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Just 5 Minutes of Her Time

This could easily have been one of those open letters.  You know, those “letters” people are fond of posting on social media and on blogs or releasing to news websites.   They’re addressed to one person but meant for all to see.  This would have been an open letter to Marilee, my wife.  In it, I would have been asking for her forgiveness and patience.

But I can barely get Marilee to listen to my bulls— these days, so she’s hardly in the mood to read it in an open letter.  Frankly, that’s exactly what I’ve been offering lately: bulls—.

It seems impossible, but last Thursday, I spent 5 minutes with Marilee.  Yes, in the course of a 24-hour day … 5 minutes.  Mind you, I wasn’t just getting back from an out-of-town trip that day.  Our schedules that day didn’t include any out-of-the-ordinary events or appointments that demanded extra time.  Nope. It was a normal day.  It was a routine day.  Yet somehow, I only spent 5 minutes with the woman with whom I share a home, a bed, and bathroom.  And on top of that, they weren’t even quality minutes.  Thursday was an extreme case, but it certainly isn’t the only day that something like this has happened.  It’s just the only day that I finally paid attention.

Sure, the schedule is tight, difficult, and frustrating.  Yes, our 2-year-old daughter demands a lot of attention.  Yes, we have demanding careers.  But none of that is why I couldn’t even spend a good 5 minutes with Marilee.  Rather, my focus was elsewhere.  I made everything else a priority.  It’s a classic case of taking someone and something for granted.  Many of us are susceptible to this as we get caught up in the daily grind of life.  We make the assumption that someone or something will always be there, despite our neglect.

I justify it by telling myself that I’m focusing on professional endeavors and making grand sacrifices on behalf of and for the betterment of my family.  But the truth is that what’s being sacrificed IS the family.

At times like this, I reach out to my pastor, my closest friends, and my mom.  But I also like to go back and read one of my favorite columns of all time by former NY Times columnist Bob Herbert:  “Tweet Less, Kiss More.”  “One of the essential problems of our society,” he writes, “is that we have a tendency, amid all the craziness that surrounds us, to lose sight of what is truly human in ourselves, and that includes our own individual needs — those very special, mostly nonmaterial things that would fulfill us, give meaning to our lives, enlarge us, and enable us to more easily embrace those around us.  We need to reduce the speed limit of our lives.”

So, this is not an open letter to Marilee.  It’s a heartfelt, friendly reminder to anyone who needs to stop, take a breather, and reassess.  Perspective and balance are worthy pursuits, even in an environment where being the last one to leave the office, losing sleep, and multitasking are often viewed as badges of honor … and spending only minutes a day with a loved one comes with the territory.  In my case, I should probably call it what it really is:  bulls—.

Comments

Venitra Clark
Reply

I spent years as a single mom of one beautiful daughter, doing what you have done with your job. My daughter raised herself, luckily God was with us. My daughter is a graduate of Rutgers University, and a successful social worker for Child Protective Services. She is a Christian, who does not smoke, drink or do drugs. I am so proud of her, but God raised her. Thank you, Lord.

Lee's Sweetie
Reply

I couldn’t tell when this was published but I just saw it today and was really moved by it. It contains so much heartfelt honesty and truth — and no bulls—. I admire your introspective nature, Mr. Holmes, and the fact that you read the work of outstanding writers (e.g., Bob Herbert) who, like yourself, analyze human behavior and help us to identify our own strengths and weaknesses. Not only are you entertaining as heck, you are also deep. This southern caucasian grandmother thinks you’re a great addition to ABC News. I really enjoy your reporting on Good Morning America. Sorry, but I’m not conscious in the wee hours when your shows are on the air.

@iamjustaj
Reply

Interesting observation, {Good Luck}.

M. Cunningham
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Thank you for sharing your perspective it reframes and checks my some times short temperament related to the BS. It reminds me to stay patient, humble, and loving. Recommit daily to fighting the good fight!

Art Schwartz
Reply

Where are you TJ? I miss you on ABC World News. Did you leave the show?

Gloria Asbury-Covington
Reply

Hi T.J.

I glad your career is going well, but like millions of other fans, l miss ya on the overnight show. Then I’m in a coma when GMA comes on, no offense. I LOVED what you had to say to your wife. Simply beautiful. I know you and she will get it right in time because you have decided to make time for each other. Period. No bull. No chaser required. Take care.

Benjamin Harrold
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Just thinking about you and your accomplishments, I decided to Google you today and came across your website and this page. The best advice I can given you Mr. Holmes is to remember where you come from, your roots and stay grounded in faith. Life can be demanding for all of us in our own unique ways. Thus, remaining humble is the key, including, continuing to treat people good, right, and fair. Also, having an excellent means of communication is essential between you and your spouse for the relationship to survive. Also, both of your all must know one another and understand one another, knowing and remembering what sacrifices each of you are making to ensure the survival of the family. Both of you all need to remember that. Be creative with how the both of you all communicate with one another, possibly through letters, text messaging, cards etc. Mutual understanding is the key in this situation. Reinterate how serious you are about the relationship and family. She should understand as your wife and companion. Good luck, and continue your success with pride and thankfulness! BWHJr.

Rosa Morgan
Reply

Miss you. Hope all is well.

mrs d maldonado
Reply

This was soo touching…loved tweet less-kiss more..
Glad you are letting your wife know she is appreciated.
Miss you in the early A.M. hours but hope this was good move for your family so you can spend more time with them

lavern sample
Reply

Beautifully spoken. We were just wondering what happened to you on WNT? Good things seem to be taking place in your life. Means that much, then you have to give it all you got. The best of luck in all that you do!

Myrna
Reply

I know you can fix this you are a smart, funny and hardworking. Focusing on your family needs to be your 1st priority. Family life can give you more blessings compared divorcees. Follow you heart. God bless.

Kendra
Reply

your heart and head are in the right place, TJ. so refreshing to see…and hear your (and our) truth. keep the spirit! right there with you. xo

Team Lou!
Reply

The simple fact that you can step back and recognize the lack of quality time w/ your wife puts you way ahead of most men!
My mother has always told me “it’s just money, you will make more, but time is not something you can buy back.”
When your man ask you “Baby how was your day,” and look in her eyes and don’t just Hear her, LISTEN. Most of us women just want to be listened to and not make everything about you and your career.
I know you personally and now how kind your spirit is and I’m telling you as a woman and a friend “Listen” to her emotional needs, don’t just hear the noise coming out of her mouth.
One more thing, start your sentences with… I feel.”
Examples; ” I feel stretched to thin and you are and always will be my heart,” ” I feel guilty inside for allowing my career to cause a wedge etween us,” ” it hurts me to see you cry and I want to give you the world, but this was my passion when you met me and I enjoy being able to provide for our family and meet journalism goals.”
Just an idea for my boy Lou! Your smart, you got this!

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