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Rescue Marriage

“In a successful rescue marriage the partners’ early experiences have been traumatic. They are the walking wounded as they begin their lives together. The healing that takes place during the course of the marriage is the central theme.”

–Judith Wallerstine in The Good Marriage: How and Why Love Lasts

Linda: The importance of having a trusted person to talk to about previous traumas cannot be overstated. Having a confidant is so much more than psychologically and emotionally beneficial. It also assists in the areas of health and longevity. To have a supportive, trusted partner to listen to the strong emotions that erupt periodically due to childhood traumas is a profound benefit.

Prior to the research done in the late 1990’s, even the health profession did not grasp the widespread impact the body of childhood trauma. There was only a limited appreciation of how many people were affected by it, and how far reaching into adulthood the traumas persisted. A joint study was conducted of eighteen thousand, mostly middle class families by the Center for Disease Control and Kaiser Permanente. The leaders of the study were Vincent Feletti and Robert Anda.

A death in the family, a parent in jail, alcoholism, drug addition, divorce, a mentally ill parent, physical, sexual or emotional abuse are all considered childhood traumas. The medical community was stunned to find that nearly two thirds reported at least one of the above adversities and almost half reported two or more. Shockingly large numbers of adults have sustained cumulative traumas during the course of their childhoods. And the resulting chronic stress reaches into adulthood. Robert Block, past president of the American Academy of Pediatrics testified before a Senate committee on children and families saying childhood adversity “may be the leading cause of poor health among adults in the Untied States.”

Many studies are now revealing that in those marriages where one or both partners suffered terrible childhoods, early traumas do not spell more tragedy in their marriages. Many go on to heal and co-create long-term happy marriages filled with love and deep appreciation for their spouse’s support. They often report that their spouse was the most important influence in attaining a high quality of life. In a rescue marriage:

  • A child who was rejected and unwanted is finally accepted, welcomed and cherished.
  • A child who was isolated and lonely finds a welcoming companion to share their life with.
  • A child who lived in fear of being bullied now lives with peace of mind.
  • A child with multiple siblings where there was never enough attention to go around, now has an exclusive relationship.
  • The child who was physically abused is touched only with great tenderness.
  • The child whose sexual boundaries were violated now has a sense of control over their world where their boundaries are honored.
  • The child in a chaotic, unpredictable environment due to drug addiction, alcoholism or mental illness now has peace, harmony, predictability and security.
  • A child who was blamed, criticized scapegoated or humiliated is now treated with dignity, consideration and respect.
  • A child who suffered abandonment through death, divorce or imprisonment no longer suffers from longing for connection. Their partner is alive, well, and available.
  • Because they suffered inadequate parenting as children, they are highly motivated to become excellent parents themselves to spare their children the traumas they experienced.

Psychological growth occurs in all good marriages, but the changes observed in a rescue marriage are more dramatic, obvious, and pronounced. Those with traumatic childhoods have more area to traverse and more pain as a motivator to make the necessary changes. They have an enormous sense of relief in having transcended their traumatic early life. They take pleasure in some of the smallest things that others with less stressful beginning might not even notice. And their sense of this ordinary magic in their lives fills them with exquisite gratitude.



Our newest book, That Which Doesn’t Kill Us: How One Couple Got Stronger at the Broken Places,  has just been published by Sacred Life Publishers and been receiving rave reviews. Their story is illuminating, instructive, and deeply inspiring. It has been described as being as compelling and engaging as a page-turning novel. The book contains powerful messages that are embedded in its pages that can serve any couple that desires valuable wisdom which can serve them in facing the inevitable challenges that frequently confront many committed partnerships. The book is available on-line on and Barnes & Noble. You can also receive a signed copy of That Which Doesn’t Kill Us by ordering directly from Bloomwork by calling (831) 421-9822 or emailing us at [email protected]. The cost is $16.95 plus tax, shipping & handling.

Rescue Marriage


Linda Bloom LCSW and Charlie Bloom MSW are considered experts in the field of relationships. They have been married since 1972. They have both been trained as seminar leaders, therapists and relationship counselors and have been working with individuals, couples, and groups since 1975. They have been featured presenters at numerous conferences, universities, and institutions of learning throughout the country and overseas as well. They have appeared on over two hundred radio and TV programs. Linda and Charlie are co-authors of the widely acclaimed books: 101 Things I Wish I Knew When I Got Married: Simple Lessons to Make Love Last (over 100,000 copies sold) Secrets of Great Marriages: Real Truth from Real Couples about Lasting Love, and Happily Ever After...and 39 Other Myths about Love: Breaking Through to the Relationship of Your Dreams. The Blooms are excited to announce the release of their fourth book, That Which Doesn't Kill Us: How One Couple Became Stronger at the Broken Places. They live in Santa Cruz, California, near their two children and three grandchildren. To view our upcoming events and to sign up for our free newsletter, visit our website at:

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APA Reference
Bloom, L. (2018). Rescue Marriage. Psych Central. Retrieved on July 10, 2020, from


Last updated: 19 May 2018
Statement of review: Psych Central does not review the content that appears in our blog network ( prior to publication. All opinions expressed herein are exclusively those of the author alone, and do not reflect the views of the editorial staff or management of Psych Central. Published on All rights reserved.