Family members put a lot of thought into their relative’s wedding gifts. Sometimes they buy off the registry, and other times, they get something unique. Either way, the couple usually opens their gift immediately. But one couple in Michigan was different.
Brandon and Kathy Gunn received one present with a mysterious note. They decided not to open it for a whopping nine years. The gift was from Kathy’s great aunt, and it promised to solve their arguments. What was inside? And why did they wait to open it?
Ironically, Their Favorite Gift Was Still Unopened
While Brandon and Kathy talked about wedding gifts, they remembered their personal favorite. Ironically, their best wedding gift still sat in the closet, unopened. Neither Brandon nor Kathy had peeked inside throughout their nine years of marriage.
The couple eventually decided to unwrap that gift one night and discover what lay inside. But the present’s meaning didn’t come from what was inside. The meaning came from the nine years in which the couple refused to open it.
Flashback To The Gunn’s Wedding
Brandon and Kathy Gunn of Northville, Michigan, got married on September 1st, 2007. The two exchanged vows in Jackson with 300 people in the audience. They received hundreds of wonderful wedding gifts, but one stood out.
The gift was from Kathy’s great aunt, Alison. It was a white box with minimal wrapping other than a silver bow. On top of the box, an enclosed letter read, “Do Not Open Until 1st Disagreement.” It was certainly not your typical wedding gift.
Did They Not Have A Disagreement Over Nine Years?
Did the couple not open the present because they’ve never argued?? According to Kathy, that wasn’t the case. “Now, there had obviously been plenty of disagreements, arguments, and slammed doors throughout our nine years,” she wrote on Facebook.
Kathy told ABC News that they “didn’t want to turn to the box because once you open it, you don’t have it. And then what do you do?” What if the present contained something that they needed for a massive argument?
It Was Also A Competition
There was another reason why Kathy and Brandon didn’t open the gift. According to Kathy, they are “very competitive people.” “We love a challenge,” she told ABC News. The box became a strange sort of game to them.
“I honestly think that we both avoided turning to the box because it would have symbolized our failure,” Kathy wrote on Facebook. “And we’re both too stubborn and determined for that.” Neither Kathy nor Brandon wanted to be the first person who “cracked.”
Which Disagreement Was Big Enough?
On top of that, Brandon and Kathy couldn’t agree on which disagreement was “big enough” to warrant opening the gift. “What if this isn’t our worst fight?” Kathy reasoned. “What if there’s a worse one ahead of us, and we don’t have our box?”
The couple thought that if they had opened the box after a disagreement, it would have symbolized “failure.” In fact, Kathy’s Great Uncle Bill often said, “Nothing is so bad that it couldn’t get worse.”
“Have You Opened It Yet?”
Although Kathy and Brandon refused to open their present, that didn’t stop other family members from becoming curious. Aunt Alison herself asked the couple about it two years into their marriage.
When Aunt Alison asked if they had opened it, Kathy admitted that they hadn’t. “She looked at us like we were crazy,” Kathy later said with a laugh. The box quickly became a family joke: the present that the Gunn couple would never open.
The Product Of 50 Years Of Marriage
Aunt Alison’s gift meant a lot to Kathy. She and her grand-niece were very close; Kathy called her a “surrogate grandmother.” Plus, Alison had been married to her husband, Bill, for 50 years.
Bill had passed away in 2004, three years before the Gunn wedding. The loss devastated both Alison and the rest of Kathy’s family. But as a result, Aunt Alison’s gift became more meaningful. Whatever the box contained, it was a product of 50 years of marriage.
One Person Was Not A Fan
While most of the family laughed at Aunt Alison’s unopened gift, one person was not as amused. This was Kathy’s mother, who worried about her daughter leaving the present to gather dust.
“My mom was like, ‘Kathy, what if there’s food in there or something?'” Kathy recalled. They checked with Aunt Alison, who confirmed that there was no food or perishable objects. Still, Kathy’s mom thought it was crazy that she and Brandon hadn’t opened the gift yet.
The Box Gathered Dust For Nine Years
During all of this time, Aunt Alison’s box gathered dust in the couple’s closet. Kathy and Brandon had two kids, a daughter and a son. They also moved three times, and the gift followed them from house to house.
Despite all of the arguments Kathy and Brandon had, they never opened the box. The gift had become too important to them. “We didn’t want to ruin the importance of taking that in by opening it after a silly fight,” Kathy said.
Why They Finally Opened The Gift
That leads us to May 29th, 2016. While discussing gifts for their friend’s wedding, Kathy turned to her husband and said, “We still have the box.” Brandon responded, “If we’ve made it this far, I don’t think we need the box to save us.”
When the Gunns decided that they didn’t need the box, they finally opened it. With much anticipation, the unwrapped the gift that gathered dust in their closet for nine years…and laughed at the contents inside.
So What Was In The Box?
When the Gunns finally opened Alison’s gift, they saw two wine glasses, candles, and an aromatic bath kit. Both Brandon and Kathy laughed at the sight. Had they really waited nine years for a couple of wine glasses and candles?
These objects seemed to be Aunt Alison’s solution to any relationship dispute. However, that wasn’t the most personal part of the gift. Alison also put in two notes, one to Kathy and the other to Brandon.
The More Personal Part Of The Gift
Kathy and Brandon each received a note with their name on it. Kathy’s message read, “Go get a pizza, shrimp, or something you both like. Love, Aunt Alison.” Brandon’s note said, “Brandon, Go get flowers and a bottle of wine. Love, Aunt Alison.”
Both notes encased $200 for the couple to buy their respective gifts for each other. Truly, Alison had wrapped her tried-and-true methods for the couple to make it up to each other after a disagreement.
Wait, That Was It?
In retrospect, the gift seemed pretty lackluster. The Gunns had waited nine years for a few wine glasses, a bath kit, and money. This whole time, the couple had expected it to be–well, more. But the contents of the gift weren’t what made it meaningful.
“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,” Kathy wrote on Facebook. Was it the key?
The Gift’s Meaning Had Evolved Since Then
It wasn’t the contents of the box that taught Kathy and Brandon about marriage; it was the fact that they avoided opening it. Brandon and Kathy learned to work through troubles themselves by not relying on the gift to solve their disagreements.
“That box went beyond what I believe my Great Aunt had intended,” Kathy wrote. “[It] high on a shelf in various closets gathering dust, yet it somehow taught us about tolerance, understanding, compromise, and patience.”
How The Box Helped Their Problems
By remaining unopened, Aunt Alison’s gift somehow helped the Gunns. In an interview with Today, Kathy described how she and Brandon’s struggles evolved. “First, you fight about picking up clothes off the floor, then later you fight about not getting sleep because of colicky babies.”
Each time they had a disagreement, Kathy and Brandon debated over whether to open the box. “We’d say, ‘We think this is a mountain, but maybe it’s a molehill,'” Kathy said.
Deciding They Don’t Need It
Every time Brandon and Kathy debated over the box, they decided that they didn’t need it. They always discovered a way to solve the arguments on their own. Whether the box contained an old secret or a solution, they didn’t know. But they never needed it.
“I realized that the tools for creating and maintaining a strong, healthy marriage were never within that box,” Kathy wrote. “They were within us.” Ironically, not needing the gift is what kept their marriage alive.
Their Story Goes Viral
Kathy didn’t keep this story to herself. After she and Brandon opened the gift, they shared their findings with Facebook. Kathy told her story on the Facebook page, “Love What Matters.”
Her story quickly went viral. The post garnered 18,000 likes, 900 comments, and 4,000 shares. People all over the world found inspiration in the Gunn’s story, commenting on how wise Kathy’s Aunt and Uncle were. Many believe that the gift worked exactly as it was intended to.
The Gift That Keeps On Giving
Kathy told People that she’s surprised at how many people became inspired by her story. “My husband and I are in awe of how much attention this story has garnered,” she said. “It seems to be the gift that keeps on giving!”
Initially, Kathy posted the story to bring attention to her great aunt. Now, Aunt Alison is even more surprised that the Gunn’s at how much her gift has spread. She had not envisioned this when she made the gift nine years ago.
Thanking Her Aunt After Nine Years
After Kathy and Brandon looked at the present, they called Aunt Alison, who lives in Ohio. Kathy told Today that her great aunt was “flabbergasted” and “tickled.” “She thinks that it’s the funniest and the cutest thing because she can’t believe we even hung onto it for that long.”
“She also thought it was a great story, but she thought we were crazy,” Kathy continued. Aunt Alison knew it was a special gift, but she didn’t realize how special it had become.
The Gunn’s Advice On Couple Disagreements
Kathy and Brandon Gunn received the gift to learn how to handle disagreements. Now that so much time has passed, they can share their advice. In an interview with People, Kathy said that all couples need a strong foundation.
“For the little things, learn how to disagree and move on,” she said. “For the bigger things, learn how to get mad and get over it. Giving up was never an option in our situation because we never had the illusion that marriage was going to be easy.”
What’s The Takeaway?
There are many lessons that come from wise Aunt Alison’s gift. But for Kathy, the most important lesson is to put things into perspective. “It really forced us, every time we had a disagreement, to think about the bigger picture and ask, ‘Is it really that big of a deal?'” she told Today.
“I hope it will inspire people to reassess their situations and think about their love—why they got married in the first place.”