Ten Years Later, We Still Send ‘Love Letters’ Every Day
How my husband and I cope with having opposite schedules
Today, Katie Couric’s Wake-Up Call newsletter is featuring an essay from Jamie Stelter, traffic anchor & co-host of NY1’s “Mornings On 1,” on the daily love letters she and her husband Brian send each other.
“goooooood morning, my love! T-minus 10 days til our trip! hope you’re sleeping soundly.
sunny is sleeping well… story started fussing at 10 and sunny shouted ‘story, i’m trying to sleep!’ — it was adorable — so I picked him up and soothed him. sut right now he’s okay.
how’s the love letter essay coming along? can I help with it some more?”
It’s going well now that you just gave me my lede! Thanks, honey.
That was part of the love letter Brian wrote me on Sunday night before he went to bed. It was the first thing I read when my alarm went off at 2:40 a.m. on Monday. His email is the first thing I read every morning — normally when he’s lying next to me in bed, fast asleep. We started writing to each other when we were dating, almost 10 years ago now, before we officially shared a bed or a home or had two tiny humans.
I do the traffic on the morning news, so I have to be in the hair and makeup chair at 3:30 a.m. I’ve had these hours for basically my entire career (10 of which have been at NY1); I wouldn’t trade them for the world. I’m a morning person. Brian… not so much. He anchors a show on CNN every Sunday morning and writes a newsletter six nights a week, which usually publishes around midnight. Then, he gets to work on his love letter.
The emails have changed quite a bit over time, but we’ve never stopped writing them. And we’ve never stopped calling them love letters. Brian estimates that we’ve written about 600,000 sweet words back and forth.
Of course, some days are sweeter than others. What started as flirty emails full of song lyrics and plans for movie and dinner dates have morphed into diaries of our lives and, sometimes, workmanlike hand-off notes — full of kids’ antics, babysitter logistics, and Amazon orders. “Can you make sure they send up my Rent the Runway deliveries?” “Don’t forget to get that approval from PR for the panel they asked us to do.” “I have a dentist appointment right after work then I’m hoping to come home and work out.” A little less flirty, but still just as vital to our lives. And it makes the “I love you’s” at the end even sweeter.
For a taste of what they — and we! — used to be, I dug through the massive archives and landed on this one from February 2012. In between plans for a healthy Super Bowl party, and counting down to our first vacation together to Barcelona, was this:
“i’m still stuffed with clams from last night. it was so great seeing your friends. i really meant what i said in the cab afterward: i will never love anyone else the way i love you. i couldn’t — my heart would reject it like it would reject a bad transplant. and i’ll keep showing that to you every day with my actions. lighter: wanna watch the office after work today so we can find out what that tweet meant?”
Yes, he actually talks like this. Love talk. It’s how these emails came to be called love letters. And the love part is important. But it’s the letter part that has kept us connected through crazy and oftentimes opposite schedules, and given us a safe space to say everything we’ve wanted to say to each other over the years. Good and bad.
In our early years of dating, these letters allowed Brian to be as “MG” as we called it, short for mushy gushy, because I couldn’t handle that kind of love talk in person. I had just gotten out of a long relationship that ended badly, so he was teaching me — through these love letters — what it looked like to love and be loved, properly and thoroughly. He taught me how to accept compliments and be MG, and why both of those things are important to lasting love. We use the term “keyboard warrior” these days as a bad thing, when people tweet things that they would never say to someone’s face. But these love letters proved to be wildly successful for that same reason, because he was able to tell me how he felt, and I could do the same, without the fear of rejection or eye rolls.
In more recent years, our love letters have allowed us to hash out more complicated and sometimes sensitive topics — from how to put an end to Sunny’s pacifier to some of the invisible and emotional labor that I felt I was taking on after Story was born. It helps to write things out and form cohesive thoughts before hitting send, especially when angry or upset, so you don’t say something you’ll regret in the heat of an argument. But even when he tells me he’s disappointed about something, or I tell him I’m mad about the messy house, they’re still love letters, because we always end on a positive.
We start a new thread every week, so usually Brian picks the subject line on Sunday night. “New chapter.” “Double the fun.” “Dreams coming true.” “Strong heart.” “I’m in L.A., trick.” “You are my sunshine.” “Breaking news!” “Let’s go on a date.” A lot of the time he is previewing the week ahead: “FLY Eagles fly!” “Snow day!” “Welcome to June!” “Top of the morning!” We use a lot of exclamation points. (Sorry not sorry.) Once in a while he’ll fall asleep on the couch or have some other excuse for not meeting my 2:40 a.m. deadline. I like to start the thread those weeks — and pick the subject line! — plus I get to needle him for not emailing first. I tell him about my hopes for the week and we go back and forth about our to-do’s.
Next week we’ll be married six years, and I don’t take it for granted that we’re still very much in love. I credit at least some of that to our love letters. He never gave up on me, or us, and that consistency is key. So take a note from us: tell that special person that you love them every single day. And if you’re too nervous to do it in person, say it in a love letter.
This originally appeared in Katie Couric’s Wake-Up Call newsletter. Subscribe here.