Love letters used to be an age-old staple of romancing, and while they were once a necessity, they're now seen as an antiquated frivolity. Now, you can send pictures of your naked body to people you just met on the internet.
Boiling down the love letter to its essence, though, is the love note. It's easy and thoughtful, and not so overdone that it reads as insincere. A love note gets right to the point. And while it might only be at the top of my mind because of Peter Kavinsky in To All the Boys I've Loved Before, I still figured the gesture was sweet enough to try with my wife for a week to see what happened.
I had three rules in place:
- They had to be short and sweet. I was going to keep this Kavinsky-style, which meant no multi-page letters stapled together. No long poems–just cute observations or things about my wife that I appreciate. The couple's equivalent of a fortune cookie. Quick and simple.
- I would keep it to one letter a day. If I wrote a bad note, I wouldn't get any kind of do-over.
- I wouldn't tell my wife why I’m doing this. Being clocked for stealing a high schooler's moves would take the fun out of it!
I was most nervous about my first note; this was the one that would broach the whole concept. The last thing I wanted to do was hand my wife a scrap of paper and have her go, "What the fuck is this? I don’t have time for this shit," as I watched her throw it into the garbage. I figured I would keep it simple, especially since I was about to hand it to her at 6 AM before work. It'd be a lot to take in otherwise.
Passing someone a note is wholly dependent on context. It makes sense for high schoolers–you can't use your phone or talk in class, or maybe you're about to pass each other briefly in the hallway–but it's not quite the same for two adults standing in their own kitchen, which is where I decided to give my wife her first note.
It read, "Thanks for waking up early and making coffee." I can hear you booing me already. But I felt this was perfectly in line with Kavinsky's style. Not sloppily romantic, but something real and heartfelt. I really did appreciate her making coffee. She got up earlier than me and had to make it, bleary-eyed, while I woke up to a fresh pot. Whatever. I'm done justifying my note to y'all. The important thing was my wife's reaction.
She seemed a bit annoyed at first and didn't seem fazed. "Ok, great. You're welcome." But here's the key: She kept it. She didn't throw it away, or leave it on the counter. She tucked it in her back pocket before she left for work. It was something she kept with her. Sure, it wasn't a lot. But it was a little reminder of me, I think. I would take that as a small victory.
Day Two was where I'd be establishing a pattern. There was a lot of pressure. If she was going to realize this was for work, it would be way more obvious with the second note.
Beyond that, I realized that keeping the notes appreciative instead of cheesily swoony made the most sense. They were the most heartfelt! While it's easy to spit out different variations of "I love you" over and over again, I wanted to tell my wife why I loved her.
I gave her a note about how I loved watching her play with our son. I think it still caught her by surprise when I handed it to her. This time, she just thanked me for it. I think she wanted to ask about it, but why ruin it?
I gave her a note thanking her for keeping me eating healthy (I fall off the wagon a lot). It was another early morning note, and it felt like part of our morning routine at this point. She's my support system, but it's not like I have something horrible happen to me every day and I need her to come swooping in. Some days, I just need her to tell me not to eat a donut and count that as lunch. She laughed at it and told me I was being silly, but deep down, she knew she's my rock.
My wife actually asked me where her note was that day. I told her they don't all have to come at breakfast. I figured it was good to switch things up. At this point, she definitely had an idea that something was going on. At the very least, she mentioned that this was just like To All the Boys I Loved Before. I slid her one at dinner to let her know I loved coming home to her.
I got slick and hid a note in her purse for her to find later. I don't know how she reacted, but I'm sure it was positive. She didn't mention the note, but it wasn't in her purse when I checked later that day. I told her that I always hope that every day she has the best day possible because she deserves it. Make fun of me all you want, but I KNOW she liked that one.
I used this note to ask her on a date. Just a simple, "Can I take you on a date tonight?" She said yes. We went out to a local restaurant. She thought it was cute, but I can't use that one too often or it'll lose its magic.
I wrote her a note that said, "You get more beautiful every day." She rolled her eyes at this one and said she didn't believe me, but I hope she knows I'm serious about it.
Even with the experiment over, I'm going to strive to keep doing this daily. Although I know it'll most likely be impossible to keep the streak going forever, I want to try. My wife really likes them, which means that by proxy, I like writing them. As with gifts, it's better to give instead of receive.
The reason notes have such an appeal is you can archive them. My wife can stick them in a drawer or a scrapbook. She can look back and see all the things I loved about her then and the things that were important.
Peter Kavinsky was onto something. I love and appreciate my wife, and it's nice to take time out of my day to make sure she knows that. Is it cheesy? Sure. But sometimes cheesy is good.
This article originally appeared on Cosmopolitan.com. Minor edits have been made by the Cosmo.ph editors.