An Honorable Relationship
Adrienne Rich, an influential poet of the twentieth century, writes:
An honorable human relationship – that is, one in which two people have the right to use the word “love” – is a process, delicate, violent, often terrifying to both persons involved, a process of refining the truths they can tell each other.
With Valentine just around the corner, this quote by Adrienne Rich brings the concept of Love out of the mere romantic notion into a truthful, even painful relationship.
I, for one, can vouch for this. From being in love with the romantic notion to accepting the complexity of Love, I’ve embraced the sometimes joyful, sometimes painful journey of Love. The love of my life is still with me, from our days in college, to immigrating together, to being parents together, to being apart, to pursuing other love interests, and our relationship has reached a plateau, where acceptance and understanding underlie the Love between us.
This work is ongoing and doing it is the “process of refining the truths [we] can tell each other”. At this time in my life, after a long relationship, for better and for worse, the love simply exists because of doing the work.
Adrienne Rich continues:
It is important to do this because it breaks down human self-delusion and isolation. It is important to do this because in doing so we do justice to our own complexity. It is important to do this because we can count on so few people to go that hard way with us.
When thinking back on my process and journey I have encountered amounts of frustrations, disappointments, and unfulfilled expectations, driving me to write a personal journal through it all. I have done the blame game leaving myself in the clear. But at the same time, I hung on, more or less, and it is because of my willingness to learn through impulsive actions, obsessive love, and painful encounters that I relate to the words of Adrienne Rich.
My partner of forty eight years and I grow through our honorable human relationship.
Quotes are from On Lies, Secrets, and Silence: Selected Prose 1966-1978 by Adrienne Rich