Monthly Archives: February 2017

Marks of a Gentleman

I’m glad President Trump chose not to attend the White House Correspondence Dinner. I usually watch it on TV. The jokes and comments are supposed to be caustic, cynical and extremely overstated—akin to trash talk. It has ceased to be funny.

Last year the camera focused on Donald Trump as the “comedian-host” and President Obama ‘roasted” (excoriated) Trump who was in the audience. I watched Mr. Trump—the first few zingers were funny and he smiled. Then the comments got personal and cruel. He stopped smiling and made some decisions. I’m glad Trump will not be there this year to receive the trash comments. I’m also glad he will not be near a mic. His comments, intended to be humorous, sometimes miss and come off as personal attacks. Sometimes they are! It is just best for the civilized world that our POTUS stay home.

I felt many of the comments directed from the podium toward and about President Obama last year were also way out of line. Crude, vicious, stupid and totally disrespectful of anyone, let alone our president. Such talk in some countries would get the speaker taken immediately to the gallows.

In his current leadership podcast ( Andy interviews Horst Schultz. Schultz is seen among the best of hoteliers. He was the trainer at the Ritz Carleton when it became the example of hospitality. Twenty-three years ago, Andy sat in on two orientation meetings as Schultz (in a 3-piece suit) trained bus boys, waiters, dishwashers, bellboys what it meant to work for the Ritz-Carleton. Andy says he watched the man do “magic” and it changed Andy’s life.

Horst Schultz worked with the minimum wage people with a goal he emphasized:

“We are not servants. We are ladies and gentlemen serving ladies and gentlemen.”

Orientation included defining what a gentleman and lady looked like. That standard and behavior worked for the Ritz as it became the standard for service.

Would a gentleman say the things we hear at the Correspondence Dinner? Where would our culture learn how a “gentleman” acts, talks, treats people without being a ultra-Victorian? William Wilberforce said,

“God Almighty has set before me two great objects, the suppression of the Slave Trade and the reformation of manners.”

He was influential and effective in both. Lord, teach our culture manners.

©2017 D. Dean Benton

Time & Marriage

Two of my favorite people celebrated their wedding anniversary yesterday. I’ve been thinking about marriage since seeing their picture.

A few days ago, I got a letter from a friend who told me his wife had died. I couldn’t read the rest of the letter. I put it back in the envelope and put it in the dark hole on my desk. He wrote:

“On New Year’s Eve she said, ‘This is the year when we’ll celebrate our 60th Wedding Anniversary.’ Then without a sound, she fell into my arms unconscious and was gone.’”

I was shaken–I couldn’t cry—could hardly think. I wandered about saying, “Oh, God!”

Carole’s sister thinks we either like old magazines or have a better recycle plan than she does. She handed me a fist full of old Time magazines. Is there a larger contradiction than an out of date Time magazine?

Time, June 13, 2016—“How to Stay Married,” by Bellinda Luscombe. It is one of the articles I’ve read about marriage and staying married successfully. Divorce has generally been declining with one exception: among people 50 and older. Divorce among that age group has doubled in the past two decades. Ms. Luscombe explains why and gives stats. The article is well worth the trouble searching for and reading.

Lisa Grunwald says, “What does a modern marriage promise that historical unions didn’t? The ultimate dream: a partner who sees what you really are and not only accepts, but improves it. ‘The promise you make is not just to be faithful and true and to stay married, but to try and bring out the best in each other.’”

Lifetime monogamy, as Luscombe reminds us, is not a natural state. “But natural and worthwhile are not the same things.”

One of the reasons the article is so helpful and very well written with practical suggestions is the writer quotes some of my favorite marriage counselors and researchers. John Gottman, Gary Chapman and Mark Twain:

“To get the full value of joy, you must have somebody to divide it with.” (Mark Twain.)

But that does not mean marriage is for everyone. We have a friend who gets nauseated at the suggestion she ride along with us to a wedding. She is not sickened by the thought of marriage generally—just the thought of being married. We have many acquaintances who are happily unmarried. So I write this for those who are married and want to make it work.

“Aim to find someone you know you’ll love even during the periods when you don’t like him or her so much. And then, cross your fingers. Just pick out a good one and get lucky.” (Grunwald).

Congratulations to those who celebrate another year. I pray God will walk with the grieving. May God’s peace and full outpouring of all that is needed and desired find its way to those who are living through the darkness of divorce.

The article—read it.

©2017 D. Dean Benton   (

My latest book, The Whales are Singing, has chapters and paragraphs about marriage.

Thanks for stopping by.

Churchill’s M.O.

“The second quality that saved  Winston…was an astounding ability to exert himself against his own nature, to force himself to go beyond what by all accounts he was destined to be.”

“Acutely aware of his deficiencies, he started to re-create himself in preparation for the life he wanted.”

“Having declared war on anything in him that resisted his vision, he knew his drive could overcome even his own personality and biology.” (Stephen Mansfield)

The power of self-knowledge and awareness and a commitment to do what it takes to change and move forward.

D. Dean Benton