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For high school seniors or senior citizens, communication is key to a long-lasting relationship

Sejal Barden (l) and John Super.
Sejal Barden (l) and John Super.

With Valentine’s Day around the corner, WMFE’s Joe Byrnes, who covers aging, sat down to talk about romance with two University of Central Florida experts on counseling and relationships. 

John Super who teaches counseling and Sejal Barden, Executive Director of the Marriage and Family Research Institute,  say there are plenty of tips young people can learn from senior citizens about enduring relationships. And whether you're a senior in high school or a senior citizen, the key is finding ways to connect and to understand each other. 

"There's a lot of research out there that suggests that there are master couples, couples that have certain elements to them, that make their relationships successful," says Super.

At the core of long lasting relationships, he says is "being seen, being heard, being known" and good communication.

"We see that across the lifespan. So it doesn't really matter if you're a senior in high school or a senior citizen, [it's] finding ways to really connect with each other and to understand each other."

"What we see on the media or in movies of these, you know, storybook romances when we're a little bit younger, truly don't really exist," says Barden.

"But what really happens is that our older couples or more senior couples have made this commitment to saying we are committed to each other and we're willing to put in the work and the effort."

Barden says conflict can sometimes be a catalyst to find out what works and what doesn't in a relationship.

"When a couple has been married for 50 years, you know, I like to say likely they've been remarried maybe seven times just to the same person, because they really have had to continue to evolve and learn and adapt to tell what their partner's needs are," says Barden.

"And that's especially true as we go through the trajectory of aging and relationships together."