Happy Memorial Day to all of the Veterans, Active Duty Military Personnel, and their Families, Loved Ones, and Friends!
Most of you know that my husband and I met while he was a Cryptologist in the Navy. He was stationed in Japan, and so the first three years of our relationship took place over thousands and thousands of miles apart. We used to joke that it would be wonderful to get on the same continent as one another, let alone in the same time zone.
We are proof that relationships can survive the military; 7 years later we married and are now living in Houston. Still, I remember how hard it was to sustain a relationship with someone in the military. Initially we had three months of uninterrupted bliss together in Japan while I was studying abroad in 2003. Once I returned home, we saw one another once every three months for a few weeks at a time. During the day I wrote emails to him, and I would excitedly wake up in the morning knowing that he had sent me emails while I slept. We spoke to one another on the phone several nights a week. Our conversations centered around learning about each other’s day-to-day experiences, talking about memories of Japan together, and counting down the days to when we would be reunited.
What really sustained us and our relationship throughout those years was our handwritten letters. Emails were wonderful for day-to-day, especially since letters would take anywhere from two weeks to several months to arrive (we learned to number our letters because sometimes they would not show up in chronological order). Hearing each other’s voices was the best but speaking to one another everyday was not financially viable. It was the letters that made all the difference—knowing that the other person has handwritten thoughts onto the same paper that is now in your hands.
I thought I would share with you all ways we found to sweeten up our letters. Note that these are all very inexpensive touches, and a lot of them you can make yourself instead of purchasing at the store.
- Scent the paper with perfume/cologne
- Add confetti (store-bought or homemade) to the letter
- Use stickers and stamps to dress it up
- Include small chocolate treats, like the single Ghirardelli chocolates you can buy at cash registers
- Go to a photo booth and have a strip of photos taken (you can also make large letters L-O-V-E and hold them up in each of the photos)
- Include torn-out magazine articles and newspaper clippings or printouts of articles online that you read and found interesting (you can put your thoughts in the side columns and/or use a highlighter)
- Photos of any kind, especially developed ones from a previous trip together
- Learn how to fold your letters in original ways
- Include a Mad Libs sheet (store bought or make your own) and the next time you are on the phone you can fill it out together
- Purchase a journal and mail it back and forth so that you see a chronology of your letters, thoughts, and relationship
- Play a questions game: in each letter include a separate sheet of paper with several random questions on it for your beau to fill out and return with their next letter
- A book that you also purchased for yourself so that you each can read it at the same time (your copy can be from the library)
I would love to hear your ideas for adding that extra something to letters!