Kathy and Brandon Gunn were honored when Kathy’s Great Aunt Alison gave them a gift on their wedding day, but unlike all the other presents they received, they weren’t actually allowed to open up this particular gift. Attached to the plain white box was a card that came with strict instructions not to open it until they reached a very important milestone – their very first argument as a married couple.
Although it was a strange request, Kathy and Brandon abided by Aunt Alison’s wishes, to the point that they didn’t even reach for the box when they almost gave up on the marriage for good. Like most couples, they had many disagreements over the years, but it wasn’t until 9 years after they first got married that Kathy and Brandon finally decided it was time to peek inside the box and see what the mystery was all about.
Kathy and Brandon were actually experiencing a moment of wedded bliss when they decided to break the rules and open Aunt Alison’s wedding gift. Their kids had been tucked into bed, and they were enjoying a glass of wine on the deck when they remembered “the box” from their wedding. As Kathy described on Love What Matters:
“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.”
It wouldn’t sit there for much longer! After unwrapping their gift, the couple found a note addressed to each of them along with some cash. Kathy’s note read:
“Kathy, got get a pizza, shrimp, or something you both like. Go get a bath ready.”
Brandon was instructed to use his cash to buy some flowers and a bottle of wine. It didn’t take much imagination for them to figure out what they were supposed to do next!
Kathy explained that they avoided turning to the box when they were having a disagreement because it would somehow symbolize their 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.'”
Kathy said that they assumed the contents of the box held the key to save their marriage. That it must have held a trick that was unknown to rookies like them. After all, her Great Aunt and Uncle had been married for nearly half a century at that point.
Of course, Kathy and Brandon weren’t disappointed in the least to find something so brilliantly simple inside the box.
“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.”
The couple believed the box saved them, and according to Kathy, it served its function long before they ever opened it. “That box went beyond what I believe my Great Aunt had intended. It was by far the greatest wedding gift of all.”