Earlier this week, Love What Matters — a website, podcast series, and social media movement which has dedicated its various platforms and pages to celebrating the “moments in life that matter” — shared a beautiful, yet honest, post about love and marriage and everything in between. In fact, the story, submitted by Kathy Gunn, was so inspiring that, less than 24 hours after the post went live, it had garnered more than 10,000 reactions and comments and had been shared more than 1300 times. Why? Because Kathy’s post was sappy and sentimental, candid and raw.
Because Kathy’s story proved that, while marriage is hard work — all relationships are hard work — sometimes we simply need perspective to survive.
Sometimes we simply need a little reminder of what “matters” to make it work.
The post began as Kathy recounted a moment she and her husband, Brandon, shared one night after putting their children to bed:
Tonight, we tucked our kids in bed and my husband and I enjoyed a glass of wine on the deck. 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.
However, while Kathy and her husband debated numerous gift options, it was remembering her own wedding which inspired her. It was remembering the gift which had meant the world to Kathy and Brandon that changed the course of their evening:
[I] 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.
Because this gift wasn’t an unused KitchenAid or a set of monogrammed bath towels. This gift was an ideal.
This gift was a message:
On our wedding day, my husband Brandon and I received a gift from my Great Aunt Alison. On the plain white box was a card that read, “Do not open until your 1st disagreement.” Now, 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?!?
Of course, Kathy and Brandon had no idea what was in the box: it was still wrapped and sealed. However, the couple assumed “the contents of…[the] box held the key to saving a marriage – an age old trick – unbeknownst to us rookies.” So they never touched it. They wanted to keep this relationship-saving trick in their back pocket.
But on this evening, Kathy and Brandon decided to open the box, the box that “sat high on a shelf in various closets gathering dust, yet somehow taught…[them] about tolerance, understanding, compromise and patience.” The box that, without being opened, had helped to strengthen their marriage. And what they found inside that box shocked them.
They found two wine glasses, two notes, and some money: money to buy wine and flowers and food. Money to spend on one another to help them reconnect.
It was then that Kathy and Brandon realized the power of that box. It was then they realized the purpose of the box:
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.
Because no matter what they found in that box, the idea behind it — and the sentiment it conveyed — made Kathy and Brandon work harder and stronger. It made their marriage one many can relate and aspire to.
© 2016 Kimberly Zapata, as first published on Sammiches & Psych Meds