Describe the relationship between Tom and Daisy Buchanan from the novel The Great Gatsby.

Tom and Daisy Buchanan have built a life and history together, so they are unwilling to leave each other. Tom has multiple affairs that he does not hide well from Daisy, but he enjoys having a beautiful, sociable wife. Daisy harbors love for Gatsby and knows Tom cheats on her, but she enjoys living a wealthy existence. Ultimately, they do not have a very loving marriage; yet they are strongly bound together by forces other than love.

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From the start, Nick senses an enigmatic quality to the relationship between Daisy and Tom . The first night he comes to their house for dinner, he learns that Tom is having an affair. Daisy professes to a jaded unhappiness over this and insists she has gone everywhere, done everything,...

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From the start, Nick senses an enigmatic quality to the relationship between Daisy and Tom. The first night he comes to their house for dinner, he learns that Tom is having an affair. Daisy professes to a jaded unhappiness over this and insists she has gone everywhere, done everything, seen everything, and is, she states scornfully, "sophisticated."

Nick notes in response that:

I felt the basic insincerity of what she had said. It made me uneasy, as though the whole evening had been a trick of some sort to exact a contributory emotion from me. I waited, and sure enough, in a moment she looked at me with an absolute smirk on her lovely face as if she had asserted her membership in a rather distinguished secret society to which she and Tom belonged.

He also wonders as he leaves why Daisy stays with Tom:

It seemed to me that the thing for Daisy to do was to rush out of the house, child in arms—but apparently there were no such intentions in her head.

All of this foreshadows what will happen in the confrontation between Tom and Gatsby over Daisy later in the novel: Daisy will choose Tom despite his shortcomings.

As Nick intuits from the start, Daisy may be a drama queen who enacts the part of the injured, victimized wife of an adulterous man, but she and Tom have a bond that transcends that role—they share in the "rather distinguished secret society" that unites them. Nick realizes, too, that although she has every reason to leave Tom, Daisy has no intention of doing so. Something deep connects them, a bond that has developed since Gatsby faded from the scene.

As readers, we are never sure exactly what it is that holds them together, but the implication is that it involves Tom's high class status and vast wealth that allows them to live as if they are superior to the rest of the world. Daisy may toy with Gatsby, as Tom does with Muriel, and Daisy may even have a deep affection for Gatsby based on once having fallen in love with him, but none of that matters against the deep bond that she and Tom share.

Tom and Daisy need and complement each other. Daisy needs Toms relentless arrogance, strength, and money to feel safe, while Tom relies on Daisy's beauty, dependence, and charm. They will always stand by each other.

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Daisy and Tom, as problematic as their marriage is, share a fundamental similarity: they have every comfort they could ever ask for in life, but having everything is not enough. 

Tom has a massive amount of money, attended an Ivy League school, excelled in sports, and married a woman whose "voice is full of money." But this charmed life is not enough for him; his affair with Myrtle serves as an escape for him, giving him the opportunity to feel the thrill of doting on a lower-class woman who finds his wealth attractive. Daisy, meanwhile, is an example of Fitzgerald's "Golden Girl" trope—she glitters, sparkles, and entrances everyone with her silky voice. She comes from wealth and married Tom, but this life proves to be unsatisfying for her. When she reunites with Gatsby, she enjoys feeling wanted again, the way Tom enjoys Myrtle's attention.

At the end of the novel, Nick remarks,

"They were careless people, Tom and Daisy—they smashed up things and creatures and then retreated back into their money or their vast carelessness, or whatever it was that kept them together and let other people clean up the mess they had made...."

While Tom and Daisy's relationship is obviously troubled, Nick finds them a well-suited pair, as both of them value money and projecting a shiny, unattainable image of themselves to the world rather than seeking true, vulnerable intimacy. Paradoxically, they seem the most intimate when they are cleaning up each other's messes and restoring their glittering facade to the public. 

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When Gatsby, Nick, Tom, Daisy, and Jordan all go to New York City, the tension between Gatsby and Tom boils over, and Gatsby tries to pressure Daisy into saying that she never loved Tom.  However, she cannot say it, especially not when faced with Tom's seemingly genuine emotion.  She tells Gatsby that he asks too much of her, and it is obvious that her intention to leave Tom for Gatsby, however short-lived, is truly affecting Tom.  Later, when Nick sees them in their kitchen eating cold chicken after the car accident that killed Myrtle, there is a familiarity and ease between the two that does remind one of the way loving relationships can age over time.  

Obviously, there are some really significant problems in their relationship, and Tom and Daisy are both pretty terrible people. However, it does seem like they care for each other on some level.  

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Tom and Daisy Buchanan have a marriage of convenience.  Tom likes the idea of a beautiful and socially savvy wife; while Daisy enjoys having a wealthy and well-connected husband.  Their relationship is toxic and unhealthy, yet they seem to have no intention of working to make it better.

Tom is publicly unfaithful and has been so since their honeymoon.  He had a fling with a maid in a Santa Barbara hotel where he and Daisy were guests that ended up in the newspaper after the two had a car accident in which the maid broke her arm (a little foreshadowing, perhaps?).  Later, we find out that Tom even carouses publicly, not caring who knows about his promiscuity:

The fact that he had one [mistress] was insisted upon wherever he was known. His acquaintances resented the fact that he turned up in popular restaurants with her and, leaving her at a table, sauntered about, chatting with whomever he knew.

Apparently, Tom is also abusive to Daisy:

We all looked – the knuckle was black and blue. 

"You did it, Tom," she said accusingly. "I know you didn't mean to, but you did do it."

But Daisy can not be counted completely innocent.  On the night before her wedding to Tom, she knew that she was in love with Gatsby, but she also knew that at the time, he had little money.  So in the bright light of the next morning, she got up, put on the string of pearls that Tom had bought her, and married him anyway.  Perhaps, then, Daisy is guilty at the least of emotional infidelity.

This couple is just a mess.  They trample on each other and on all those around them, and they find myriad excuses for their behavior.  Tom sums it up when he explains why his cheating is really meaningless:

"And what's more, I love Daisy too. Once in a while I go off on a spree and make a fool of myself, but I always come back, and in my heart I love her all the time."

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