Writing Love Letters

Hear my soul speak:
The very instant that I saw you, did
My heart fly to your service.

I confess that I love
him, I rejoice that I love him, I thank the maker of Heaven and
Earth that gave him to me.  The exultation floods me.
–Emily Dickinson

But to see her was to love her, love but her, and love forever.
–Robert Burns

For the rest of us who are not a Shakespeare or Emily Dickinson or Robert Burns, Valentine’s Day can pose a challenge: How do we express our love in words?  Many of us rely on finding just the right card to express our innermost feelings.  Often, we can find one that works well.

If we can muster it, though, a love letter can be the key to someone’s heart. But where to begin?

There are several good sources that can help you write a love letter.  I’ve read most of them!  It boils down to this:

1. Open the letter with the special endearment you use only for your love: Dear heart; My darling cupcake; To my adorable KissyBear.

2. Say what you need to say. Why are you writing this love letter?  To celebrate your love on Valentine’s Day? Mend a broken heart? Make up after an argument?

3. Count the ways you love your sweetheart. This is an opportunity for you to reminisce about your history together, highlight what you currently love most about your
sweetheart, and look to your future as a couple.

    ***Share a memory from the past that will help your reader get into the mood for a love letter.  “I remember that time when…” “I can’t help but think of your beautiful smile the day I walked toward you down the aisle.” (OK, that rhymed accidentally, poetic skills are not necessary!)
    ***List your love’s characteristics that make your heart glow. Now is your chance to list your love’s best qualities. Trust me, this list will be read again and again.  As an added bonus, perhaps your recognizing them will encourage your love to exhibit these charming characteristics more frequently. Mention the way her giggle makes your heart flutter and she may laugh at your jokes more.  Wax poetic about your love’s signature chocolate chip pancakes and maybe they’ll pop up on the menu tomorrow!
    ***Discuss future plans or hopes.  “I can’t wait to have you all to myself on our trip to Paris.” Or, perhaps more realistically if you’re a busy, married couple with children: “I can’t wait to have five uninterrupted minutes to stare into your sparkling eyes and remind you why you married me in the first place.”

4. Go out with a bang. End on a note that leaves no doubt that your love is strong, enduring, forever.

A few other considerations:

Practice. Write drafts on scrap paper or on your computer so you can revise and reword a few times to make it perfect.

Use nice stationery, a pretty envelope, and embellishments like stickers or ribbons. Presentation makes all the difference. These extra touches show that you believe your loved one is worth the effort.

Write as neatly as you can. Don’t let worries about your handwriting be a reason not to express yourself in your own hand. But do try your best to make it easy for your love to read with eyes full of joyful tears.

If you need inspiration, there are plenty of collections of love letters out there.  The British Museum just released a small volume containing 25 love letters, including one from Anne Boleyn to Henry VIII and my favorite love letter of all time, De Profundis by Oscar Wilde to Lord Alfred Douglas.  (N.B.: Your letter does not need to be as angst-ridden or long as his.  And I hope that pouring your heart out to your love earns more reciprocation than Oscar received.)

But whether you pen a lengthy tome or jot a few, loving lines, your letter will be valued by the recipient as a tangible expression of your love that will last far longer than chocolates and flowers.

Happy writing and  Happy  (slightly early) Valentine’s Day!