Art of Aging: Keeping love and romance alive at any age

WYNNEWOOD, Pa. (WPVI) -- We change through life, but experts say you can keep Cupid's arrows flying at any age.

When Valentine's Day comes, we think of a romantic dinner, a bouquet of flowers or a box of chocolates.

We've all marveled at couples together 50, 60 years, or more.

What are their secrets to lasting love?

For one man, it is, "Being honest and being fair."

His wife says, "Whatever it is to be done, we try to do it together."

Dr. Beverly Vaughn of Lankenau Hospital Main Line Health says that togetherness, or closeness, is a big key to enduring relationships.

"It's emotional intimacy, physical intimacy - it involves communication," says Dr. Vaughn.

And she says good relationships take some work.

First, make time for each other.

"Taking a walk, just sitting down after work and having a 20-minute conversation, it can be planning a date night," she says.

And as much as you want to stay 20-something lovebirds, a good relationship evolves over time, as our life experiences change our personal sense of self - including our sexuality.

Says, Dr. Vaughn, "Financial stress, job stress, fatigue, illness - it's a very long list."

Be open with your partner about those changes, or Dr. Vaughn says the silence could undermine the relationship.

Some couples say a little laughter every day helps too!

Dr. Vaughn says that while being a couple is important, so are connections to the broader community, through friendships and relationships with other members of the family.

"You have work relationships, you have friends, maybe you volunteer," she notes.

"If there are times that are stressful, either through illness, or unfortunately through death, you still have something that will buoy you up to get you through," she says.

She says people are extremely shy about talking about the physical changes time takes, particularly those who have major surgery, such as knee or hip replacement.

Some doctors address the issues, but not all do.

But Dr. Vaughn say she asks, listens, and tries to offer a workaround.

"I said to my patient - remember when you were in high school, and you weren't allowed to have sex? What did you do - there's a whole lot of stuff you can do!" she says with a laugh.

Some couples say a little laughter every day helps too!

For more information and other tips on making relationships work, go to the 6abc Art of Aging section.
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