to amplify the dramatic quotient. Hence, it can be said that while ‘Secrets in the Marriage’ is inspired by actual people and events, it mostly sticks to fiction over fact.
The writer’s primary objective was to entertain the audience while raising awareness about the red flags to look out for in a toxic relationship. Besides, the makers wanted to assure victims of abuse that their experiences are valid and that if they speak up, the world shall believe them. They and the actors have indeed done a convincing job of making the viewers wonder if what is depicted on screen happened in reality.
Read More: Where Was Lifetime’s Secrets in the Marriage Filmed? Who is in the Cast?