Daily Archives: January 3, 2013

How to Write a Love Letter

Gift certificate example

One of the offerings from my 2012 Christmas gift to readers was a gift certificate promise to exchange love letters. I’ve been asked before about the best gift my husband ever got me, and hands-down it’s the love poem he wrote.

Now my husband is not the romantic type. I’ve fondly called him Spock here on my blog because that’s not far from his personality. Can you imagine a love letter written by a Vulcan?

(Hey, you non-Star Trek fans . . . First of all, what’s wrong with you? Star Trek is a classic, regardless of which series or reboot you watch! Second, Spock is a character from the planet of Vulcan who does not express emotion but rather uses logic at all times.)

My hubby’s love letter to me would have likely made Cyrano de Bergerac cringe and yank the pen out of his hand, but it was absolutely beautiful to me because it required effort, thought, and expressing how much I meant to him.

Since weren’t not all naturally like Robert and Elizabeth Barrett Browning (who traded love poems with verses like, “How do I love thee? Let me count the ways!”), I thought I’d give some tips for writing a love letter to your spouse. These tips come from online research, my own brain, and Song of Songs, or Song of Solomon, from the Bible (talk about your steamy love letter!).

The following are some of the components you might want to include.

Remember when? Recall a special memory you two shared. You could talk about when you first met or when you first knew that your spouse was The One, and how that time made you feel. Provide enough descriptive detail to recreate the scene and the emotions that scene evoked. Your memory could be romantic, funny, or a tale of triumph over hardship, as long as it’s something that makes you both remember your courtship or marriage in a positive way.

SAMPLES

” I look back to the early days of our acquaintance; and Friendship, as to the days of Love and Innocence; and with an indescribable pleasure I have seen near a score of years roll over our Heads, with an affection heightened and improved by time — nor have the dreary years of absence in the smallest degree effaced from my mind the Image of the dear untitled man to whom I gave my Heart . . .”

— Abigail Adams to her husband, U.S. President John Adams

“All night long on my bed
    I looked for the one my heart loves;
    I looked for him but did not find him.
I will get up now and go about the city,
    through its streets and squares;
I will search for the one my heart loves.
    So I looked for him but did not find him.
The watchmen found me
    as they made their rounds in the city.
    “Have you seen the one my heart loves?”
Scarcely had I passed them
    when I found the one my heart loves.
I held him and would not let him go . . .”

— Song of Song 3:1-4

The best is yet to come. Write about your anticipation of the future with your beloved. What do you look forward to sharing with them? Is there something specific you’ve talked about in your future? Traveling? Settling down somewhere special? Making love in the living room after the kids grow up and move out? Whatever it is, let your spouse know that you expect to be with them for a long time and are devoted to making your life together a good one.

SAMPLES

“I could be handy, mending a fuse when your lights have gone
You can knit a sweater by the fireside, Sunday mornings, go for a ride
Doing the garden, digging the weeds, who could ask for more?
Will you still need me, will you still feed me when I’m sixty-four?”

— Paul McCartney and John Lennon of The Beatles, When I’m 64

“The important thing is I don’t want to be without you for the next 20 years, or 40, or however many there are. I’ve gotten very used to being happy and I love you very much indeed.”

— President Ronald Reagan to his wife, Nancy

What turns you on? We all want to feel attractive to our mate, so describe what features of his/her appearance are appealing to you. What about their looks turns you on? Avoid the basic, “You’re beautiful” or “You’re hot” statements, and get specific. Name parts of the body (eyes, mouth, legs, toenails, whatever) and tell what you like about them.

Sheila Wray Gregoire had an exercise in her 29 Days to Great Sex (the basis for her fabulous ebook, 31 Days to Great Sex) in which she asked women to name five things about their appearance that they liked, and many wives struggled with this one. We can get really down on ourselves, especially as our bodies age or circumstances prevent us from looking and feeling our best. But your spouse is still beautiful and needs to hear it from you. Help your wife (or husband) know what those five fabulous things are.

SAMPLES

“How beautiful you are, my darling!
    Oh, how beautiful!
    Your eyes behind your veil are doves.
Your hair is like a flock of goats
    descending from Mount Gilead.
Your teeth are like a flock of sheep just shorn,
    coming up from the washing.
Each has its twin;
    not one of them is alone.
Your lips are like a scarlet ribbon;
    your mouth is lovely.
Your temples behind your veil
    are like the halves of a pomegranate.
Your neck is like the tower of David,
    built with elegance;
on it hang a thousand shields,
    all of them shields of warriors.
Your two breasts are like two fawns,
    like twin fawns of a gazelle
    that browse among the lilies.”

— Song of Songs 4:1-5

“My lover is radiant and ruddy,
    outstanding among ten thousand.
His head is purest gold;
    his hair is wavy
    and black as a raven.
His eyes are like doves
    by the water streams,
washed in milk,
    mounted like jewels.
His cheeks are like beds of spice
    yielding perfume.
His lips are like lilies
    dripping with myrrh.
His arms are rods of gold
    set with chrysolite.
His body is like polished ivory
    decorated with sapphires.”

— Song of Songs 5:10-14

The beauty within. No one wants to feel like they are only appreciated for their appearance. Sure, we want to be beautiful — but we also want our beauty to go deeper. God has given your mate some special qualities that you appreciate, so name them. Is your honey humorous? Trustworthy? Smart? Handy? Generous? A nurturing parent? Consider what character traits are worth pointing out as reasons you love him or her and write them down.

SAMPLES

“And what a comfort and pleasure it was to me to meet a girl with so much intellectual quality and such strong reserves of noble sentiment.”

— Prime Minister of England, Winston Churchill, to his future wife, Clementine

“I love your verses with all my heart, dear Miss Barrett, — and this is no off-hand complimentary letter that I shall write — whatever else, no prompt matter-of-course recognition of your genius and there a graceful and natural end of the thing: since the day last week when I first read your poems, I quite laugh to remember how I have been turning and turning again in my mind what I should be able to tell you of their effect upon me . . .”

— Poet Robert Browning’s first letter to his poet wife, Elizabeth Barrett Browning

Thank God for your mate. Give thanksgiving to the Creator for the gift of your spouse. In Philippians 1:3, the Apostle Paul says: “I thank my God every time I remember you.” Wouldn’t it be nice to know that your spouse does the same? Let your beloved know that he/she is one of the best blessings God ever gave you.

“I live in a permanent Christmas because God gave me you.”

— Ronald Reagan to Nancy

“Each morning, as I rise
I give thanks to God
For your presence
lying next to my bod”

— “Spock” to J on her birthday

Final tips.

  • Use nicknames if you have them. Winston and Clementine Churchill called each other “Pug” and “Cat” in their letters, and the couple in Song of Songs called each other “Beloved.”
  • Include analogies if you have any. Try it out in your head first by completing statements like “Being with you is like ______” and “You are to me like ____ is to ____.”
  • Stay away from clichés. “Roses are red, violets are blue” ain’t gonna cut it, unless your next two lines are utterly brilliant. Also, her eyes may indeed “sparkle like the stars” but try to come up with something fresh.
  • Gush a little. Yes, it’s okay to write stuff that would make your teenager want to vomit if he/she read it.

Keep it going. One love letter is awesome! Continuing this practice can be a great way to remind yourself why you love your spouse and to be reminded why he/she loves you. The Brownings wrote 574 love letters to one another, and Winston and Clementine Churchill wrote throughout their 57-year marriage. We need to hear now and then not only that we are loved, but why. Love letters are a great way to express that sentiment to your spouse.

I conclude this post with one of my favorite love letters — written by Chris DuBois, Ashley Gorley, and Brad Paisley and recorded by country singer Paisley. DuBois said, “Our goal was to write a song that wasn’t necessarily for songwriter acclaim. It was really just something we could play for our wives, that would touch them.” Great job, hubbies.

Sources: metrolyrics.com; Library Online; Letters of Note; Amazon; Baylor University – The Browning Letters; Marriage Gems; The Boot