"Mark, we need to talk".
Mark stood slowly upright and then turned hesitantly towards her. Those are never good words to hear. After wiping his fingers clumsily on a teatowel, he walked over to the dining room table and sat down.
Sophie drank a mouthful of the red wine that they'd been having over dinner and set down the glass. "I need to ask you a blunt question. Do you know that I love you?".
Mark looked downcast. "Soph, please. I wouldn't be with you if I didn't love you, if I didn't know that you loved me. Why are you saying this?".
"Because lately I've been feeling like we've been going through the motions. That things have become stale. We've been together for a while now and that's good - it is. But I'm just scared that you've forgotten that I'm crazy about you. I'm worried that you do things for me because we're in a relationship rather than out of love for me. Like when you buy me flowers or put on songs about how you feel about me. I love it when you do these things but I'd hate to think that you do them just out of obligation or habit."
A lone tear streaked down Mark's face. "So...are you breaking up with me?"
"Mark, no. Really, I'm not. That's not what I'm saying here. I'm not saying that I don't feel appreciated. I'm saying that I love you, and that I'm with you, regardless of any of the stuff you do. I'm saying that I love you for you. I cared about you before you started doing any of it, remember? I initiated things. And - trust me - I don't just care about grandiose actions. I actually enjoy spending time with you. You hear me? I enjoy it. The little things. I get excited when I wake up and find that I've got a text from you. I love the way in which you see things, the way you put things even when you don't know what you're saying. The things you tell me - the things which you think aren't perfect - are so, so precious to me."
Mark was staring at the floor and fiddling with a fold in his t-shirt. It might've looked to a bystander like he wasn't listening. But Sophie knew that he was hearing every word. And, beneath the surface, it was hitting home.
Sophie finished her glass of wine and looked intently at Mark. She gently moved over and put her hand in his.
"I knew what I was doing when I chose to love you, Mark. You might not have known anything about it. But I knew all the details of your life, knew it before anything. And the cross, the nails, the blood - I didn't do any of it by accident. It was all of it intentional. And it was all of it because I love you. Not you as you want to be. Not you as some other you. You as you are."