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Marlena stuns John this week when she asks him for a divorce. "Marlena's had no encouragement (that the man she loved is returning)," says Deidre Hall (Marlena). "The more John has disintegrated, the more she's been persuaded to withdraw from him."

Marlena shares her grim viewpoint after John tracks her down at the Pub. "John is concerned, because Marlena's left the house," explains Hall. "He doesn't know where she is. She's unprotected, and Stefano is on the loose. John's alarmed Marlena would go out alone."

While Marlena understands John's concerns, she doesn't appreciate his insistence that she be with him. "She is frightened, but she also knows she can't live in fear," explains Hall. Doc makes sure to drive this point home. "Trent had invited Marlena to join him for breakfast, and Marlena said, 'I don't think so,'" recounts Hall. "So in a moment when John is leaning on her pretty heavily to come back, and fall into line, she declares her independence and goes and sits with Trent."

The pair enjoy breakfast, so Trent decides to take things a step further by asking Marlena out on a date. She contemplates the invitation, but not to stick it to John.

"We're not playing it that way," says Hall. "That would be a mistake for the character. It isn't essentially who Marlena is. She wouldn't take any pleasure in hurting John. This is for her own survival. The dating theory is you get yourself out there. It doesn't have to be with somebody you're going to marry. We just go out and socialize until something magical happens."

Later, Marlena goes even further and asks John for a divorce, flooring him, since he's now determined to work on their marriage. "Marlena has really come to the end of the line," sighs Hall. "She sees John as possessive and restrictive, and she's not getting anything out of it. There's no relationship. Now, he's demanding to know her whereabouts and what she's doing, and limiting her freedom. The only way to survive that is to cut ties."

But is Marlena really ready to move on without John? "What I'm using (to justify it) for myself is, 'I'm done. I can't do this anymore. I'm completely giving up on you - almost,'" laughs Hall. "If the John that she loves surfaces, she won't be at a loss not to fall into his arms."

Too bad he's no where in sight -- and the John who does exist is about to get some juicy ammunition from Nicole about Marlena's new man.

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