When a young couple got married, they received a wedding gift they were told not to open. The aunt who had given it to them said there was only one condition in which they could ever see what was inside. After nearly 9 years, they finally open it and made a stunning realization.
Although Kathy and Brandon Gunn had been married for almost 9 years, they still had one wedding present that had remained unopened. The gift, a white box which sat atop a shelf in their closet, was given to the Michigan couple by the bride’s great Aunt Alison.
It came with strict instructions scrawled across an envelope attached to the package. It said, “Do not open until first disagreement.” The couple was determined to honor Aunt Alison’s request, but over the years, they refused to open the package for a different reason than she had intended.
Of course, the couple had their fair share of disagreements during their marriage, but they still chose not to open Aunt Alison’s present. In a post penned by Kathy on Facebook, she explained why she and her husband had waited so long to open the gift.
Kathy admitted that there had been “plenty of disagreements, arguments, and slammed doors” over their years as husband and wife. “There were even a couple of instances where we both considered giving up,” she added, “but we never opened the box.”
That all changed one night after Kathy put her and Brandon’s 6-year-old daughter and a 3-year-old to bed. With their children tucked in for the night, the couple retreated to their deck to enjoy a glass of wine. They began to discuss an upcoming wedding they were to attend in Kalamazoo, where they had met and gone to college.
While talking about how excited they were for the trip, the conversation soon turned to Kathy and Brandon discussing what present they should get the husband and wife to be. As they tried to decide on the perfect gift for the newlyweds, Kathy thought back to her own wedding day and tried to recall which gifts meant the most to her.
“The funny thing? The gift that meant the very most was still sitting in a closet… unopened,” Kathy wrote. According to Kathy, she and Brandon were “too stubborn and determined” to open the box. Seeing it as a symbol of failure, they avoided it. “To us, it would have meant that we didn’t have what it takes to make our marriage work,” she explained.
With every disagreement, the gift forced them to reassess the situation. “Was it really time to open the box? What if this isn’t our worst fight? What if there’s a worse one ahead of us and we don’t have our box?” they questioned each time they considered opening the box.
“As my Great Uncle Bill would say, ‘Nothing is ever so bad that it couldn’t get worse,'” Kathy said. So, for nearly 9 years and 3 moves, the box sat high on a shelf in their various closets, gathering dust. But, sitting on their deck and discussing their friend’s upcoming wedding, Kathy and Brandon decided it was time to open the box.
Inside, they found two hand-written notes — one for Kathy and one for Brandon — wrapped around some cash. “Go get a pizza, shrimp or something you both like,” the note to Kathy read, while Brandon’s told him to “Go get flowers and a bottle of wine.”
The gift also contained a crystal flower vase, two crystal wine glasses, bath soap, lotion, and bubbles, all of which were obviously meant to smooth over any ill feelings during their first disagreement. That box, however, contained something more valuable than Aunt Alison had ever intended.
“All along, we assumed that the contents of that box held the key to saving a marriage – an age-old trick – unbeknownst to us rookies,” Kathy said. “After all, my Great Aunt and Uncle had been married for nearly half a century. So, we thought the box would save ‘us’ – and in a way it did.”
As the box sat unopened, year after year, causing the couple to re-evaluate whether each argument was “bad enough” to require the help they assumed the gift contained, Kathy and Brandon Gunn learned tolerance, understanding, compromise, and patience. They could finally open the gift because they realized their marriage was strong.
“Our marriage strengthened as we became best friends, partners, and teammates,” Kathy wrote after realizing she and her husband didn’t need the box anymore. “The tools for creating and maintaining a strong, healthy marriage were never within that box – they were within us.”