Why So Secretive?
Why not tell Clark of her return, though? She further professes to him the need for a period of normalcy in her life while she writes her book, and the challenges of being married to Superman while trying to embrace a normal career. To write a book about Superman, she felt the need to put some distance between herself and the very man she's writing about.
Lois was clearly conflicted on whether to tell her husband of her return, but that uncertainty makes for one very large elephant in Lois' hotel room while the couple discuss the matter. The sting of her decision not to return to Clark was worsened by him finding out secondhand – a calculated risk on her part, perhaps, but one that backfired thanks to Cat Grant accidentally giving her up. Clark seems to take it all in stride but being told that their respective careers must be put before their marriage isn't exactly a relationship builder.
Lois says she wants to stay with Clark, but her actions conflict with that statement. She returns to Earth and sequesters herself hundreds of miles away in order to resume her writing career in secret. To make matters worse for a shell-shocked Clark, he gets another surprise from his colleague, gossip writer Trish Q – possibly the worst surprise of all: Lois was spotted with none other than Superman's arch-foe Lex Luthor. Even worse still, Lois never made a mention of that little encounter.
It Gets Even Worse
Luthor showed up at the end of last issue, assuring Lois their discussion would be "interesting," but what they spoke about remains unclear. When Superman presses her on the issue, she dismisses his question with a joke, before telling him that he was concerned about what she might be writing about him in her book. Her explanation rings a little hollow, though – she hasn't been terribly truthful up to this point, and with Luthor involved, there's almost certain to be more to be revealed regarding their conversation. Trish also cites reports of "canoodling" between the two, whatever that might mean, which, not matter how much he may love and trust his wife, plays no part in making Clark feel any better.
Lois' need to find herself, cavort about in secret, and engage in a clandestine encounter with another man aren't exactly examples of all-important open communication in a marriage. It's not like Lois doesn't love Clark, and she even stresses that she's not wanting to divorce him, but their discussion has all the hallmarks of a married couple on the verge of separation. After their talk, their previous separation by circumstance now feels more like a trial separation between a troubled wife and husband. And she's pushing for it to continue.
Clark cites his need for her, but she doesn't reciprocate. In truth, do either of them truly need each other right now? What Lois needs is to write her book, and Superman needs to save the world, as always – neither of those requires the other's participation. If their discussion wasn't a break-up talk, it sure sounded a lot like one.