Synergists and Qualities Salient to Low-Income Parents' Positive Assessment of Marital Health


low income, marital assessment, marital quality, positive psychology, relationship flourishing, relationship theory


Researchers sought low-income couples who considered their marriages to be “good or very good” to inform the process of how individuals and their partners establish and maintain a healthy marriage under significant financial limitations. Twenty married parents participated in semistructured interviews that sought their insights into backgrounds and antecedents that impacted their own and their partners' development and current positive marital assessment. Analysis using grounded theory methods generated a model that posits synergists enhancing the development of qualities that contributed to spouses' positive assessments. The four synergists were sensitizing experiences, a partner-as-rescuer mind-set, acute parental influences, and religious influences. The four requisite high-priority qualities associated with these synergists were love, commitment, appreciation, and child-centeredness.

Original Publication Citation

Thompson, S. G., Smith, D., Whiting, J. B., & Bradford, K. (2013). Synergists and Qualities Salient to Low-Income Parents’ Positive Assessment of Marital Health. Marriage and Family Review, 49, 148-176. doi:

Document Type

Peer-Reviewed Article

Publication Date


Permanent URL


Marriage & Family Review




Family, Home, and Social Sciences


Family Life

University Standing at Time of Publication

Full Professor