Unbeknownst to Tammy Cloutier, UMKC’s new associate director of admissions, her staff had booked events in her name even before she arrived on the job. That August of 2007, Tammy, 30, felt overwhelmed by all her responsibilities.
When Jay Byland from Swinney Recreation Center on campus called to confirm an event with her, she said, “I don’t know what you’re talking about.” Jay, 33, figured her short answer indicated she was stressed by her new job.
Over the next two years, Jay and Tammy saw each other at meetings but talked little. Still, Jay noticed how quick she was to laugh, and he became interested in getting to know her better.
One day Tammy was lunching with a friend when Jay happened by. After the three talked, Tammy said to her friend: “He seems cool. Do you know anything about him?” Within 24 hours, Jay had called the friend and asked about Tammy.
Then he phoned Tammy and asked her for a date. When they went out to dinner, neither wanted the evening to end.
Tammy: “Jay was kind, courteous and a good listener. It felt like an easy friendship.”
Jay: “I felt comfortable with Tammy. I don’t usually talk a lot, but six hours later we were still conversing.”
The unfolding: They started spending time together and building a friendship. Within six months they had met each other’s families and traveled together. Their feelings of love and connection grew.
In December 2010, Jay planned an elaborate proposal during which Tammy would discover her ring in an ornament box while decorating a Christmas tree with Jay’s family.
But things didn’t go as expected. Tammy opened the box by accident. When she saw the ring, she said: “What is this? Is it for me?”
They were married in January 2012 in Kansas City.
Favorite shared activities and hobbies: They love traveling, watching sports and attending college basketball games.
Careers: They live in Kansas City. Both still work at UMKC: Tammy is director of admissions; Jay is assistant director of Swinney Recreation Center.
What keeps their relationship strong: They share similar values, and they’re compatible when it comes to spending money and time.
The qualities they most appreciate in each other:
Tammy: “Jay brings me balance and levelheadedness. He’s a kind, helpful and very giving person.”
Jay: “Tammy’s added a wonderful unpredictability to my life. She challenges me to communicate and brings out the best in me.”
Deborah Shouse is a freelance writer. Suggest a Love Story couple by writing to firstname.lastname@example.org.