Last night, I (Anna) came home to three unopened envelopes on the counter. Did Brent get home, retrieve the mail, and then not open any of it? Nope, that was not the case. Those three unopened envelopes were intentionally left for me. He was simply following our fun mail rule we’ve developed over time. And this rule is particularly important during the holiday season, when we receive an abundance of “fun mail” in the form of holiday cards. Allow me to explain.

Fun mail consists of letters, invitations, thank you notes, and packages. I guess you could think of it as all the mail that doesn’t require us to write a check after opening. Who doesn’t love opening fun mail? It’s usually attractive. Colorful. Hand-addressed, even? All of these traits make fun mail pretty much irresistibly inviting. Which was why it became a point of contention in our house earlier in our marriage. Since Brent usually gets the mail from the mailbox, he used to open all of it, including the fun mail (sometimes addressed only to ME!). It didn’t take him long to learn that I like opening my own fun mail. But the problem still existed because he would open all the fun mail addressed to both of us. Eventually, we arrived at this conclusion: Whoever has known the sender of the fun mail best (or sometimes longest) is the designated opener. For example, today we received one card from my friend from graduate school and two others from my college roommates. So, Brent knew to leave them on the counter where I would see them and open them with excitement! Sometimes, though, he still “sneaks” opening one of mine (“you get way more than I do!”).

Rules. They get such a bad rap, don’t they? We tend to think of them as restrictive. But really, I think they’re quite freeing! Mutually developed rules are, in my opinion, one of the keys to relational satisfaction.

P.S. Send me fun mail!