Surprised by Love: Jen & Tyler On Where They Started and How It’s Going

Episode 08

It’s time to bring a close to our Dating, Sex, & Relationships series. And what better way to wrap it all than hearing a candid conversation from Jen and her person–Tyler Merritt. If you’ve listened to this series, you might have noticed that Jen has mentioned Tyler–a long time activist and author—a time or two, and that part of the reason for this series was to explore some new territory that Jen has only been exposed to over the last year or so as she tentatively put her toe in the dating waters after the end of her 26 year marriage in 2020.  As we’ve stepped through all the new ways we can meet people, or explored the choice to be single, or looked at how to start over after divorce or loss, we’ve heard the threads of Jen and Tyler’s story in all of this mix. And now, they’re here to give us some insight as to “how it’s going,” with all the joys and challenges every new relationship faces, plus some never before heard conversations about how they came together from completely different places in life including; long time married with kids vs. long time single with no kids, navigating the nuances of being a bi-racial couple and coming from completely different cultural circumstances, balancing their careers while nurturing a budding relationship and the bittersweet reality of dating long-distance. This episode is packed with some “in the moment” musings from both Jen and Tyler and also includes some hilarious takes on how a relationship that started as a new friendship turned into long daily text sessions moving to hours long phone conversations, their “define the relationship” talk, and culminating with a fun bonus segment–the For the Love team’s version of “The Newlywed Game,”–where we see how well Jen and Tyler really know each other (you’ll want to see this on video as well over on Jen’s YouTube). 

Episode Transcript

Hey, everybody. Jim Hatmaker here, your host of the For the Love podcast. Welcome, you guys. Welcome. Welcome to the show. Oh, dear. Oh, gosh. Today is a big one. We’re wrapping up our series for the Love of Dating, Sex and Relationships, which I have loved. Gosh, I learned a lot. I just found this entire series so fascinating. We stretched it to eight or nine episodes. There was just so much to talk about. I really wanted to honor you and this commonality we all have in navigating kind of all of this under a big umbrella–just the general stuff of relationships which we all have; dating, which some of us have marriage, which some of us have, sex, divorce, all of it. 

Like there’s a lot under this big heading. And so I truly hope that you found some friends in some of the experts and voices we brought on for the series and that you felt some kinship with others who were maybe experiencing the same spectrum of feelings, whatever that may be for you, wherever you’re at in your life. I know I have identified with virtually every emotion that we discussed in this series; the good, the hard, the bad, the messy, the loss, the rebuilding, all of it. So that said, I am excited about our last episode for the series because it follows a person who has become very special to me. 

I understand that I am in that sort of early, happy, giddy, romantic stage. I get it. I hope you can tolerate it. It’s admittedly gross sometimes, but it has been a real hot minute for me since I’ve had any of that. So whatever, man. Bear with me. Bear with me if you can. I thought it would be super fun to wrap up this series with a chat with me and the man I’m currently dating. He and I go around and around and like, What do I say? What are you? Because like, we’re in our upper forties. “Are you my boyfriend?” He says, “Yes.” He’s like, “that’s what we say.” “We say Boyfriend?”  I’m like, okay. Anyway, however you want to call it, it’s Tyler Merritt and I’m thrilled to introduce you to him right here in our little pod space. He and I have been in some other people’s spaces together, but this is the first time that Tyler has been in our podcast world. 

And so yay, right? We get pretty real here. We talk about some stuff that surprised even us. So hold on tight. It’s a good one. And I hope you’ll find this episode as much of a treat as we did recording it for you. So let’s lay this groundwork first. When I first announced our relationship on Instagram earlier this year, like at the very beginning of 2022, this is what I wrote. I said “I didn’t need Tyler to heal my broken heart. Me and Jesus did that on our own. He isn’t a missing piece. I’m whole. And so was he. I’m learning what it looks like when two whole healthy people fall for each other without the pressure of fixing or completing the other. And it’s an absolute miracle.” That’s what I said. And you guys, I still feel that way today. I mean, honestly, more so. More so even now. He obviously has met my kids and my friends and my parents and all my siblings. And we’re going to talk about that. 

He’s been on the porch with us till the wee hours of the morning. I’ve been in his world with his friends and his places and on the phone with his mom. And it’s been amazing. And we’ve also had some really hard conversations. We’ll talk about that, too. I mean, you don’t spend nine months with a person, especially at our age, especially long distance, without really having stuff to work through. That’s just life. That’s relationships. I was just talking to a friend this very morning who’s been married for 20 some odd years and she’s like, “we’re still working on it.” I’m like, “yep, that’s just togetherness. That’s just relationship.” As you can imagine, a girl married for 26 years dating a never-been-married guy, among some real obvious other host of differences, has provided us a lot of moments to kind of talk deeply and really listen to each other’s experiences and understand a totally different perspective from the one that we have come from. 

And so, we’ve traveled a lot and we’ve grown a lot. We’ve come closer to each other. And honestly,  I feel like I’m closer to who I meant to be. As I’m practicing so many new things in a new relationship as an adult. You know, the last time I dated, everybody knew I was 18. So it’s interesting and fascinating and kind of awesome to watch 48 year old Jen do it right. Like, this is who I am now and this is what I bring to the table. And it’s completely different and it’s so wonderful. And this journey and this relationship and Tyler has just meant everything to me and I’m so grateful now for what we get into it. Some of the questions we’re going to answer here came straight from you guys, and I love that you care. So here we are giving you the most honest answers we possibly can and thanking you for letting us have this really candid conversation with you. 

And absolutely do not sleep on this interview because we do our version of The Newlywed Game, although we are not wed. But it’s hilarious. And you’re going to get to see that. Also, speaking of seeing, you might want to see this entire interview. Tyler and I recorded this one in person at my house. And so if you want to hop over to YouTube, you can watch this conversation, which I promise you in this case is how you want to do this, how you take in this particular episode. So that’s on my YouTube channel and you’ll see Tyler and I yukking it up in my office and laughing. Later on in this conversation, we hold up signs. I’m just saying it might be worth watching. Anyway, this conversation is delightful. He is delightful and I am tickled to bring you my conversation with my favorite guy, Tyler Merritt.



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XO – Team Jen

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