I have been very fortunate throughout my life to be exposed to a great diversity of people. A few weeks ago I talked about our proverbial shopping cart of life—the information that we gather from a variety of places during our day-to-day activities. I tend to take too much off the “shelves” each time and, therefore, find that my mind constantly races to incorporate my latest goodies into my life. Some items get shuffled around for a little while until I find the perfect moment to use them, some stay buried indefinitely, but some are like the pack of gum that goes directly into my purse at the check-out. At times though, I feel like the Cliff Claven of my neighbourhood because I seem to retain some of the most inane pieces of knowledge. When I’m loading up my proverbial shopping cart, I do my best to pick items without an expiry date; one of those items actually took over ten years for me to use. That item was “Vertical Alignment.”
I can honestly say that the majority of the most valuable people who have entered my life have come through business dealings. It’s at this point that my family and friends snort at my comment, feel completely unappreciated, and take me off of their respective Christmas card lists. But give me a moment to redeem myself.
The value I have taken away from my business relationships has been both positive and negative. I have seen the dirty dogs and studied how they piss on whomever gets in their way on their path to success. It’s because of those dirty dogs that I vowed never to lift my leg on anyone—my favorite aunt could have never taught me that. So the dirty dogs are Value Example #1. Value Example #2 is those who are mentors to many and live their lives with the utmost integrity. I don’t believe that there is “business integrity,” I believe you either have integrity or you don’t. There’s no grey area for me on this one. Finally, Value Example #3 is those who live a spiritual life and align their day-to-day through the guidance that they receive through their religion or spirituality.
Value Example #3 is how I learned about “Vertical Alignment.” They are said to be as follows:
- Job/Income Source
- Extended Family/Friends
- Mint-Chocolate Girl Guide Cookies (I swear I read this one in the Bible—one of the Psalms thingies, I think.)
When I first heard about this priority list, I guffawed and thought, “How on earth could I ever put my husband ahead of my daughter?” I was in my second marriage at the time and he was pretty much a turd who was undeserving of that kind of respect. I know, really godly attitude, right? Well, it’s where my head was at in those days. Furthermore, I was raised in a religiously reticent home, so I really had no connection with any God or form of spirituality; so putting Him at the top was something that felt just as weird as perching the turd near the upmost position of that totem pole.
I was in love with and in awe of my daughter from the moment I found out that she was hitchhiking in my womb. I couldn’t wrap my head around the miracle of creation. I am also still perplexed by, and in awe of, how fax machines, telephones, and filo pastry machines work—I guess I’m just simple that way. But I digress.
How could any woman possibly put their husband ahead of someone they baked in their belly? Someone who has her blood flowing through her? Someone whose heart beats inside of her? In those days, if you asked me the age old question, “If the ship was sinking and you could only save one person…,” my answer would have been that my spouse better hope we weren’t in shark infested waters.
I couldn’t relate, and just skipped to number three on the list every time. And then, ten years later, I met my forever-husband.
I was in awe of him. I would lie in bed and just stare at him. I wouldn’t let him turn the light off because I wanted to study every inch of his beautiful face. I literally cried most nights because I was overwhelmed by the love I felt for him, and didn’t want to go to sleep and stop being with him in a wakeful state. No matter how close we were physically, it was never close enough for me. I just wanted to melt into him.
It wasn’t until a few months into our relationship that the term vertical alignment popped back into my head. My aha moment hit me like a freight train. I finally got it. I finally felt it. Even though we never created a child together, he was the most important thing to me on this earth. He came above everyone and everything else and it felt so right and natural. I realized that I could never wrap my head around vertical alignment before because I was never with the man that I was supposed to be with.
I know that many people skip item number one on the list, but I’m not here to preach that; I’m here to preach the importance of aligning numbers two and three. Without spouse there would be no child—this definitely applies to “uni-marrieds”—but does it apply to those of us who have blended our families? It most definitely does. The unity and respect that husband and wife demonstrate for one another is what moulds how their children treat their future spouses. This is one of the most crucial lessons that we should teach our kids.
In my blog about verbal spousal bashing, I only touched on the trend of dissing your mate in public; I didn’t delve deeply into the ramifications it has when our children bear witness to the activity. If spouses don’t honor and respect one another, not only will their children have a skewed view of how a committed relationship should be, but it will also damage how they handle their day-to-day relationships in general.
Take a moment this week to critically examine your own vertical alignment. Although I doubt that #7 will find its way to the top of anyone’s list, I know that many put #4 above everything and lace it heavily with #5 and #6. I think if we all focus on our one, two, threes, we will have a far stronger foundation to get us through life. You may then reward yourself with #7.
“Seven, seven, seven, seven…” (Sorry, couldn’t resist… Fans of Friends will get it.)