How do you make a marriage last?

October 13, 2021

Steve and Cindee Hays

When Steve and Cindee Hays celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary, they asked their pastor to give them a blessing toward the end of Mass because they wanted to be witnesses and show parishioners that it is possible to have a long lasting marriage.

A little boy in the back, not knowing what was happening, stood up and clapped in the quiet moment.

Steve and Cindee chuckled at the memory.

They plan to witness to the sacrament of marriage again by attending a special Mass with Bishop William Joensen that honors couples with milestone anniversaries.

“I want to give thanks for 50 years,” she said. “It’s still quite a journey and I just think it’s important we get together and celebrate these milestones for a lot of these younger couples, to see people who do it,” Cindee said.

 “You can get there,” Steve said.

Steve, who is from Red Oak, and Cindee, who is from northern Illinois, met at a fraternity party at Creighton University in the fall when she was a freshman and he was junior.

  They went on a date and the rest, as they say, is history.

They married Aug. 6, 1971 and two months later, they hit the road for Steve’s job. They went from southwest Iowa to Texas, to Omaha and Pennsylvania before settled back home in Red Oak with their two daughters.         

Steve and Cindee say they see things differently.

“We have a lot in common but we’re two different personalities,” she said. “I’m in ministry and he’s in accounting. We look at life through different lenses. We help people in our own calling, our vocation. In ministry, I’m looking at a person’s faith and trying to journey with them, and he’s looking at the financial side. We’re helping them and walking with them.”

There are three ingredients to a good marriage, they said: Knowing that God is with you in the marriage, respecting each other, and communicating.

They carved out time for respect and communication by agreeing to have lunch together every day.

“It was the only time when the girls were in school that we could talk about the big picture about what was going on,” Cindee said.

Steve adds a fourth ingredient: Compromise.

“In 50 years, you realize there were things that we were both different in, and in that process you have to learn to give and take and if you don’t do that, you won’t make it,” Steve said.

Raised a Methodist, Steve joined the Catholic Church through the RCIA program in 1983. He joined the Knights of Columbus, where the couple made friends.

Cindee said community helps a marriage.

“Especially when we had friends about the same age, they had problems but the problems were different. Your lives are different but you realize that no one person gets by, or has an easy life,” Cindee said. “That support from your parish is huge, especially walking with other couples with the same interests.”

They realized God was working in their lives when Steve suffered a heart attack 16 years ago.

Cindee accepted that his fate was out of her hands; he was in the hands of his doctor and God.

In the face of the challenges the couple faced, they boil down what’s important in life. For Steve and Cindee, that’s faith.

Join the Diocese of Des Moines in celebrating the gift of the sacrament of marriage. Bishop William Joensen will be celebrating three anniversary Masses this fall to pray with, bless and honor couples celebrating milestone anniversaries. Certificates of blessing and reserved seating are available for couples celebrating 1, 10, 25, and 50+ years of marriage. A light reception will follow the Masses.

Times and locations:

·    Saturday, Oct. 30, 4 p.m. at St. Ambrose Cathedral, Des Moines

·    Sunday, Nov. 7, 11:30 a.m. at St. Anne Catholic Church, Logan

·    Saturday, Nov. 13, 5 p.m. at St. Mary Catholic Church, Red Oak

To register call Cathy Gearhart at 515-237-5004 or email her at