Michigan couple Kathy and Brandon Gunn tied the knot nine years ago, but until May, one wedding present remained unopened in their closet. Kathy took to Facebook to explain why they waited so long to open the gift.
The white box from Alison, Kathy’s great aunt, was accompanied by an envelope reading, “Do not open until your first disagreement.”
“Now, there had obviously been plenty of disagreements, arguments and slammed doors throughout our 9 years,” Kathy’s post read. “There were even a couple of instances where we both considered giving up...but we never opened the box.”
As they enjoyed a glass of wine on their deck in May, contemplating what gift to get for an upcoming wedding in Kalamazoo, Kathy thought about the best gifts she and Brandon had received on their wedding day. She immediately though about Aunt Alison’s unopened gift.
She explained that they had been “too stubborn and determined” to open the present in all these years and that for so long it had felt like opening it would be admitting to some kind of relationship failure. Whenever they fought or disagreed, they became determined to work it out.
“It forced us to reassess situations,” she explained. “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.’”
When they opened the gift, inside were two hand-written notes wrapped around some money, wine glasses, a vase and bath products. The first note told Kathy to use the money to buy a pizza and get a bath ready. The note to Brandon asked him to use the cash to buy flowers and a bottle of wine.
However, for the couple, the symbol of the gift was more valuable than its contents.
“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,” she wrote.
Speaking to the Huffington Post, Kathy talked about the most important marriage lesson she had learned through the years - 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,” Kathy stated. “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.”