Couple credits unopened wedding gift to saving their marriage

Posted September 25

NORTHVILLE, Mich. — Sometimes a gift can mean more when it remains unopened.

That sentiment rings true for a Michigan couple, who credit a mystery wedding present from the bride’s aunt for helping them through the most difficult parts of their nine-year marriage.

Kathy and Brandon Gunn were preparing to attend a friend’s wedding this spring, but couldn’t decide on the perfect gift for the newlyweds, according to Today. So they put their kids to bed, sat on their porch and started reminiscing about their own wedding day.

“I thought back to our wedding day (nearly 9 years ago) and tried to recall the gifts that had meant the most to me,” Kathy Gunn wrote in a Facebook post. “The funny thing? The gift that meant the very most was still sitting in a closet… unopened.”

So what was this life-altering gift? Here’s a hint: It wasn’t a blender.

Kathy’s great aunt Alison arrived at the couple’s reception with a box and a card that read, “Do NOT open until 1st disagreement.” The couple figured it contained some kind of advice, considering Aunt Alison had been married for 50 years before her husband died.

The past nine years brought plenty of arguments, fights and disagreements, Gunn told Today. There were times both wanted to give up, but they kept the box unopened in their closet as a symbol of what they could overcome.

“When you first get married there are growing pains: learning how to live with someone else, finding out their crazy quirks,” Gunn told Today. “The issues change depending on how long you’ve been married and what’s going on in your life… first you fight about picking up clothes off the floor, then later you fight about not getting sleep because of colicky babies.”

Though Kathy and Brandon had no clue as to what the box might contain, they could never bring themselves to actually find out.

“I honestly think that we both avoided turning to the box, because it would have symbolized our failure,” Kathy wrote. “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 for that.”

The box, Gunn said, forced them to “reassess situations.”

“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 wrote. “Our marriage strengthened as we became best friends, partners, and teammates.”

So the night of their wedding gift discussion, the Gunns finally decided that the box had carried them far enough, and finally took the plunge to find out what was inside, Today reported. Together, they pulled off the bow and opened the lid — and immediately burst out laughing.

The legendary gift contained money for wine, food and flowers — along with wine glasses and candles. For many, the perfect remedy for a struggling marriage. For the Gunns, so much more.

“I finally realized that the tools for creating and maintaining a strong, healthy marriage were never within that box — they were within us,” Gunn wrote.

Kathy Gunn’s Facebook post, along with photos of the box’s contents, has garnered more than 22,000 reactions and nearly 3,700 shares. People can’t seem to get enough of this “perfect” gift.

“I think it worked just the way your aunt intended it to,” wrote one commenter. “You didn’t open it at your ‘first disagreement,’ but left it on the shelf where you had to see it every time you opened that closet. It was a silent reminder to you both.”

So what does the great Aunt Alison think of all the fuss?

“She was flabbergasted and tickled,” Gunn told Today. “She thinks that it’s the funniest and the cutest thing, because she can’t believe we even hung onto it for that long.”

Jessica Ivins is a content manager for and contributor to the Motherhood Matters section.


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