When I was first living with my now-wife and trying to show her just how wonderful day-in, day-out life with me would be every day, I would paper our apartment with Post-its before I left for work. “Morning beautiful. Dinner out tonight?” one stuck to the front door of our apartment might read. A cartoon panel of her snoring and me mashing a pillow on my ears followed by a smiley face might be stuck to the bathroom mirror; a paragraph of nonsense might be pasted to her cereal bowl. And more than a few “I love you’s” were stuck to cabinets and, even, if I mastered my cat-burglar-quiet-skills, stuck to her forehead without her noticing.
Of course, the Post-its stopped appearing. The bit wore thin, yes, and so did my wife’s patience for notes slapped to her forehead. Such nonsensical signs of affection were fine in the beginning, but we didn’t need that shit now. Still, there’s something to be said about writing notes to your spouse. Not texts, not emails, but handwritten notes that you spend some time composing. Because these days, the act of writing — of actually writing — is a great way to show someone you really do mean what you say.
Now, I’m not talking about penning your partner James Joyceian love letters every week about how much you love smelling your partner’s farts — but if that’s your style, go for it. What I’m talking about is writing simple notes of a few sentences on days that don’t require you to write someone notes, those random times when your spouse surprises you with their fortitude or grace or whatever made you think “wow, this person really is great.” To take pen to paper (and yes, make it pen and make it decent paper) immediately lets a person know you’re thinking about them in a way that shows you put forth effort.
And effort is what this is all about. A text message doesn’t show that; hell, the whole predictive text thing makes the process mostly automated. An email can be sweet, yes, but it’s an email: the stuff of corporations and spam and Nigerian princes. Sure you can send a well thought out, nicely worded one, but, by very nature of how many you receive, it’s not exceptionally personal. Although you can’t embed .gifs in a handwritten letter.
But you can do something else: express a deeper sentiment. Writing a note by hand shows that you were so compelled to express something that you sat down and worked it out. It shows that you took time to really think about it, to maintain good penmanship, to consider the sentiment and try to put it into words. And did you mess something up? Scribble it out and keep going: an obvious X-ing out of an error immediately shows the reader that you really tried. The only way to do that in an email is to send someone a screenshot of all your previous drafts.
So, write your partner a note. Do it because when was the last time you did? And no, grocery lists or dry-erase calendar updates don’t count. It doesn’t have to be perfect in its use of grammatical principals, or even serious in tone. It just has to be pure and express something you really wanted to say. Because your spouse, whether they know it or not, certainly wants to hear it.