We're sharing the best ways to build a strong foundation for a lasting relationship. Here's our guide on how to save a relationship - before it needs saving.

In W.B. Yeats' poem, "The Lover Tells Of The Rose In His Heart," the speaker tells us of a love like a golden rose tarnished by the wrongdoings of the world. The second stanza gives us a glimpse of the lover longing to restore the rose's beauty to match the dreams in his heart.  

But, often love is not tarnished by the world's wrongdoings. The breaks and the cracks come from within a relationship.  It's secret longings and unfulfilled wishes that turn to all out war in the end. 

This is not the ideal for any relationship. But sadly, it is the norm for some. 

It's easy to say, "it's never too late." But sometimes it is. Yet, let's leave that to the counsellors and the divorce lawyers. Because today, we're going to talk about how to save a relationship long before it needs saving.

It's absolutely possible. But it takes a little bit of work. You have to be willing to give and listen. 

If you're willing to do those two things, read on. We'll give you a glimpse of the lover's dream fulfilled.

How to save a relationship by being whole

Have you heard the phrase, "He/she completes me"? It's such a common phrase that even the Austin Power's series makes fun of it.

Your partner is not your "Mini-Me." Dump that idea before it enters your head. Sure, you became "one flesh," but this is metaphorical. You are a team. A dynamic duo. Not halves of the same whole, or tentpoles holding each other up. Or whatever other silly metaphor the glib poets have come up with. 

You should be a whole person (or as whole as you can be) before you enter the relationship. Relationships can be just as much a hole filling addiction as any other drug of choice. 

The only reason addiction happens is because something is missing. That other person will never be your missing puzzle piece. They might help you find it. But they'll never be it.

How to save a relationship by being real

"All the world's a stage, 

And all the men and women merely players."

Shakespeare had it right. We're actors always. We play different roles and speak different parts in different places. 

But at home, with your lover, you should always be you. Sure, at first, to win their heart, you're going to lavish them with beautiful gifts

You will play the role of love-sick puppy. Desperate warrior. Hungry maiden. But once you know it's serious, its time to drop the pretence.

Put down the mask awhile. You are fooling nobody but yourself. Your mate will see the hollow thing that you are before long.

Be real. That's how you save a relationship. You are a flawed creature. If your lover can't accept it, you might need to look for a less delusional human being.

How to save a relationship by taking off the rose coloured glasses

Conversely, you need to see your lover for who they really are too. In the twitterpated stage, we tend to magically conjure rose coloured glasses and distort our friend's image. It might be a very pleasant image. But it's not the truth.

"Truth will out," as the British say. If you've constructed an ideal idol of your lover, you're setting yourself up for disappointment.

Sorry, but she's going to eventually do something you don't like. If you are prepared for it beforehand, you're less likely to judge and criticize your mate.

If you don't take off the distorting lenses, you end up blaming all your relational woes on the other person's little itty-bitty faults.

So, like we said before. Be real about yourself. Your faults probably equal or outweigh theirs. As someone famous said two thousand years ago, "Why worry about the speck in your friend's eye when you have a plank in your own?"

How to save a relationship by accepting the ordinary

Falling in love with someone is very much like the fight or flight response. In fact, chemically, they're almost exactly the same response. 

When you put down money to buy your crush a rose and tell them you're head over heals, there's a huge uncertainty. You brain both loves and is completely frightened by the mystery of it all.

Your body can't survive in fight or flight mode forever. How would you live your life? You'd be forever distracted and dysfunctional. 

This is why it's pertinent to realize those "feelings" of love won't last forever. You and yours will eventually become that "boring old couple." 

You need to accept this early on. It might seem like an impossibility at the time. But preparing yourself for the inevitable is the only way to accept the change.

Be ok with silence. You might have talked for many long hours and into the night when you first met. That's not going to be the case years down the road. And that's ok. It's normal. 

The other chemical

Other chemicals take over in your brain that help with long term pairing. For some reason, most of us are built to adapt to long-term relationships. 

A hormone called oxytocin is responsible for this. It increases the desire to communicate and revs up empathy.

Each time you spend meaningful time with your partner, your body releases oxytocin. It's a self-reinforcing mechanism. The more you love, the more reward, the more you love. 

If you're incompatible, this won't happen. That's ok too. It's best if this happens fairly early on, however. It's much harder to get out of an incompatible relationship later on while remaining unscathed.

Conclusion: There's more

You could fill the Library of Alexandria with advice and writings about love. But only you know yourself and your partner.

This is key to everything. Know yourself. Learn your partner. It's simple sometimes. But other times it's not. 

As we said before, you have to be willing to give and listen. Otherwise, you will fail.

Have you found ways to reinforce your love? Tell about it in the comments below.

Now, be confident. Your love is worth it. Give the gift of an Eternity Rose. Gold lasts longer than the flesh of an unladen flower ever will. 

I would love to hear your comments or answer any questions you might have about this post.

Yours sincerely,   

Dr. Carissa Coulston, Clinical Psychologist

BSc(Hons), MPsychol(Clinical), PhD, MAPS