Most newly married couples receive presents from their nearest and dearest; it’s a time-honored tradition. Popular gifts include household items and other things you believe will be useful as they start their journey together. Others include heartfelt gifts with emotional value.
I remember vividly the day I got married. Even a few months after the date, we still had presents to be put together and gift cards to spend. It’s why Brandon and Kathy Gunn’s tale caught my attention. Because this particular couple had gone nine entire years without unwrapping one particular wedding gift.
The pair’s present was hidden in a white parcel which they had placed in their cupboard. Alison, Kathy’s great aunt had presented them with it on their wedding, and on an attached envelope she had warned: “Do not open until the first disagreement” …
On receiving Alison’s present, the Gunns promised they’d faithfully follow her instructions and leave the package unwrapped. Sure, Brandon and Kathy had tiffs and disagreements once in a while—what couple doesn’t—yet neither wanted to unwrap the gift until they had to. After all, they’d promised.
Kathy had shared a post outlining why they’d left the present unwrapped: “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.’”
Only one evening recently did things change. The couple had kissed their kids goodnight and were sipping wine together. They began chatting about a wedding which they’d soon go to in the University town where they’d crossed paths.
As they chatted, the couple started brainstorming gift ideas for what could give the soon-to-be newlyweds. At that moment, Kathy remembered their own special day, and how one particular present had always stayed in their minds.
“The funny thing? The gift that meant the very most was still sitting in a closet… unopened,” she posted. Aunt Alison’s gift had sat in the cupboard throughout three moves, for almost a decade. Over time, the Gunns had been too frightened to unwrap in lest another, more important situation arise. That night, though, while they chatted about potential wedding gifts, Brandon and Kathy agreed the time had come at long last.
Inside, they discovered two notes, in Alison’s handwriting. One was for Kathy, and the other for Brandon. Together with the notes was a little money.
“Go get a pizza, shrimp or something you both like,” Kathy’s message said, and the note for Brandon instructed, “Go get flowers and a bottle of wine.”
Inside, Aunt Alison had also put a pair of wine glasses and a vase, both from crystal. As they looked, the couple saw lotion, bath bubbles, and body wash. All had been put in by Kath’s aunt so that they could make up from any fight they may have had.
But none of the tangible objects had as big an impact on Kathy as the sweet and kind message that Alison had put into them.
“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,” wrote Kathy. “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.”
For nine years, the present had been there, tempting them. It had taught both of them patience, compromise, and mutual understanding where they could have easily ripped it open on their first fight.
As it turned out, Kathy and Brandon didn’t need to unwrap the present when they’d fought, but instead when they were as strong as ever.