Couple learns true value of mysterious wedding present

NORTHVILLE, Mich. -- Brandon and Kathy Gunn of Northville, Michigan, have been married for nine years -- and yet they just recently opened their last wedding present.

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Brandon and Kathy Gunn

CBS News

“It was by far the greatest gift because it taught us so many lessons about how to be married,” Kathy said.

The present was from Kathy’s great aunt Alison and it came with a card that read “Do not open until first disagreement.”

“Break in case of emergency, I hope this works,” Brandon said.

They say they needed it many times, but never opened it.

“You kind of wonder, is it time to turn to the box? Should we open the box? Do we need it right now? But, what if the next spat is worse and we didn’t have the box, then what?” Kathy said.

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Kathy and her great aunt Alison

Kathy Gunn

So it sat on the top shelf of the kitchen pantry, through all the arguments about dishes left undone, through stress and slamming doors, even when they thought it wasn’t worth it anymore, Brandon and Kathy refused to surrender to that last wedding present.

They finally opened the gift just recently. Not because they were fighting, but because they weren’t. And hadn’t for quite some time.

After nine years of successfully resolving their differences, Brandon and Kathy were confident they would never really need the contents.

What they found was remarkably unremarkable. Some money for flowers and wine, some bath salts, nothing that could really stop a fight at all.

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The contents of the gift

CBS News

And that’s when it hit them, that the real gift wasn’t anything in the box. That the real gift, the priceless gift, had been staring at them all along.

“Everything we needed, we had between us. We just had to figure it out on our own,” Kathy said.

By not turning to the box, Brandon and Kathy say they were forced to learn tolerance, compromise and patience, something we could all use more of this week.

Because there is nothing magical about wedding gifts or ballot boxes; The keys to harmony are in us. All we have to do is dig deep and find them.

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  • Steve Hartman

    Steve Hartman has been a CBS News correspondent since 1998, having served as a part-time correspondent for the previous two years.