Chronic stress can accelerate biological aging, offering one mechanism through which stress may increase age-related disease risk. Chronic activation of the sympathoadrenal system increases cellular energy production, resulting in cell stress that can initiate cellular senescence, a permanent state of cell growth arrest. Our previous research linked psychosocial stress with increased expression of senescence marker p16INK4a; however, less is known about the role of protective psychosocial factors in biological aging. We examined relationship closeness (perceived interconnectedness with one’s spouse) as a protective buffer of the effects of stress on expression of the p16INK4a-encoding gene (CDKN2A) and transcription control pathways activated under cell stress. Seventy parents (Mage=43.2) completed interview-based and questionnaire measures of psychosocial stress and relationship closeness. Blood samples assessed CDKN2A expression and inferred activity of a priori-selected transcription factors Nrf2 and heat shock factors (HSFs) via genome-wide transcriptome profiling. Random intercept models adjusting for age, sex, and ethnicity/race revealed that perceived stress was associated with elevated CDKN2A expression for parents with low but not high closeness. Secondary bioinformatics analyses linked the interaction of perceived stress and relationship closeness to Nrf2 and HSF-1 activity. Findings identify relationship closeness as a protective factor that may buffer the impact of stress on cellular stress and senescence pathways.