In an age of emails and texts, it's rare that we sit and reflect on our relationships the way couples used to do in love letters. To inspire you (or your next Tinder opener), here's an intimate look at the romantic words exchanged between iconic couples throughout history, from Abigail and John Adams to Johnny and June Carter Cash.
December 23, 1782
My Dearest Friend,
…should I draw you the picture of my heart it would be what I hope you would still love though it contained nothing new. The early possession you obtained there, and the absolute power you have obtained over it, leaves not the smallest space unoccupied.
I look back to the early days of our acquaintance and friendship as to the days of love and innocence, and, with an indescribable pleasure, I have seen near a score of years roll over our heads with an affection heightened and improved by time, nor have the dreary years of absence in the smallest degree effaced from my mind the image of the dear untitled man to whom I gave my heart.
Even in bed my ideas yearn towards you, my Immortal Beloved, here and there joyfully, then again sadly, awaiting from Fate, whether it will listen to us. I can only live, either altogether with you or not at all. Yes, I have determined to wander about for so long far away, until I can fly into your arms and call myself quite at home with you, can send my soul enveloped by yours into the realm of spirits — yes, I regret, it must be. You will get over it all the more as you know my faithfulness to you; never another one can own my heart, never — never! O God, why must one go away from what one loves so, and yet my life in W. as it is now is a miserable life. Your love made me the happiest and unhappiest at the same time. At my actual age I should need some continuity, sameness of life — can that exist under our circumstances? Angel, I just hear that the post goes out every day — and must close therefore, so that you get the L. at once. Be calm — love me — today — yesterday.
What longing in tears for you — You — my Life — my All — farewell. Oh, go on loving me — never doubt the faithfullest heart
Of your beloved
Out of the depths of my happy heart wells a great tide of love and prayer for this priceless treasure that is confined to my life-long keeping.
You cannot see its intangible waves as they flow towards you, darling, but in these lines you will hear, as it were, the distant beating of the surf.
I look down the tracks and see you coming—and out of every haze & mist your darling rumpled trousers are hurrying to me—Without you, dearest dearest I couldn't see or hear or feel or think—or live—I love you so and I'm never in all our lives going to let us be apart another night. It's like begging for mercy of a storm or killing Beauty or growing old, without you. I want to kiss you so—and in the back where your dear hair starts and your chest—I love you—and I can't tell you how much—To think that I'll die without your knowing—Goofo, you've got to try [to] feel how much I do—how inanimate I am when you're gone—I can't even hate these damnable people—Nobody's got a right to live but us—and they're dirtying up our world and I can't hate them because I want you so—Come Quick—Come Quick to me—Lover, Lover, Darling—Your Wife
...And when the wind blows and the rains fall and the sun shines through the clouds (as it is now) he still resolves, as he did then, that nothing so fine ever happened to him or anyone else as falling in love with Thee—my dearest heart.
Diego, my love,
Remember that once you finish the fresco we will be together forever once and for all, without arguments or anything, only to love one another.
Behave yourself and do everything that Emmy Lou tells you.
I adore you more than ever. Your girl, Frida
Dearest Angel Girl:
...I suppose most of us are lonely in this big world, but we must fall tremendously in love to find it out. The cure is the discovery of our need for company — I mean company in the very special sense we've come to understand since we happened to each other — you and I. The pleasures of human experience are emptied away without that companionship — now that I've known it; without it joy is just an unendurable as sorrow. You are my life — my very life. Never imagine your hope approximates what you are to me. Beautiful, precious little baby — hurry up the sun! — make the days shorter till we meet. I love you, that's all there is to it.
I don't know how to tell you just how much I miss you. I love you till my heart could burst. All I love, all I want, all I need is you—forever. I want to be just where you are and be just what you want me to be. I know it's lousy of me to be so late so often, and I promise to try a million times harder, I promise. Love, Marilyn
That's really nice June. You've got a way with words and a way with me as well.
The fire and excitement may be gone now that we don't go out there and sing them anymore, but the ring of fire still burns around you and I, keeping our love hotter than a pepper sprout.
Happy Birthday Princess,We get old and get use to each other. We think alike. We read each others minds. We know what the other wants without asking. Sometimes we irritate each other a little bit. Maybe sometimes take each other for granted. But once in awhile, like today, I meditate on it and realize how lucky I am to share my life with the greatest woman I ever met. You still fascinate and inspire me.You influence me for the better. You're the object of my desire, the #1 Earthly reason for my existence. I love you very much. Happy Birthday Princess. John
happiness is within you....so unlock the chains from your heart and let yourself grow—
like the sweet flower you are.....
I know the answer—
Just spread your wings and set yourself
Love to you forever
My darling (my still) My husband,
I wish I could tell you of my love for you, of my fear, my delight, my pure animal pleasure of you — (with you) — my jealousy, my pride, my anger at you, at times. Most of all my love for you, and whatever love you can dole out to me — I wish I could write about it but I can't. I can only 'boil and bubble' inside and hope you understand how I really feel.
Anyway I lust thee, Your (still) Wife.
P.S. O'Love, let us never take each other for granted again!
P.P.S. How about that — 10 years!
You're off, by God! I can barely believe it since I am so unaccustomed to anybody leaving me. But reflectively I wonder why nobody did so before. All I care about–honest to God — is that you are happy and I don't much care who you'll find happiness with. I mean as long as he's a friendly bloke and treats you nice and kind. If he doesn't I'll come at him with a hammer and clinker. God's eye may be on the sparrow but my eye will always be on you. Never forget your strange virtues. Never forget that underneath that veneer of raucous language is a remarkable and puritanical LADY … Try and look after yourself. Much love.
Aboard Air Force One
March 4 1983
Dear First Lady
I know tradition has it that on this morning I place Happy Anniversary cards on your breakfast tray. But things are somewhat mixed up. I substituted a gift & delivered it a few weeks ago.
Still this is the day, the day that marks 31 years of such happiness as comes to few men. I told you once that it was like an adolescent's dream of what marriage should be like. That hasn't changed.
You know I love the ranch but these last two days made it plain I only love it when you are there. Come to think of it that's true of every place & every time. When you aren't there I'm no place, just lost in time & space.
I more than love you, I'm not whole without you. You are life itself to me. When you are gone I'm waiting for you to return so I can start living again.
Happy Anniversary & thank you for 31 wonderful years.
I love you
Your Grateful Husband