My husband and I have been having some version of the following conversation on average once a day for the last twenty years.
Husband: “Do you love me?”
Husband: “But why?”
Me: “No reason.”
One day the conversation happened in front of a friend. Shocked, she chastised me for what she thought was a callous, uncaring remark.
I chuckled, and explained that it was not meant to be. This particular exchange goes back many years to when we were planning our wedding. At the time, same-sex marriages were still rather uncommon and there wasn’t a well-developed liturgy for a couple aspiring to have a traditional Jewish wedding. A close friend, a member of the clergy himself, encouraged me to write our own service.
Although a same sex union would be rather new, I wanted the service to be anchored in tradition and be rooted in historic texts. While searching for texts that seemed to fit our relationship and personalities I came across the following text from Pirkei Avot (Ethics of Our Fathers):
“Any love that is dependent on something–when the thing ceases, the love also ceases.
But a love that is not dependent on anything never ceases.
What is an example of a love that is… not dependent on anything? The love of David and Jonathan.” (Pirkei Avot 5:16)
I loved the sentiment, the reference to a same-sex relationship from Jewish history (whether or not it was a romantic one) and from this verse our little inside joke was born. When my husband asks why I love him and I respond, “No reason” it is my shorthand way to say that my love does not depend on any one thing or reason and therefore is not subject to change, diminish or go away.
And to be honest, I still enjoy the shocked look on people’s faces when they hear me say it for the first time. Why? No reason…