Daily: Tamara + Patrick Buck, 26 years

Some poets describe love as a garden, a relationship as something two people create, build and tend together. It’s an entity that requires work, attention, care; tender planting, pruning and weeding. Some days, it’s hot and dry and humid, and the work is arduous. Other days, the rain brings relief and growth. Still other days, it’s 75 degrees and sunny outside, and it’s easy to enjoy being there. You want to be. 

While the wedding day is about the one “Yes, I do” moment when two lives are joined together, the long haul of marriage is about continually choosing that yes each day. Here, three local couples share their wisdom on how they say yes to each other, daily keeping their commitment to the other and to what they’re building together strong and growing.

Photo by Aaron Eisenhauer

When Tamara and Patrick Buck met for the first time, it was actually the third time they’d encountered each other. The first time they’d spoken had been over the telephone, when Tamara answered, “Townhouse Inn, this is Tamara,” at her job as a front desk worker when Patrick called the hotel. The second time was at a college party when Tamara told Patrick to stop bothering one of her friends who was upset. And the third time — which was the time they noticed each other — was at a nightclub in Cape Girardeau, when Tamara, who had sworn off men earlier that day, asked Patrick to dance.

He said no; he didn’t like the song, but she could come and get him on the next song. She said no; he could come and get her, so she knew he wanted to dance with her. He says he “kind of liked that.”

After they danced to R. Kelly’s “Bump N’ Grind” (“Unfortunately. That is our song,” Tamara says), he introduced himself, and she gave him her name, too. He recognized her voice. “Townhouse Inn, this is Tamara?” he asked.  

“When he knew who I was just from my voice … wow,” Tamara says. “And that’s when we started figuring out — ‘Wow, we’ve had more than one encounter. What is this?’”

She was 23, and he was 24. They’ve been together ever since.

Tamara says although they have been through difficult times together, have different educational backgrounds and contrasting ways of approaching the world (Tamara says she’s more practical while Patrick is a dreamer), they share foundational commonalities that pull them through. One of those commonalities is music. Another is a love for books.

“I think we finally really realized that we were into each other when I was sitting around reading one day and he came in and I just didn’t feel like talking to him because I was reading my book, and he looked at me and then he picked up his book, and he started reading,” Tamara says. “We both have this real love of books, and there are so many childhood books that we connected over that we both love, and we started to see these similarities.”

Throughout their life together, they have realized how their differences are strengths: Tamara has introduced Patrick and their two sons to traveling and eating interesting food. And Patrick helps Tamara step out and do things that are more adventurous than activities she would do on her own, like ziplining and riding his motorcycle. 

With faith, too, they teach each other.

“I’m the church girl. I’m going to church,” Tamara says. “I don’t get him to go to church very often, but he supports the church. So he’s kind of broadened my mind to this idea that faith doesn’t always have to be manifested in regular attendance. I want him to attend. But I also want him to support me attending. And I have to be OK with the fact that he’s not going to church every Sunday. As long as he’s OK that I am.”

“Honestly, I admire her faith. I really do,” Patrick says. “Because it’s gotten me in trouble, but if I want something, I want it. Like when we first started the nightclub that we had years ago, my mind was made up, but I knew I couldn’t do it without her, and I wanted it, and she wanted it right. And I remember when she said, ‘I’m praying on it.’ And I had to leave it to her because it was a situation where I believed that her belief in her faith was not going to lead me in the wrong direction. … I’m not going to open a business, I’m not going to do anything serious without letting her know because I need her faith. … She has always had my best interests. Always. ” 

It’s this profound respect for the other and their faith in the knowledge they will both put the other first that helps them continue on through easy and difficult times. 

“We’re partners,” Tamara says. “And I think we’ve always looked at each other as we’re partners in this thing.”

A conversation with Tamara and Patrick

Tamara The very different backgrounds that we have and the very different experiences that we have don’t offset what brings us together. And there are some very foundational principles that bring us together.

Patrick I’m not going to open a business, I’m not going to do anything serious without letting her know, because I need her faith. … She’s going to research. She’s going to say whether or not it’s a good idea. And I don’t necessarily agree with her when it’s not a good idea, but I also know that she has my best interests. She does. And sometimes, me having a different opinion has caused a problem or two, but I’ve never felt like she doesn’t have my best interests. I’ve felt like she didn’t want what I wanted, but she has always had my best interests. Always.

Tamara And I think the flip side of that is through everything we’ve been through, I have never doubted that I was No. 1. You can do a lot of things; what you cannot do is disrespect me. He has never been somebody that’s going to be okay with somebody being in my face, with somebody mistreating me, with somebody saying something out of line to me. 

Patrick She’s also always had my back for that, too. If we’re somewhere and I’m not comfortable, she’s always managed to slip a word or two in to make me feel like, okay, this is going to be a good time. 

Tamara You hear this Biblical reference of people being evenly yoked. And I think in some aspects that’s important that you’re evenly yoked — you’ve got somebody intellectually on your level, you’ve got somebody with the same goals, the same faith, the same values as you; I think that’s important. But I also think it’s important to remember that sometimes one of you is going to have to carry more of the load. And so that yoke may feel uneven because you’re having to stretch. I knew because of some of his experiences when we met, he may have been a few months older than me, but I was much more mature. And I recognized that was going to mean if I wanted to be with him, I was going to have to wait for him on some things because he wasn’t there yet and make a conscious decision: Is this something I want to do? And I was willing to do that. And there have been times when I think he had to pick up the slack for me and carry the load until I could catch up to him and do it on my own. And I think couples need to know that’s also real and something that you’re going to have to face. You need to make a decision upfront: Are you willing to do that?