1. Mail is slow. First class mail will average 10 days and may take up to 20 days. Plan ahead for special dates and mail early for birthdays, anniversaries, and holidays.
2. Write often. Letters do not have to be long, but writing often is important. If that is difficult supplement with greeting cards. Getting short letters often is better than getting long letters occasionally.
3. Number letters. The roundabout means by which mail reaches the units sometimes and the fact that it arrives in bulk means that several letters may be received at once or out of sequence. Numbering envelopes and dating letters is very important.
4. Keep things upbeat. By all means, let your loved one know about problems at home, but don't send a letter full of complaints and gripes. Explain any problems clearly and concisely, and include how you intend to resolve the situation. Interject all letters with amusing stories of your family's daily activities.
5. Include pictures.
6. Write self-contained letters. Don't close letters without resolving issues. Never promise to finish a story or provide resolution 'with the next letter' because you don't know how long it will take that letter to find your loved one.
7. Vary your routine. Try not to send just letters, nor just greeting cards. Mix things up a bit. Send a few letters, then a card or two, and so on. While it may seem a minor point, to a deployed Marine or Sailor, it makes a world of difference for them to know you're putting thought into your correspondence.
8. Never write in anger. There may be times when frustration and tension build up and the best way to release it is in a letter. However, before you send out that 'flamer,' let it sit for a day or so. Give yourself time to cool down and think things over, and after a while, things might not be so bad after all. If you do feel the need to vent, do so calmly, telling your loved one how you feel and why.
9. Say what they want to hear. I love you! I miss you!