Kathy and Brandon Gunn, from Michigan, have been married for nine years, but up until this May, they still had one wedding present sitting unopened in their closet.
The gift of the bride’s great aunt came with an envelope instructing the couple not to open the package until their first argument.
Kathy wrote an article explaining why the couple had waited so long before opening the gift – a white box from Kathy’s great Aunt Alison accompanied by an envelope: “Do not open until your first disagreement.” On August 29, Kathy’s post was featured on the Love What Matters Facebook page, where it has since garnered more than 12,000 likes and 1,500 shares.
“Now, there had obviously been plenty of disagreements, arguments and slammed doors throughout our 9 years,” Kathy wrote in the post. “There were even a couple of instances where we both considered giving up… but we never opened the box.”
In May, the Gunns were enjoying a glass of wine on their deck and thinking about what kind of wedding present to buy for an upcoming wedding in Kalamazoo. That got Kathy thinking about the best gifts she and Brandon had received on their big day nine years ago. The one that came to my mind was Aunt Alison’s unopened gift.
Kathy wrote that they were “too stubborn and determined” to open the box all these years, and had felt for so long that opening it would be some kind of relationship failure. If they fought or disagreed, they were determined to know it.
“It forced us to reassess situations,” she wrote. “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?!? As my Great Uncle Bill would say, ‘Nothing is ever so bad that it couldn’t get worse.’”
The couple in October 2006 — a year before their wedding.
When the couple finally decided to open the box that night, they found two handwritten notes wrapped around some cash, wine glasses, a vase and bath products inside. The note to Kathy instructed her to use the money to buy a pizza and get a bath ready. The note to Brandon addressed to Brandon instructed him to use the cash to buy flowers and a bottle of wine.
The note to Kathy read, “Go get a pizza, shrimp or something you both like.”
The note to Brandon read, “Go get flowers and a bottle of wine.”
Also included in the gift box was a crystal flower vase, two crystal wine glasses, bath soap, lotion, and bubbles.
But more valuable than the contents of the box was what it came to symbolize for the couple.
“For 9 years (and three moves) that box sat high on a shelf in various closets gathering dust, yet it somehow taught us about tolerance, understanding, compromise, and patience.”
She continued: “Our marriage strengthened as we became best friends, partners, and teammates. Today, we decided to open that box, because I finally had a realization. I realized that the tools for creating and maintaining a strong, healthy marriage were never within that box – they were within us.”
Kathy, who has a 6-year-old daughter and a 3-year-old son with Brandon, told The Huffington Post that the most important marriage lesson she has learned over the years is the importance of being a good partner.
“Life throws so many twists and turns at all of us, outside of marriage, and dealing with those problems can be difficult without someone to count on, lean on, confide in or cry with,” she said. “Brandon is my constant. No matter what struggles I am faced with, I know that I can always count on him to be in my corner and me in his. It’s so much easier to get through life when you have someone that will always be there for you and that would do anything for you, no matter the day or time.”
You can read the full Facebook post below:
“Tonight, we tucked our kids in bed and my husband and I enjoyed a glass of wine on the deck. We were talking about how excited we were to attend an upcoming wedding in Kalamazoo (where we met and went to college) and discussing what would be the perfect gift for the newlyweds. So, I thought back to our wedding day (nearly 9 years ago) and tried to recall the gifts that had meant the most to me. The funny thing? The gift that meant the very most was still sitting in a closet… unopened.
On our wedding day, my husband Brandon and I received a gift from my Great Aunt Alison. On the plain white box was a card that read, “Do not open until your 1st disagreement.” Now, there had obviously been plenty of disagreements, arguments and slammed doors throughout our 9 years. There were even a couple of instances where we both considered giving up… but we never opened the box.
I honestly think that we both avoided turning to the box because it would have symbolized our failure. To us, it would have meant that we didn’t have what it takes to make our marriage work – and we’re both too stubborn and determined for that. So, it forced us to reassess situations. 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?!? As my Great Uncle Bill would say, ‘Nothing is ever so bad that it couldn’t get worse.’
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. 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. That box went beyond what I believe my Great Aunt had intended. It was by far the greatest wedding gift of all.
For 9 years (and three moves) that box sat high on a shelf in various closets gathering dust, yet it somehow taught us about tolerance, understanding, compromise, and patience. Our marriage strengthened as we became best friends, partners, and teammates. Today, we decided to open that box, because I finally had a realization. I realized that the tools for creating and maintaining a strong, healthy marriage were never within that box – they were within us.”
What a wonderful story, and what a brilliant gift from Aunt Alison!
The path of love is never straight forward, never easy to navigate. Yet when that love is real, fighting for what you have and wading through the difficult times together is as important as ever saying ‘I love you’ in the first place.