30 Days to a Better Man Day 28: Write a Love Letter

by Brett & Kate McKay on June 27, 2009 · 17 comments

in 30 Days to a Better Man

We previously discussed the idea that every man should strive to be a romantic lover, and how the date is one of a man’s best tools for wooing a lady. A man’s other major tool in the romance department is the love letter. As long as love (and writing utensils) has existed, so has the love letter. It has been the go to way for millions of men throughout history to confess or reiterate their feelings of love for another.

Plenty of women, of course, have and will continue to write love letters. But as the sex that has historically been the “pursuer” in the relationship and often has trouble vocally expressing their feelings, writing love letters has traditionally been the purview of men.

It’s not always easy to express our feelings to our significant others. We’d rather show our love through actions. We feel that our love for someone is manifestly obvious, because after all, don’t we vacuum the house, and mow the lawn, and make them their favorite pancakes every Sunday morning? Our actions show that we’re faithful and true, and to us it feels like this should be enough.

But it’s not quite that way for a woman. Women definitely appreciate our acts of love, but their brains are also quite a bit more language oriented than ours. They want to hear the words behind the actions. They want to know exactly what’s in our hearts.

But it’s hard to not only find the right words to express how we feel about someone, but to also make it flow and sound real purty. It’s especially difficult when you’re sitting down with someone and trying to remember exactly what you wanted to say. Enter the love the letter.

Writing a fantastically romantic love letter can be a challenge, but that’s what you signed up for with this 30 Days project. So let’s get started.

Why Write a Love Letter

Love letters were definitely more popular in the past when soldiers were off fighting the Big One and men left on trips that took them away from their love for months or even years at a time. With the rise of modern means of communication, love letters, and letters generally, have fallen into disfavor.

But as we talked about in our letter writing post, letters have special properties that no modern form of communication can duplicate. It’s something tangible that we touch and hold and then pass to another to touch and hold. And they are preserved and cherished in a way that text messages or email never will be.

The love letters you give your wife or girlfriend are testaments in the history of your love. They constitute a record of your relationship that she’ll hold onto for the rest of her life (unless of course you break her heart and then the letters will give her the satisfaction of having something to burn or line the bird cage with).

Your love doesn’t have to be far away for you to write a letter to her. A love letter is appropriate even when you’re sleeping alongside your special someone every night. It’s a chance to express your feelings in a more ardent way than you do on a day to day basis.

A woman cannot hear too many times that’s she beautiful and that you love her. They’ll never get sick of it. They want to know that you still feel the same way as you did when you first met, heck, the same way you felt last Monday. When the John Edwardses and Mark Sanfords of the world dominate the news, a lady can be forgiven for wanting regular reassurance that you’re not about to go traipsing off to Argentina to cavort with your Latin lover.

How to Write a Love Letter

If you’re particularly in touch with your feelings and a great writer, then love letters may come easily to you. In that case, just sit down with pen and paper and let it rip. If you’re someone who has problems formulating a romantic love letter, we offer the following tips to guide the process.

1. Start off by stating the purpose of your letter. You want your love to know right away that this is a love letter and not a note to give her the brush off or to voice some kind of displeasure with the relationship. Begin with something like, “I was thinking today about how very much I love you, and how I really don’t tell you that enough. So I wanted to sit down and let you know how totally in love with you I really am.”

2. Recall a romantic memory. What’s special about couplehood is that the two of you have a shared history, a history that is unique to you and your love. Thus the best way to start a love letter is to refer to a shared memory; this conjures up feelings of your history together and scores you points for remembering details of your past. For example, begin by saying, “I still remember clearly the moment when you walked into Rob’s party, wearing that stunning red dress. You were smiling ear to ear and absolutely lit up the room. I knew immediately that I had to meet you. I went to the bathroom to try to summon up my courage and think of what to say. But it was no use; I was totally tongue tied when I approached you. I was smitten from the very start.”

3. Now transition to a section about the things you love about her. Move from your memory to the present with a line like, “And here we are more than a decade later, and you still leave me weak in the knees.”

4. Tell her all the things you love about her. Before you write this section, make a list on a separate sheet of paper of all the things you that you love about your significant other. Think about her physical characteristics, her personality, her character, and all the wonderful things she does for you. Then, turn the things you listed into sentences. “I truly think you are the most beautiful women in the world. I love the feeling of your legs intertwined with mine and the smell of your hair and skin. Your smile lifts my spirits on even my worst days. I love your laugh and your ability to find humor in every situation. I’m so grateful for everything you do for me, from your delicious dinners to your magnificent backrubs.”

5. Tell her how your life has changed since meeting her. “You truly complete me. These last few years have been the happiest of my life. I can’t tell you how lucky I feel to always have my best friend by my side.”

6. Reaffirm your love and commitment. “I will always love you, no matter what happens, through thick and thin. I will be absolutely true and faithful to you forever.”

7. End with a line that sums up your love. “I can’t wait to grow old with you.” “My love for you will never end.” “You are my best friend and soul mate and I will love you until the end of our lives.”

It’s okay to err on the side of cheesiness. The most important rule is to be completely authentic. Write only those things that you truly feel. This will prevent the letter from seeming over the top or incongruous with your personality and relationship.

If you need some inspiration before you start writing, read this letter and watch this video that we originally posted in our article about “How to Write a Love Letter Like a Soldier.” The letter was written in 1861 by Sullivan Ballou to his wife Sarah, a week before the Battle of Bull Run:

July the 14th, 1861

Washington D.C.

My very dear Sarah:

The indications are very strong that we shall move in a few days-perhaps tomorrow. Lest I should not be able to write you again, I feel impelled to write lines that may fall under your eye when I shall be no more.

Our movement may be one of a few days duration and full of pleasure-and it may be one of severe conflict and death to me. Not my will, but thine O God, be done. If it is necessary that I should fall on the battlefield for my country, I am ready. I have no misgivings about, or lack of confidence in, the cause in which I am engaged, and my courage does not halt or falter. I know how strongly American Civilization now leans upon the triumph of the Government, and how great a debt we owe to those who went before us through the blood and suffering of the Revolution. And I am willing-perfectly willing-to lay down all my joys in this life, to help maintain this Government, and to pay that debt.

But, my dear wife, when I know that with my own joys I lay down nearly all of yours, and replace them in this life with cares and sorrows-when, after having eaten for long years the bitter fruit of orphanage myself, I must offer it as their only sustenance to my dear little children-is it weak or dishonorable, while the banner of my purpose floats calmly and proudly in the breeze, that my unbounded love for you, my darling wife and children, should struggle in fierce, though useless, contest with my love of country?

I cannot describe to you my feelings on this calm summer night, when two thousand men are sleeping around me, many of them enjoying the last, perhaps, before that of death-and I, suspicious that Death is creeping behind me with his fatal dart, am communing with God, my country, and thee.

I have sought most closely and diligently, and often in my breast, for a wrong motive in thus hazarding the happiness of those I loved and I could not find one. A pure love of my country and of the principles have often advocated before the people and “the name of honor that I love more than I fear death” have called upon me, and I have obeyed.

Sarah, my love for you is deathless, it seems to bind me to you with mighty cables that nothing but Omnipotence could break; and yet my love of Country comes over me like a strong wind and bears me irresistibly on with all these chains to the battlefield.

The memories of the blissful moments I have spent with you come creeping over me, and I feel most gratified to God and to you that I have enjoyed them so long. And hard it is for me to give them up and burn to ashes the hopes of future years, when God willing, we might still have lived and loved together and seen our sons grow up to honorable manhood around us. I have, I know, but few and small claims upon Divine Providence, but something whispers to me-perhaps it is the wafted prayer of my little Edgar-that I shall return to my loved ones unharmed. If I do not, my dear Sarah, never forget how much I love you, and when my last breath escapes me on the battlefield, it will whisper your name.

Forgive my many faults, and the many pains I have caused you. How thoughtless and foolish I have often been! How gladly would I wash out with my tears every little spot upon your happiness, and struggle with all the misfortune of this world, to shield you and my children from harm. But I cannot. I must watch you from the spirit land and hover near you, while you buffet the storms with your precious little freight, and wait with sad patience till we meet to part no more.

But, O Sarah! If the dead can come back to this earth and flit unseen around those they loved, I shall always be near you; in the garish day and in the darkest night-amidst your happiest scenes and gloomiest hours-always, always; and if there be a soft breeze upon your cheek, it shall be my breath; or the cool air fans your throbbing temple, it shall be my spirit passing by.

Sarah, do not mourn me dead; think I am gone and wait for thee, for we shall meet again.

As for my little boys, they will grow as I have done, and never know a father’s love and care. Little Willie is too young to remember me long, and my blue-eyed Edgar will keep my frolics with him among the dimmest memories of his childhood. Sarah, I have unlimited confidence in your maternal care and your development of their characters. Tell my two mothers his and hers I call God’s blessing upon them. O Sarah, I wait for you there! Come to me, and lead thither my children.

Sullivan

After you read the letter listen to a shortened version in this clip from Ken Burn’s Civil War documentary. It is set to the achingly beautiful “Ashokan Farewell.”  The letter begins around 40 second mark:

Hopefully, you are now fully inspired to write your lady a romantic love letter. One need not wait until they are nigh unto death to make their feelings known. Each day could be your last; tell her how you feel right now.

And if you are single, write a love poem to hone your romantic writing skills.

Whatever you do, report back to the Community that you completed the task and how your love reacted to the letter.

{ 17 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Alecia June 27, 2009 at 7:11 pm

Brett: I’ve been reading this blog now for some time and I am always impressed by what you have to say. The internet is greatly improved by your contributions. This is the first article that has really inspired me to comment.

You are absolutely right when you say that us women “want to hear the words behind the actions.” You can be the perfect partner, but a love letter will lighten up a woman’s day more than any other romantic action.

As the fiancee to a soldier in the army, love letters are one of the most important things in my life right now. He is in basic, so we don’t get phone calls at all, only letters. I can honestly say that through these love letters we have become closer and learned more about one another than during all five years we have been together.

Love letters are definitely things that women cherish. I read mine over and over, both personally and to my friends. Many of them, even those that are married, have never gotten a love letter, and they are very envious. Well thought-out and written love letters boost our confidence in both our selves and our relationships. It’s always nice to be told that we are beautiful, but to have it written down just makes it that much more special. Also, the thought that our man has taken the time out of his busy day just to write us reaffirms his level of love and commitment.

My love letters are very special to me, and I plan on keeping them and sharing them with my children when I am older. It will give them an example of how men should treat their women, as well as show them how in love their parents are.

Just remember, guys, be yourselves. I love getting little doodles and cute little sayings off to the sides of my letters. Just because a love letter is a little formal doesn’t mean it has to be stiff. Make the format your own and your woman will love it.

2 jcard21 June 28, 2009 at 7:53 am

Isn’t it wonderful how civil war soldiers (men!) on both sides could express themselves so beautifully? So very much has been lost in education today. Letter-writing should be required of children; thank you notes, too! :-) I believe letter-writing is a learned art, and can be admirably performed by anyone. Habits are built by repetition and purpose.

Love letters don’t always have to be as long as the excellent example in the article. Some can be just one sentence or one paragraph. Some can be a Western Union telegram (before email). Please read:

I Love You, Ronnie: The Letters of Ronald Reagan To Nancy Reagan (© 2000, 2002)

http://www.amazon.com/Love-You-Ronnie-Letters-Ronald/dp/0375760512/

Ronald Reagan not only wrote to Nancy when they were separated. He also would write her a note when they were sitting in the same room! That was a man in love!

3 Dan June 28, 2009 at 8:38 am

@Alecia: I agree with your points, but let me just say, that many guys do not write love letters because they do not want their recipients to do exactly what you do: share them with their friends. Love letters only have one name on them and the owner of that name is the only intended audience for those letters.
I write love letters to my girlfriend all the time, but I would stop right away if she started showing them to her friends.

4 Michael@TheSenderofCards June 28, 2009 at 12:49 pm

Excellent post. Having spent over twenty years in the Army and many times away from my family, I would say that receiving (and sending) love letters is one of the ways my wife and I were able to keep our love for each other. We just recently celebrated our twenty year anniversary. Writing each other “real letters and cards” made it seem that we weren’t so far apart.

I have been out of the Army for several years, but still send a card to my wife quite often. It is also nice to clean out a back corner of the closet and come across a box of old letters. It reminds me of what we had and still have.

5 Julia June 28, 2009 at 4:01 pm

Wonderful, wonderful post. I agree with Dan on the privacy of the letters, the few emails my husband wrote me were for my eyes only and so they remain.

Couldn’t agree more on the “We feel that our love for someone is manifestly obvious” stance by men, and that we women just don’t take it that way. I’ve written love letters and even one erotic letter (gulp! yeah, I did that) and it broke my heart to see my husband destroy them on the reasoning that he had already read them. (I don’t take it personally – he also destroys Christmas and Birthday cards after the event, and he’s had more than one irate word from yours truly after getting through my old mail).

While I wish he would express himself in more elaborate ways (this is, through letters or presents), it is also true that he wishes I’d said “I love you” as often as he does, and that he reads my mood through my actions and hopes me to do the same (the house is a dirty mess = there’s something wrong going on / the house shines, the food is good, I’m feeling very crafty = everything is fine).

Communication in the sense of “fine tunning” is one of the biggest challenges of domestic partnership. Patience, respect and of course love, are the tools to get the tunning done. Don’t you think so?

6 Halim Naeem June 28, 2009 at 9:07 pm

Words have a different meaning to women than to men. Love letters are very direct and potent ways of getting to the female heart. This is a great breakdown and tutorial in a masculine way of how to write a love letter. Hats off to you !!!

7 Jason Y June 29, 2009 at 7:39 am

Thanks for the post! My letters to my wife have been getting kind of dry and repetitive. The ideas you suggest should improve the letter-writing tremendously. Recalling memories especially should be helpful because I’m not normally very active about doing that with her, so I think doing that in a letter will mean a lot to her.

8 Soon to be married June 29, 2009 at 11:08 am

I am very lucky because my fiance is doing this “30 Days to a Better Man” blog. He is already a wonderful and caring man, and this is really making me love him more to see him to interested in improving himself. He writes me sweet cards all the time and always tells me he loves me. I guess I am very lucky and blessed.

9 Biggyrat July 3, 2009 at 2:12 am

I have been writing my wife of twenty four years a love letter at least twice a month for years. She never tires of it, and I will continue to compose those syupy sweet notes. So get yourself some nice stationary gentlemen, and lay it on thick, with numerous pronouncements of ooey-gooey deliciousness. The ladies love it, and the fringe benefits aren’t bad either.

10 Matthew Holz November 30, 2012 at 10:06 am

I have read this page twice now, once out of curiosity and the second to reread and learn from the post. I took the advice at the end and have been writing many love poems to the point where I have many pages of poems. Today I begin writing my first letter to a woman, I do not know my feelings toward her but it is my hope that my feeling will turn to that of love and that those feelings may be mutual. Thanks much for the posts on writing letters, I have done much reading and now it is time to begin.

11 Mandlaka January 3, 2013 at 4:44 pm

I have been coming back to this article for over a year and I still get wowed by it!
Just like Matthew, I am in the very early stages of a new relationship and I intend to use a letter to let this woman know in no uncertain terms what i feel for her. Sure, I could get thrown back but what I know thus far indicates that she is worth that risk.
So thank you so much for putting up this post because I will certainly be back to read and re-read it many time in the coming months and hopefully years.

12 NightSG January 5, 2013 at 7:02 pm

Going to have to agree with Dan on the privacy. I’ve written quite a few love letters that didn’t say even half of what I wanted to say because I knew she was going to show them to at least her mother, and fairly often her sister and others as well.
I’ve got a journal dedicated to all the things I want to say to her and her alone, and I hope she will understand that when it’s full and I give it to her.

13 Goggles January 8, 2013 at 1:32 pm

First time reading this and the responses! I am really impressed at how long this article has help up and am completely awe struck by its information. I plan to use this information very soon. I am curious to ask though of the other individuals here, I am 30 and have been dating the same girl for two months. As far back as I can remember I am always smooth and able to maintain composure on any circumstances. But this girl I cant think straight I completely fail at times and am wondering if maybe I had never known love in the past and is that what this may be? Secondly is it too soon to tell her this, as she has been hinting that she wants me to tell her how much i like her for a day or so now. Any and all help would be awesome!

Time to peruse your member section and join! Again very impressed with the site and hope you keep up with the awesome articles!

14 Richard January 16, 2013 at 6:17 am

I love this article, it really goes into great detail and helps even those of us who have written a few love letters in our time. Also comforting to know that some of the things I write in my letters aren’t just weird or stupid and that it is perfectly natural.

Goggles, I kind of understand how you are feeling. This is happening to me as well and it feels like, as the cliche goes, your world is tipped up-side-down because of her. You forget what to say even if you have planned it all the way up until you actually see her, then your head goes blank because she is just there!!
For me personally, this girl that made me feel this way, I ended up slipping out to her that I loved and I don’t regret it at all.

If you feel it, you feel it & if you are freaking out just remember that you only really need 20 seconds of courage and after that it will be fine =) Good luck man!

15 matthew February 13, 2013 at 10:31 pm

that is the perfect way to write a love letter!! I’ve followed these steps and created a beautiful letter for my love:D thanks

16 Jim March 14, 2013 at 12:45 am

I am currently based away from my partner for 6 months for work. I used your guide to craft my first love letter last week. Thank you!!

17 C.J.P. March 28, 2013 at 6:13 am

I don’t have a girlfriend, wife, lover, fling, or any of that. In fact, I’m nearing the one year mark of being all alone in the world. I have lived the past three years in some pretty austere conditions that make it pretty hard to find a good woman. I am doing the 30 day challenge a bit late but I couldn’t just write a poem (I write a lot of poems and songs already). So I decided to write a love letter to a woman I don’t even know, the woman I’m searching for. I wrote about how I longed to find her and then I sort of transitioned into all the wonderful things that I love about her. I ended by telling her how I longed to meet her and to prove my love to her and become her champion.

I wrote it on parchment with a quill and ink. I rolled it up and tied a gold ribbon around it and put it in a bottle. I took the bottle to a pedestrian overpass that I go hang out on at night when I need to be alone with my thoughts. I placed the bottle under an overhead light and split before anyone saw me.

It felt good to write the letter. Even though whoever picked it up will likely never know me, I reason that perhaps some lonely woman who needed a love letter got one that night. It felt good to me at least.

The only identifier I put on the letter were my initials in closing. I’m thinking about doing this again, though I’m not exactly sure why.

Thanks for the post on this and everything else on AoM. It’s a great site.

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