John and Marlena are sitting on the couch in their townhouse. They've finished supper and are finally finding some time to enjoy each other and relax. John is lying on some pillows against the side of the couch and Marlena is lying with her head on his shoulder.
"This is nice," Marlena says sweetly. Her eyes are closed and she's enjoying just being still for a moment with John.
"Yes, it is," John replies with a sigh. He kisses her gently on the top of her head. She opens her eyes, looks up at him, and smiles. He kisses her on the mouth now and pulls her tighter. He stops for a moment, looks at her again, then brushes her hair off her face and begins to kiss her more passionately. She responds at first, but then pulls back and stops.
"Is everything ok, sweetheart?" he asks, concerned.
"Yes, I'm fine," she says as she looks away. John knows instantly that something is up, so he asks again.
"What's wrong, Doc? Have I done something to upset you? Am I going too quickly?"
"Oh, no, John, not at all. You haven't done anything." She smiles weakly to try and reassure him.
He sits up at this point and sits her up as well. "Ok, sweetheart, out with it. Tell me, please, what is on your mind."
She hesitates a moment, then says, "It's nothing, really." She looks away again, but John isn't giving up. He reaches his hand softly against her cheek and pulls her face back to looking at his.
"Please tell me. I want to know."
She looks at him deeply for a moment, then quietly begins to talk. "I guess I'm just feeling a little self-conscious."
"Self-conscious about what, baby?"
She looks down at his lap. "About myself."
"I don't understand sweetheart, I'm sorry. What about yourself is making you self-conscious?"
"I just, well, I'm not as young as I used to be." She is fumbling for the right words.
"Ok." John is patiently listening.
"I am not as young as I used to be," she says again, this time a little upset and frustrated, "and I'm not as fit as I used to be, and I don't look the way I used to." Her voice gets quieter, and she looks down at her hands as she finishes.
"Do you think you're not as attractive to me anymore, Doc?" John puts his hand on her lap as he asks. She just keeps looking down. Her silence is her answer.
"Marlena, I want you to look at me and listen very carefully to what I have to say." She looks up and tears are welling in her eyes. John puts his hands around her face and says, with quiet conviction, "Every single time I look at you, do you know what I see?"
Flashback to their first wedding
Flashback to New Orleans
Flashback red dress at engagement in '97
"You are, without a doubt, the sexiest, most beautiful, most passionate woman I've ever known. And every time I see you, the woman I see is the woman I first fell in love with."
"But I don't look like her anymore, John. And I won't ever look like that again. I'll never have that figure again, and I just want you to be happy and content and satisfied with me."
"But Doc, I am all those things. And, if there were a reason you didn't want to make love to me anymore, I would understand. But you have the right, no matter what your age, to be happy and satisfied with me emotionally, physically and sexually. Do you still have those feelings for me?"
"Oh, of course, John! Of course I do! You are still just as physically breathtaking to me as you have always been. But you know the old saying, men get distinguished, women get old."
"Marlena, you are not old. You are just as fiery, and brave, and driven and amazing a woman as you always have been. None of that has changed in the slightest. And I would make love to you every single day and twice on Sunday if that's what you wanted. Baby, you still do everything for me that you've ever done, and I mean everything."
"But John, I am not the woman I once was."
"You are exactly her and more. There may be things about your figure that are different now. There may be a few lines here or there, there may be parts of you that are a little softer than they used to be. But sweetheart, it doesn't matter. Again, you are still the sexiest, most beautiful and passionate woman I have ever known, but it's not just that that makes me desire you. I see your body, and it's exquisite, but I also see your mind, your soul, your heart. Those are the things that I love the most about you, and those are the things that excite me the most about you. And they are even more appealing than they were in the beginning because of the bonds we now share, because of everything we've been through together, and because we are unshakable and unbreakable. I love you so much more than I did back then, for so many more reasons, and you will always be that woman in my mind's eye. She IS who I see when I look at you."
Marlena's tears are streaming down her cheeks, but not because she is sad. She smiles at John, and leans in to kiss him. "You are an incredible man, John Black, and I am so lucky and fortunate to be your wife. I love you so much."
"I love you too, Doc."
They begin to kiss, and John begins to help Marlena feel just as desirable as he thinks she is.