Great Blue Heron

Photo by Jim L. Harvey, 2020,, used with permission

Wisdom for Two

Pair-bonding advice for next-level relationships

by Ken Rummer

Wind out of the northwest, crisp and chill. I’m wishing I’d worn one more layer for this morning’s walk, maybe a shell over the fleece. Brr. Autumn is here.

Beside the trail, milkweed pods spill their tufted seeds. And across the second gravel road, the soybean field wears only the chaff the combine left behind.

Overhead, a pair of blue herons slow-flap like dragons, long legs trailing and necks curved back like Dutch letter pastries. Lone herons I’ve spotted before, but two together may be a first for me.

Thinking back to spring when these birds paired up to build a nest, and warm some eggs, and feed their hatchlings, I wonder if the other herons offered them any advice.

In my pastoring days, I tried to do that, offer some advice — not to herons, but to humans. When I met with couples planning to be married, I tried to share some words with them: courage words for the venture ahead, spare-tire words for emergency use, and wisdom words for life-together. Feel free to translate as needed.

Courage words:

As I read the Bible, marriage was God’s idea, and it was a good one. So when you want your marriage to be good for both of you, I believe God wants that, too. God is on your side in this adventure.

As much as you love the person sitting beside you, God loves that person even more. And that love is there to draw on when your own love runs low. 

Spare-tire words: 

It’s better to call the mechanic when the car is making a strange noise, than to wait until the engine seizes up and you’re stranded in the middle of the road.

So if your marriage is making a strange noise, reach out. Call me. Call another minister. Or run a search for “Marriage and Family Counselors.” You’ll find folk there who work on marriages every day.

Wisdom words:

Make a list of all the jobs, paid and unpaid, that must be done for daily life together. Estimate the hours, assign the duties, and tally the time for each partner. Then ask each other: Does it feel fair?

God is everywhere, of course. But, in my understanding, God tends to honor closed doors. So, inviting God to your wedding is a great idea. And inviting God to be a part of your marriage is an even better idea.

There was more, including a bit about pet tigers and a parable about a reserve gas tank on a borrowed pickup, along with a strong encouragement for those planning on an outdoor wedding to have a Plan B in case of rain or tornado.

But let me open the floor for reader comments.

What relationship wisdom do you have for your pair-bonding friends who are contemplating next-level commitments?

What bit of advice can you share, for the herons and the humans?

Ken Rummer writer

Ken Rummer, a retired PCUSA pastor, writes about life and faith from the middle of Iowa by the High Trestle Trail. Previous posts are available at