Dr. Marlena Evans made her debut as one of Mickey Horton's psychiatrists at Bayview Sanitarium. Soon after her appearance, she was drugged and admitted to Bayview as a patient while her twin sister impersonated her. She managed to escape and called Don to pick her up, but she was caught and Samantha (impersonating Marlena) ordered shock treatments to keep her sister docile. After awhile Don started suspecting the switch and soon Marlena was released and Samantha arrested. Late in 1977, Don announced his plans to marry Marlena. Marlena flew to where Samantha was being held, and they reconciled.
During her wedding to Don, Marlena left him at the altar to try to keep a girl from jumping off the roof. The girl turned out to be Don's daughter, and Don fell off the roof in his effort to save her. Don and Marlena eventually wed the following year. She became pregnant later that year, and gave birth prematurely to a two pound ten ounce baby boy. Three months later the baby died of SIDS. Marlena and Don separated when they could not come to terms with their baby's death.
In 1981, Marlena began being threatened, and a young woman was found strangled. Soon a second woman was found strangled and the killer wrote Marlena a note saying it was her fault. Then a doll with a broken neck was hung by a silk scarf from a curtain rod in her apartment. Police officer Roman Brady began working on the case. More killings followed. Roman ended up shooting the strangler after he had kidnapped Marlena and strangled Samantha.
Roman and Marlena went to Mazatlan but Marlena shied away from any romance believing that the murders were her fault. Roman asked Marlena to wait for him while he cleared up the business of declaring his first wife dead so he could be legally free to marry her. Anna Brady ended up being alive and came to Salem for a divorce from Roman. Marlena was then able to marry Roman, however while Roman went undercover, Marlena and Don hatched a plan where Don, in disguise as Roman, went with Marlena on the honeymoon so that they could pretend that Roman was there. In 1984 Marlena found she was again pregnant. She gave birth to twins Eric and Samantha Brady. Roman was "killed" by Stefano and then Stefano went after Marlena. Marlena then shot Stefano, who fell from a catwalk and was presumed dead. Marlena was charged with Stefano's death but ultimately a mistrial was declared.
Marlena then dated Richard Cates, who was the Salem police chief and an old friend of Roman's. It turned out that he was crooked though. In the beginning of 1986 Marlena met the John Black who she later determined was her husband Roman with extensive plastic surgery. After a prolonged stay in the hospital she and "Roman" renewed their wedding vows. Late that year a bomb inside the Brady house "killed" Marlena. Marlena wasn't actually killed; she was abducted and sent to a remote island. Roman followed and watched in horror as the plane carrying Marlena exploded in mid-air.
Five years later, the presumed-dead Marlena returned to Salem. She and Roman then went to find her captors and they found the real Roman -- the man she had been living with for many years turned out to be John Black. Roman and Marlena were reunited.
Marlena began counseling Roger Lombard who was driving drunk and hit her sister-in-law Kimberly. Roger's wife Stella became insanely jealous of Marlena and believed the two were having an affair. Stella kidnapped Marlena and threw her into the boiler pit of an old warehouse that was scheduled for demolition. Stella had a change of heart and called the police to let them know of Marlena's whereabouts when Stella was killed. John however followed the few clues that Stella had given and reached Marlena just as the warehouse exploded. The two were trapped inside until their friend Abe Carver rescued them. However their ordeal rekindled feelings for each other.
When Marlena vowed to stay with Roman, John planned to leave town. Marlena went to his plane to say good-bye but the two fell into a passionate embrace and made love. Their affair was discovered by Marlena's daughter Sami. Marlena learned she was pregnant but didn't know who the father was and it was revealed at baby Belle's baptism that John, not Roman, was indeed the father.
When Marlena went to Louisiana to search for John she was captured by Stefano and was forced to call Roman and tell him she was with John, giving their reconciliation the final blow. After they escaped, Stefano followed them to Salem and began using mind altering drugs on Marlena. Marlena did not seem her old self anymore and soon it was revealed that she was the Desecrator and was possessed by the Devil. John Black, who had been a priest before he came to Salem, performed an exorcism to save Marlena's soul. It seemed at first that Marlena would not survive but John and God pulled her through.
After her divorce from Roman, Marlena decided to pursue her feelings for John only to be kept apart from him by Kristen. Stefano managed to kidnap Marlena a couple more times but always John rescued her. Marlena kept her faith in John even as he stood trial and was sentenced to be executed for Tony's murder. John wrote Marlena a letter confessing his love for her which Kristen found and hid. After John was recanted of his crime, Marlena found the letter but promised Kristen she wouldn't tell John of Kristen's doings to keep them apart due to the delicate nature of Kristen's pregnancy. Though the pregnancy is over now, was in fact over within a few months, Kristen faked her way through the remainder of the pregnancy and is now doing all that is possible to keep Marlena from John.
Marlena got engaged to John Black the night of his wedding to Kristen. That night at the Penthouse, they made love for the first time in four years and he asked her to marry him. They planned their wedding, only to have Kristen bring her presumed dead ex-husband Roman to the church. The wedding never happened, and they found out that Roman had an incurable viral disease from the nuclear war he had fought for the ISA.
Feeling guilty, Marlena devoted her time to him, while Roman didn't know that she was engaged to John. Kristen had told him that she and John were married, and Marlena still loved him. She couldn't break a dying man's heart. But, Stefano presented a miracle! He knew where they could find the cure in the jungle. John, Hope, Kristen and Stefano went to the jungle, while she cared and spent a lot of time with Roman. She began to care for him again, much to the dismay of John, who interrupted their wedding with the cure. Roman found out about John and Marlena and had his blood pressure rise to a skyrocketing number. He was hospitalized. John and Marlena eventually found themselves back together.
Marlena was very dismayed at the fact that John had a friendship with Greta, whom she thought might be a fraud. She stood by her man while he pursued his past, and even hypnotized him a few times. She also played watchdog to her "wayward" stepdaughter Carrie, who had feelings for Mike. She didn't want her to have an affair with Mike, even though Austin practically abandoned her. And also, she worried about her daughter, grandson, and son-in-law who were hiding from the police, and was devastated when Sami was sentenced to death by lethal injection.
Sami escaped death and was then free, Marlena married her true love John and they were happy for a brief time. John was taken control of by evil Gina and he slept with evil Gina several times while on his honeymoon with Marlena. Marlena rescued John from the ocean and he has no memory of evil Gina or what he did. Her happiness at finding John would be short lived as evil Gina was determined to have him for her own, and then there was the real Princess Gina, she wanted him too.
With Princess Gina dead and out of the way, it looked like the only problem that John and Marlena would have was that John Thomas Brady, Hope's son, was also John's son as well! But that wasn't the only problem in store for them when John's son Brady came home from university. He had a chip on his shoulder a mile wide because Marlena had always preferred her biological daughter, Belle, to him, and her obsession with proving he was demon spawn indirectly resulted in a horrific accident for her own daughter, and Brady's paralysis.
Everything was back on track with John and Marlena when they discovered first that Tony DiMera was John's half-brother, and then, that while she was held prisoner by Stefano all those years ago, she gave birth to twins Cassie and Rex, fathered by Tony. It wasn't long before Rex figured out that his biological parents were actually Roman and Kate, but Marlena still believes they are hers. She is starting to suspect the truth, but as she has made clear to Rex, she knows she gave birth to them, and regardless of biology, she considers them her children.
Marlena was just recovering from the shock of learning that Rex and Cassie weren't her children when Cassie was murdered. Not only that, but her daughter Sami kept insisting that Marlena was in danger from John, and John made no secret of his dislike and disgust toward not only Sami but also Rex. Despite her burgeoning feelings for her former husband Roman, Marlena went to Roman and Kate's wedding ceremony, and was devastated when Kate found Roman's dead body. She soon asked John to move out. When Tony was in the hospital recovering from his tiger wounds he looked up to his killer's face...and saw Marlena!
Marlena was eventually revealed to have been a pawn of Tony's and not truly the killer, but before that could happen Marlena was gunned down on the police station roof and presumed dead. She woke up on a mysterious island, where all the people from Salem that she had killed were living. They tried to escape, but neither Marlena nor Roman was successful. Tony held them captive in a European castle for many months while forcing them to watch John and Kate get closer via closed circuit television. The two eventually made love, but were rescued soon after, and tried to return to their lives in Salem.
After returning to Salem, Marlena discovered she was pregnant, and the timing made it impossible to be John's baby. Unfortunately, Marlena fell down the stairs one day while listening to John and Roman argue about her and lost the baby. She awoke with a condition known as hysterical amnesia. Lexie called in the world's top specialist on amnesia, Dr. Alex North, who came to town to try to help Marlena regain her memory. It wasn't long before Alex revealed that he had a connection to Marlena that no one ever suspected -- he was her long-lost and presumed dead first husband! This meant that all of her subsequent marriages were invalid, as she and Alex had never divorced. She was torn between John and Alex, but ultimately chose to honor her commitments to her first husband.
John eventually proved that Alex was a fraud, and he fell over a cliff to his death. While researching the DiMeras in Italy, John and Marlena were married in a beautiful ceremony, but didn't have long to enjoy themselves --- John was shot by E.J. Wells and fell into a coma. Doctors were skeptical that he would wake up, but Marlena spent the next several months caring for John and she refused to believe he wouldn't regain consciousness despite the diagnosis. Along with her concerns for John, she also vowed revenge on the DiMera Family, especially E.J. Her friends were all worried about her and suspected she might try to harm E.J., but, ultimately, she did not act on her vengeful impulses.
Even when it seemed things were at their worst for Marlena, things continued to go horribly wrong when a comatose John was kidnapped from the hospital. Again she blamed E.J., but had little proof. As it turned out, the DiMera's took John to a remote location, stole his kidney and transplanted into Stefano in order to save his life. John was soon after returned to the hospital where he eventually woke up and recovered from his injuries despite the massive trauma to his body.
Shortly after John woke from his coma, he and Marlena joined the Brady Family as they tried to discover the reason behind the DiMera's Vendetta against them all during the summer of 2007. Fortunately, Marlena and John also managed to enjoy some happier times in addition to their investigation. They dined at Chez Rouge, relaxed on the beach and caught up with old friends including a recently discovered Tony DiMera who had been stranded on a remote island for nearly twenty years. Sadly, by that fall tragedy would strike once again and Marlena leave devastated.
In October 2007, John was struck by a hit and run driver while crossing the street. Marlena and Belle pleaded with him to hang on until help arrived, but he was slipping away. A short time later, with all of her family and friends at her side, Marlena said goodbye to the love of her life as he slowly passed away as a result of the injuries he sustained in the accident. John was "dead." Even though it was later revealed that the culprit was the ex-cellmate of Andre DiMera, Marlena blamed Stefano and confronted him on several occasions (once with a gun)! Yet, even knowing who was responsible did little to comfort Marlena.
After the funeral she fell into a deep depression. Belle and Sami tried to support their mother as best they could, but it was little help as Marlena was completely devastated. In a somewhat bittersweet moment Marlena helped Sami deliver her twins and was honored when Sami named her new son John after Marlena's departed husband. Yet, despite the support of her family and friends, Marlena's struggle to cope with John's "death" lasted throughout the holidays. She did venture to Chez Rouge on New Years to join her friends, but her heart was still broken and she kept hoping John would miraculously show up. Although her family and friends continued to worry, they also began to question her stability, especially when she began to make accusations John was still alive. Surprisingly, her intuition would eventually be proven correct.
In a rather shocking moment, E.J. found John still alive and being held captive in a secret laboratory in the DiMera Mansion. To make amends for his misdeeds, E.J. told Marlena where to find John. Marlena, Bo and Hope ventured to the lab to free John who was indeed alive. But, the reunion was bittersweet because John's memories had been erased and placed on a disk. He didn't remember anything from his past - including his love for Marlena! Adding further heartbreak, John was now a changed man. He was cold, emotionless and retrained to be Stefano's mercenary. Although thrilled John was alive, Marlena had a difficult time accepting his new personality. She was also furious with Stefano for once again causing so much pain to her and her family.
Later in January 2008, Marlena finally sought revenge! While Stefano was being held in jail Marlena convinced Roman to let her visit with him. She quickly injected him with a drug that rendered him motionless. Then, after taunting him and declaring he would never hurt anyone again, she injected him once more. The second shot was a non-traceable "drug cocktail" that would make it appear like Stefano had a stroke and slipped into a coma. In reality, Stefano would actually be totally aware of the world around him thus making him a prisoner in his own body. Although she had some guilt for breaking the Hippocratic Oath, first do no harm, she realized she did the right thing by ending the Phoenix's reign of terror.
With Stefano out of the way, Marlena and John joined the Brady Family as they journeyed to Ireland to uncover the truth behind the Vendetta as well as find their granddaughter, Claire Brady, who'd been kidnapped. Unbeknownst to everyone, John had a secret mission of his own - to kill Stefano's greatest enemy, Colleen Brady, who was believed to have died decades before! Once in Ireland, not only did they rescue Claire, but everyone was shocked to find that Colleen was alive and that she was the person who kidnapped Claire to protect Claire from Stefano!
John didn't forget his secret task and declared he was going to kill Colleen. Marlena tried to stop him and was knocked unconscious. However, right before John was about to complete his mission, Colleen made a shocking revelation - she was his mother, Santo DiMera was his father and Stefano was his long lost half-brother! He was now part DiMera and Brady! He backed away from his mission and Marlena tried to help a confused, yet emotionless, John sort through what happened. Despite her valiant efforts, Marlena couldn't help. John was a changed man and hardly showed any emotions, not even when Colleen passed away in his arms.
Aboard the airplane back to the states, tragedy struck again when the plane crashed somewhere in Greenland leaving Shawn Sr. and the two pilots dead. Marlena, escaped the ordeal mostly unscathed, but, upon returning to Salem, her life became unbearable as she dealt with John's new robotic personality as well as his determination to take over the DiMera Empire at all costs. In addition to being emotionless, he was now greedy. He started a waterfront turf war between the DiMera and Kiriakis families over shipping interests in Salem Harbor. Marlena was horrified and hurt that the man she once loved so much had became so ruthless and uncaring. Although she had moved in with John in hopes that she could help him remember their past, Marlena was heartbroken and journeyed to Colorado to do some "soul searching."
Once back in Salem, Marlena continued to reach out to John and tried to accept his new behavior, yet just couldn't accept the man she once loved so much was now a stranger. She also had a hard time accepting that he was making illegal deals and breaking the law! Despite some minor breakthroughs, John wasn't going to change and seemed to like his new personality. Although they remained married and Marlena was hopeful that John would miraculously remember her, he didn't. In fact he began a relationship with Ava Vitali which further hurt Marlena.
The last straw for Marlena was when she tried to get John to view the disk with his memories and he refused. Seeing the disk as her last chance at getting back the man she loved, Marlena was crushed when he destroyed it! Feeling she had no other choice but to move on with her life, Marlena filed for divorce. John remained with Ava, a very troubled woman with connections to the mafia. However when faced with possible imprisonment for crimes she committed, Ava fled town. Later that day Marlena found a note that Ava left for John and told Roman she jumped bail. John was hurt by Marlena's "betrayal," yet soon forgave her when Marlena's life was threatened!
Elsewhere in Salem, Stefano woke from his coma and started to plot revenge against Marlena! When Stefano started to seemingly stir, he was transferred from his long term care clinic to University Hospital. His family and enemies visited him and Marlena knew if he was to wake up, her life would be in danger. John promised to protect her, but he didn't know Stefano's plans were already in action. (Stefano had been faking his coma for quite some time.) On the day of Bo and Hope Brady's vowel renewal ceremony, Marlena was attacked by a masked intruder and injected with the same "drug cocktail" that she had given to Stefano. Marlena was paralyzed and slipped into the same coma she had caused in her enemy.
Fortunately, she was rescued by John and Anna DiMera, who were worried when Marlena didn't show up at the ceremony. John and Anna performed CPR on Marlena, managed to stabilize her and rushed her to the hospital. Things got worse, however, when Stefano trapped all of his enemies on the seventh floor of the hospital and tormented them with hallucinogenic gas. He tortured Marlena by showing up at her bedside and taunting her with his story of being trapped inside his own body due to her. He also taunted her with an antidote that Kayla Johnson came up with, but refused to give it to her!
During her coma, Marlena got a visit from the "ghost" of her sister Samantha Evans. Sam urged Marnie, as she called her, to hang on and fight for John - they had a strong love for each other that could withstand anything. Marlena fought for her life and eventually recovered completely once she was finally able to receive the antidote. However, she didn't take her sister's ghostly advice nor was she persuaded by John's attempt to impress her by relinquishing all things DiMera. She remained convinced she needed to end things with John officially. Even with protests from her family, friends and John himself, Marlena served John with divorce papers.
After another trip to Colorado to visit her parents and son Eric, Marlena ran into John in the park. He acknowledged he received the papers and would take care of things. Later that day, he visited Marlena at her penthouse with other news. He informed her that he was hiring a private investigator to track down the former mayor's killer in order to free Sami from the witness protection program. Marlena was touched by his actions. But her happiness was short lived when she received a surprise visitor - Brady Black had returned home! She was ecstatic to see her stepson, yet John's reactions to seeing Brady were cold and uncaring. Brady was hurt and, once John left, Marlena thoroughly filled Brady in on John's condition. Brady understood, but became determined to help John regain his memory and, by doing so, perhaps help Marlena and John finally get back together!
Both Marlena and Brady urged John to seek intensive psychotherapy to attempt to regain his memories. Reluctantly, John finally agreed. Knowing she could never be impartial when it came to John, Marlena sought help from her trusted mentor, Dr. Kenneth Taylor. At first, John refused therapy from someone he didn't know or trust, but, due to Marlena and Brady's urging, he eventually decided to accept Dr. Taylor's help. However, everyone was in for a big surprise.
Dr. Taylor's arrival in Salem shocked both Marlena and John. It wasn't Dr. Kenneth Taylor - it his beautiful, blonde daughter Dr. Charlotte Taylor. This unsettled Marlena and she demanded an explanation. Charlotte informed her that her father Kenneth had recently passed away and she was taking over the treatment of his patients. John found himself drawn to Charlotte and accepted her help, yet Marlena remained skeptical of her newfound colleague.
Marlena's suspicions of the "other" Dr. Taylor started to bloom as Charlotte and John formed a very close patient/doctor relationship. Things soon grew tenser when Charlotte informed Marlena that, not only had she moved to Salem permanently, but she was hired by University Hospital and would be sharing a receptionist and waiting area with her. Marlena was bothered by the abrupt change, but didn't have time to talk things out with Charlotte as John showed up for a therapy session. Coincidentally, Kayla showed up at the same time to deliver the same news that Marlena had already heard from Charlotte. Sensing her friend was upset, Kayla tried to sooth things over with Marlena.
During her conversation with Kayla, Marlena admitted that she wasn't jealous of Charlotte and didn't see her as a romantic threat to her relationship with John, but she was jealous in the sense that she wasn't the one helping John as she had done in the past. Kayla sympathized with Marlena and offered her any help she needed. Their talk seemed to put Marlena's doubts about Charlotte to rest for the time being. In fact, Charlotte herself relieved many of Marlena's concerns when she claimed that her main goal was to help John get his memories back so that he and Marlena could reunite. Charlotte also expressed hopes that she and Marlena would not only be colleagues, but friends as well. Cautiously, Marlena agreed.
Marlena and Charlotte's "friendship" was short lived. In 2009, despite celebrating at Chez Rouge on New Year's Eve together, Marlena couldn't shake the feeling Charlotte was up to something - something that concerned John. She began researching Charlotte online. At first, she found only outstanding credits "a mile long" and a plethora of journal articles Charlotte had written. But, before she could follow a lead that would help crack the mystery, Marlena's suspicions turned to shock and appall when John arrived with startling news. He informed her that, after only one hypnotherapy session, Charlotte thought proceeding with them would be a waste of time and suggested he would never get his memories back.
Marlena was infuriated and confronted Charlotte. During their confrontation, Marlena noticed Brady snooping in Charlotte's office and tried to distract her so that she wouldn't catch him. Unfortunately, Charlotte turned the tables on Marlena and scorned her for questioning her skills as a psychiatrist. She also said it was unethical to talk about John's sessions with Marlena and she should know that as a doctor. Their battle became so heated that Kayla, the acting Chief of Staff, showed up to mediate. On route to Kayla's office to sort of their disagreement, Charlotte abruptly apologized for overreacting and headed back to her office. Fortunately, Brady had already left, but Charlotte knew someone had used her computer.
Later that day Marlena was at her penthouse when Brady showed up. She questioned his motives for being in Charlotte's office, but he told her to hold her thoughts while he showed her something he emailed her. What he showed her was the recording of John's first hypnotherapy. In it, John had started to remember his past! Marlena was simultaneously thrilled, infuriated with Charlotte, and worried about Brady as his actions could get him into trouble. Marlena told Brady to cool off; she would take care of Charlotte!
After Brady left, Marlena followed up with Charlotte's last employer at Lehman University in Minnesota. The contact there told her that Charlotte had left abruptly understand mysterious circumstances. Just as Marlena was ending her phone call, Charlotte showed up to confront her about receiving the email with John's session attached. She taunted Marlena and once again gave her the ethics speech on how unethical it was to steal a patient's confidential record. Marlena retaliated by telling Charlotte she stole John's hope of ever regaining his past by lying to him about his progress. Yet, things went from bad to worse when Marlena commented that Kenneth would be so disappointed by Charlotte's behavior. Charlotte's metal stability finally snapped and she told Marlena that Kenneth was dead, she didn't need his approval.
Knowing Charlotte had a personal vendetta against her, Marlena urged her to tell her the truth. And Charlotte did! She not-so-sanely explained that she had left Lehman University to take care of her ailing father and that Marlena would have known that had she kept in touch with Kenneth. Charlotte then confessed that Marlena had ruined her life by taking her father's attention away from her. Charlotte said Kenneth always had time for his favorite student, but never his own daughter. She was also hurt Marlena didn't remember her from the times they met while she was working with Kenneth. Knowing she could never get those times back, Charlotte declared she was going to take time away from Marlena and pulled out a hypodermic needle filled with a large enough dose of muscle relaxant that it would kill her.
Despite the danger, Marlena remained calm and refused to take the responsibility for Charlotte's troubled past. Marlena even suggested that perhaps Charlotte just wasn't that good of a psychiatrist. This caused Charlotte to snap and she lunged at Marlena with the syringe. Marlena was eventually able to push Charlotte away. Unfortunately, she pushed her near the door and, when John came through it moments later, Charlotte lunged at him with the needle and impaled him in the back. John told Marlena "she was safe now" and then collapsed.
Fortunately, Bo, Hope and Brady arrived a few seconds later. Marlena had already begun to administer CPR to John, and Bo joined in while Hope arrested Charlotte. John was soon rushed to the hospital where Kayla revealed that John had a stroke because of the injection. After filling Kayla in on John's recent memory gains, Kayla encouraged Marlena to talk about the past with John as that often helps stroke victims. Marlena did just that and even kissed him. Like the Prince's kiss did with Sleeping Beauty, Marlena's kiss seemed to wake John. She was in for another surprise when he finally uttered the words she had waited over a year to hear. John weakly proclaimed, "I remember …I remember all of it, Doc, especially you."
Marlena was overjoyed, but, unfortunately, Kayla returned with John's latest test results. They concluded that John was paralyzed from the neck down and it could become permanent if he's not immediately transferred to a clinic in Lugano, Switzerland that specializes in cases like his. Despite John's attempt to get Marlena to move on without him, she agreed that they would both go to the clinic that evening and, through thick and thin, they would be together. When she went out to get Brady so he could see his father, Marlena ran into Stefano. When Stefano tired to explain to her that he had nothing to do with John's condition, she calmly and confidently replied that he couldn't hurt them anymore, turned and walked away.
When Marlena returned to John's side and he had one request before they left Salem - he wanted to remarry her. Happily, she agreed and they had a very quick, but intimate wedding at his bedside. John's old friend, Father Jansen, remarried them while Kayla, Roman and Brady all looked with joy. Even Stefano gave his old advisories a nod of approval through the window before he left. When Father Jansen pronounced them man and wife, Marlena leaned in and kissed her husband. After their lips parted, they shared one last longing glance into each other's eyes knowing it was the end of their time in Salem, but the beginning of their new life together.
In September 2011, John and Marlena returned to Salem for the dedication of the Horton Square. John's therapy had been a success and he was able to walk again. John and Marlena enjoyed catching up with their friends and family. But, during the party Rafe received a call and was told to arrest John on charges of corporate embezzlement and fraud. But, within a few weeks, Rafe and Carrie proved that evidence against John had been fabricated and John was released from jail in time to spend the holidays with his family.
Now a free man, John set about returning money to all of the people who had lost money in the embezzlement scheme. He decided to rebuild Basic Black. To help with the household expenses, Marlena accepted a job at Salem U as head of their psychiatry department.
Around the same time, Bo and Hope were investigating a secret safe deposit box that Alice had. It turns out that the box contained two secrets- one about the DiMeras and one about the Hortons. The Horton secret was that John and Hope were still legally married from the days when Stefano had brainwashed the two of them. Thinking this was just a legal technicality to deal with, Bo, Hope, John, and Marlena headed to Alamainia to file for divorce. But Bo and Marlena were denied entry into Alamainia. Instead, Marlena stayed behind to care for her family and wait for John to return.
When he returned, John reunited with Marlena and the two settled in for a nice life together. But a few short months later, John and Marlena's nemesis, Kristen arrived in Salem during the fall of 2012. Kristen kept saying that she wanted to make amends and that she had gone through a lot of therapy. John didn't believe her at first, but eventually he started to see that she had changed. Marlena never believed Kristen and as a result, Marlena and John drifted apart; and Kristen was able to set her plan into motion.
Kristen was out for revenge on John and Marlena. And she had decided to use John's son, Brady, to do it. She and Brady started dating and Kristen arranged for John to walk in on Kristen and Brady having sex on top of Brady's desk. John was furious. When he told Marlena, he was angry to learn that Marlena knew about Brady and Kristen but didn't tell John. This drove the wedge between John and Marlena even further. John moved out of the penthouse.
Marlena focused her attention on keeping Kristen away from Brady, but Kristen was always one step ahead of Marlena. But finally, Marlena got her hands on a photo of Kristen paying off the henchmen who attacked Brady. Marlena showed the picture to Brady on the night before his wedding to Kristen. Brady dumped Kristen on the spot and Marlena gloated.
With Kristen presumably out of the picture, Marlena turned her attention towards the rest of her family.