Prosperity and Relationships
By James Collister



When we hear the word Prosperity we are immediately inclined to thinking of financial success. Even the dictionary makes this implication when it defines Prosperous/Prosperity as — Having success; Flourishing; Enjoying financial security; Propitious: Favorable. The core meaning of the word is “enjoying steady good fortune or financial security.”  

Can one have relationship prosperity? Even though we seldom think to use the word in these terms, I say we can. In order to understand Prosperity as it relates to relationship, however, we need to listen to and understand the word in a new way.

By thinking of prosperity in terms of financial wealth we get trapped into believing it can be measured. We then say if a person has X amount of money s/he is by definition ‘prosperous.’ This common misunderstanding is simply not true.   

Prosperity, like love, is not a ‘thing’ that can be measured; it is an experience that can only be personally declared. I remember hearing a person share in a seminar that he could write a check for over $100 million and the bank would honor it, yet he didn’t feel really happy or prosperous; even though others said he was ‘prosperous’ and ‘should’ be happy.

When asked how much money he would need to really feel prosperous, he thought for a minute and said, “I guess I would need to have all the money in the world.”  When I looked at him as he said this, I could see he was really serious — this was not a joke. I also saw how sad he was when he realized his concept of measuring had him trapped and precluded him from ever experiencing prosperity, success and happiness.

This is what happens when we try to develop a subjective measurement for any experience. When we consider prosperity as an experience and not a thing, we can begin to use the term in describing our experience of relationship. However, in order to do this we must be willing to accept our self as the responsible speaker who is continuously creating our experience of life.

For personal relationships to prosper, there is no question that there needs to be a sense of financial security. The psychologist, Abraham Maslow, stated that Self Actualization rests on a base of having our survival needs met. We must realize that one of the main causes of relationship problems is financial insecurity or uncertainty, but this is a survival question, not a question of prosperity. The question that matters is “Does financial prosperity guarantee relationship prosperity?”  When we consider this question, we need to remember the Beatles song, “Money Can’t Buy Me Love.”

We all know of, or perhaps have personally experienced, financially prosperous relationships that failed. Why?

Just as Maslow taught us that Self Actualization evolves through a hierarchy of needs, relationships also evolve in five stages or levels. I call these five levels of relationships — Past Wounds, Playful/Casual, Working, Empowering and Blissful. It is in the last two that we have the full experience of Prosperity in our relationship.

Everyone who starts a new relationship comes into it with a history of past hurts, failures, betrayals or feelings of incompletion. These are our wounds. One of the reasons we enter into a new relationship is to find a way to heal these past wounds. In fact, healing past wounds is one of the primary functions of relationship.

When we deny that we have past wounds or are unwilling to let go of them, we significantly limit our ability to be truly emotionally available and intimate. A potentially successful relationship begins when we find another wounded person and mutually commit to GETTING WELL TOGETHER.

The willingness to venture out and seek another to relate to is the beginning of the first active level of relationship — Playful/Casual. All relationships start with the desire to find someone with whom we can play. We’re not starting out to be serious or significant; we just want to experience Playfulness. At this level we are learning how to be together in a mood of recreation and to enjoy each others company — to become friends. The experience is one of infatuation and attraction based on our desire and stories of romantic love.

The second level is Working Relationship. At the Working level, each person continues to have their own individual personal goals. We begin to learn how to share our goals, the tasks and jobs of the relationship, and how to coordinate actions together. We learn each other’s boundaries, strengths and weaknesses.

In this process we often step on each other’s toes, which results in having small or large arguments about ‘who was right’ and ‘who was wrong.’ Each person’s experience of the relationship vacillates from affection to wariness, cooperation to individualism, and self interest to support.

The third level of relationship is Empowering. This is when we begin to experience Prosperity in our relationship. By prosperity I mean experiencing a sense of mutual success, a flourishing of our ‘self’ in the relationship, and the feeling that ‘we are succeeding’ and ‘we are getting better together.’ The relationship itself becomes a supportive base for each person and as a couple, to step out into the world with a feeling of confidence and the commitment to make a difference wherever we go, and with whom ever we meet. We begin to experience personal power.

The empowering relationship has a mutually-created purpose of service, commitment and meaning. The experience of each person is one of mutual acknowledgment, compassion, forgiveness, and acceptance of our own personal responsibility for being the source of our experience of life. There is no feeling of victimization. This only happens when both persons realize that in order to live together in a prosperous and empowering way, each must give up their personal attachment and need to be ‘right.’  Prosperity begins when right/wrong ends.

The forth level of relationship is Blissful. In the Blissful Relationship each person 100% supports him/her self, the other person, and commits to a purpose larger than their own self interest — the relationship and life. The experience is one of surrendering to the relationship, not to each other but the goals, purposes, and aspirations that each person mutually declares and agrees to for the relationship.

This is when we ‘fall into the unknown future together.’ The relationship truly has meaning and a life. Each person greets the day and their partner in the mood of ‘THIS IS IT!’ There is nothing else to hold out for, or to withhold from the other person or life. This is living in the NOW, NOW, NOW.

This is the experience of Prosperity in Relationship. We can’t deny that financial prosperity is important. Relationship Prosperity, however, can be experienced with a minimum of financial resources and is like no other experience two people can share. It truly is the Dance of Life where each person experiences the definition of Prosperity — enjoying steady good fortune.

Jim Collister, The Relationship Master, is the founder of Excel In Living Institute, an educational firm offering public seminars on building relation-ships. He is the author of the award winning book, "The Last Relationship Book You'll Need." Contact

Return to the September/October Index page