I’ll never forget the first love letter I received from my husband. We had started dating less than two months earlier, and I had finally decided that this was a relationship worth pursuing. Unfortunately my revelation came at the same time that his father was diagnosed with brain cancer.
I was devastated, and I excused myself from his life because I didn’t want to be in the way. I didn’t hear from him for three days. I figured our relationship was over before it had really even begun.
And then the letter came in the mail.
In it, he poured his heart out about his feelings for me and his dad’s illness and what he wanted going forward. He ended the letter by including a childhood picture of him and his father in their pumpkin patch – a cherished memory of his.
I was pretty much head over heels after reading the letter. Knowing my husband as I know him now, he never would have said those things to me in person. There is something about putting your feelings on paper that seems safer and more freeing than speaking them aloud.
In searching for his letter, I came across several others I had saved over the years. Most of them were from my college days in the early 1990’s, before emails, Facebook, cell phones, and texting took over. A flood of emotions washed over me as I read the letters from boyfriends, sorority sisters, and family members.
We live in a drive-thru society. We want everything now. We expect everything now. Technology has allowed us to be ever present to everyone at every moment we want to or need to be. Urgency is King and Immediacy presides over Patience’s funeral. If there is something I want to tell you, I will text you or send you a message on Facebook. Better yet, I’ll call you because I can reach you anytime, anywhere. If I want you to see a picture, I’ll put it on Facebook and Instagram so everyone can see it.
But the written word still has power. It still touches people. For writers and bloggers writing is therapy, passion, and creativity. For readers, it’s escapism, entertainment, and enjoyment. Just watch a post go “viral” or a novel be adapted for the screen and you’ll know that the written word still moves people.
A reader of mine once shared that the greatest gift her husband ever gave her was letters. He is in the military; and before each deployment, he hides letters all over the house for her to find. She stated that she often finds one just when she needs to hear from him. Her story gives me goose bumps.
I’m not suggesting that we forego the convenience of modern technology and solely rely on snail mail again; but a touching, romantic, personal note once and a while might be nice. Instead of expressing your love for your husband on your anniversary on Facebook for everyone to see (well, except him because he doesn’t even HAVE a Facebook page), why not write him a note that is just for his eyes only? Then you can say what you really want to say – wink, wink.
Here are some tips for writing a love letter in case you’re not sure how to begin:
1. Speak from your heart. Write what you’re feeling, no matter how cheesy it may sound.
2. Add personal details. Share a memory you can’t stop thinking about or something about yourself that you want the recipient to know.
3. Be willing to be vulnerable. Admit feelings. Share emotions.
4. Share things that only the two of you would know about. Pet names, inside jokes, that time that you did that one thing that you’d never tell anyone else about – you get the gist.
5. Remember to include the date and a special sign-off. XO works just fine; but if you have something you always say to each other, use that.
Another argument for writing letters is the historical value. There are many stories of long lost love letters being found years later in an attic or old piece of furniture. The most recent story united the letters of a young married couple during the Second World War with the couple’s grandchildren. It must have been a special gift to “see” their grandparents’ relationship firsthand.
If you want further letter writing inspiration, check out some of these collected works:
I Love You, Ronnie. The Letters of Ronald Reagan to Nancy Reagan. By Nancy Reagan.
Other People’s Love Letters: 150 Letters You Were Never Meant to See. By Bill Shapiro.
The 50 Greatest Love Letters of All Time. Edited by David H. Lowenherz.
98 Love Letters That Will Bring You to Your Knees. By John Bradshaw.
Happy letter writing!