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Kathy and Brandon Gunn of Michigan are approaching a decade of married life. That alone is reason to celebrate, but–until this year–the couple still hadn’t opened all of their wedding presents. There was one with special instructions about when it was to be opened, and the Gunn’s–after nine years of marriage–finally pulled it from the closet where they’d stashed it and opened it up.

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The last of their wedding presents,  a white box from Kathy’s great Aunt Alison, had a special set of instructions: “Do not open until your first disagreement.”

“Now, there had obviously been plenty of disagreements, arguments and slammed doors throughout our 9 years,” Kathy wrote explaining why it had taken them 9 years to get to the present. “There were even a couple of instances where we both considered giving up…but we never opened the box.”

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This past May, the Gunns were to attend a wedding, and needed a present. There was one that immediately came to mind, and they had no idea what was even in the box.

Kathy said that she and her husband were “too stubborn and determined” to open the box. Opening it, for them, meant some kind of failure. So long as they could work through the issue, there was no reason to open the box.

“It forced us to reassess situations,” she wrote. “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.’”

 

This is what they wanted to give to their friends–something more valuable than china or towels. The present was a symbol of hope.

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Hope is one thing, and curiosity is another. And if they were going to give the same gift to the new couple, they had to know what was in it. So they opened it.

“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.”

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“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 said. “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.”