3 Steps to Starving Your Married Crush Quickly

It was five summers ago. The lazy mid-day warmth of June filled the window-framed room at our local library. The chilly air of spring was behind us.

Emotionally, it had been a difficult few months. The responsibilities of daily life held a strong grasp on my husband Ted’s attention. And whether reality agreed with me or not, I’d come to feel neglected, unnoticed, and unloved.

As my two young daughters sat on daisy-shaped stools, participating in the branch’s weekly toddler time, my gaze wandered around the room, studying the other parents. It was then that I noticed a 30-something father with his two small sons. Something about him caused my gaze to linger.

Later, as I buckled my daughters into their car seats, my thoughts returned to this stranger.

That’s when concern set in. I realized the seeds of a crush were attempting to take root, and my fragile emotional state was fertile ground. I felt my resolve to keep my heart steadfastly faithful to my husband wanting to waiver.

Snapping back to my senses, I made a decision. No more toddler time—at least for now. I was unwilling to return to a situation where a crush had the potential to develop.

Newlyweds can have crushes too.
You may be thinking, “What’s this story have to do with me? I’m newly married.” But before you stop reading, hear me out.

Even though, yes, you’re just starting out, that doesn’t leave you immune to crushes. I’d venture to guess you’ve brought a pesky thing called “unrealistic expectations” into your new union — and when unmet, they can leave you vulnerable if you aren’t careful.

In her article Marriage Killer #1: Unrealistic Expectations Kimberly Wagner writes:

I didn’t grasp the “big picture” when I entered into my marriage covenant. I was thinking romance, sunset walks holding hands, cuddling together on the couch. Basically I thought marriage was going to be something like a fifty-year date! I had a rude awakening.

Reality settles in quickly, and a young bride can end up crushed with disappointment if she enters marriage with unrealistic expectations.”

With this “rude awakening” can come the temptation to scope out “greener fields.” Perhaps it’s a co-worker who listens better than your spouse. Or, it could be an individual at the gym who — unlike your husband or wife — shares your concern for health and fitness. If you’re disappointed or disillusioned in your new marriage, you may be tempted to seek affirmation elsewhere.

Crushes aren’t as harmless as they seem.
OK, so maybe you’re more vulnerable than you thought. “But, really?” you ask, “What’s so bad about a crush anyway? It’s not like I’d act on it. It’s harmless.”

Sure, popular culture views what’s been termed as “married crushes” as no big deal. In fact, discussions on the topic in popular magazines, lifestyle shows, and blogs encourage crushes, as long as they’re kept within the “fantasy” realm.

But the truth is, from a biblical perspective, married crushes are sexual immorality.

Matthew 5:27-28 clearly lays this out. Here Jesus says,

You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart.”

Lust, defined as “to have a yearning or desire,” isn’t always sexual in nature. It can also be an emotional yearning for attention. And isn’t that what a crush often is?

So what do you do, if like me, you feel a crush forming? Or perhaps, you’re already entertaining one? Here are some practical tips.

How to starve a crush

  1. Be honest. After that day at toddler time, I got honest with myself, asking deep questions. Why did I feel drawn to this man? Was there a need or desire I was trying to fill in an inappropriate way? Turns out, I desired the attention I perceived as lacking at home. The problem was that a crush wasn’t the appropriate answer to this legitimate need. Instead, a proper response was to talk directly to Ted and work through it with him. I needed to feed my marriage.
  2. Be accountable. If a crush lingers, it’s helpful to tell a trusted, godly friend of the same sex about it. While it’s important to pick someone who won’t condemn or ridicule, at the same time he or she needs to be an individual who’s not afraid to discourage the crush from continuing. Don’t choose a friend who’ll just dismiss the issues of your heart as “normal.” Accountability is powerful. It’s a lot harder to feed a secret crush when it’s not so secret.
  3. Be willing to run. That June day in my minivan, I ran away from a potential crush. I quickly fled. I believe applying Paul’s instruction in 1 Corinthians 6:18 to “flee sexual immorality” can be like water on the developing flames of a crush. It was for me.

Crushes aren’t inevitable.
I learned a valuable lesson that day at our local library—that, as Rich Mullins once penned,

We are not as strong as we think we are.”

No one is immune to developing a crush. Marriage alone doesn’t protect us from it. But the good news is that through honesty, accountability, and the commitment to flee, crushes aren’t inevitable.

A lot has changed since that morning five years ago. Now when I reflect on my marriage, I no longer feel neglected, unnoticed, or unloved. While I do have the occasional day I long for more attention, it’s not a defining characteristic of my relationship with Ted. We’ve successfully navigated through that difficult season.

And every once in a while, I think back to the dad at the library—thankful that he is nothing more than a reminder of my determination to always starve a crush and feed my marriage.


Ashleigh Slater is the author of the book, Team Us: Marriage Together (Moody Publishers). As the founder and editor of the webzine Ungrind and a regular contributor at several popular blogs and websites, she unites the power of a good story with biblical truth and practical application to encourage couples. She has 20 years of writing experience and a master’s degree in communication. Ashleigh lives in Atlanta with her husband Ted and four daughters. To learn more, visit AshleighSlater.com.

  • Brian Canter

    What a great article. So many people think because they are in a “good place” in their life that temptation would never take hold. All of us are vulnerable and we need to be aware at all times.

  • Ashleigh, great article! Thank you for being vulnerable about your experience and straightforward with your advice. This is an important topic and I think your words will give some people a wake up call.

  • So well written Ashleigh. Thank you for putting into words what so many married couples experience but may not know how to handle biblically. Keep up the great articles!

  • Lindsay

    Excellent advice! It’s so key to “flee,” just as you mentioned, whenever we catch ourselves trying to justify inappropriate or lingering feelings.

    On a related note re: pre-marital counseling, my pastor says it’s the couples who mention “that would never happen to us” or “we aren’t worried about that at all” that concern him the most. What naivete! We have an enemy out to destroy Christian marriages and families, one by one. We ought to be vigilant…not fearful or worried, just on guard.

    Thanks for sharing this story with the SMR community!

  • Becci

    What a really insightful article that every couple should heed. I, unfortunately, was not on guard in my marriage. My husband was the love of my life; someone I considered my soul mate. However, after 24 years of marriage with a man who attended church with me and our teens every week, I discovered that my husband had been having multiple affairs. He had even lured happily married women into adulterous affairs. It was only when I felt compelled by the Holy Spirit to check our cell phone usage and bills (something my husband had always paid and controlled) that I found the evidence in black and white. A call to his latest lover confirmed my suspicions when she admitted that they had been having an affair for 7 months without her husband or myself being any the wiser.

    Gradually, as I dug deeper, I found that my husband had been having affairs for years and that he was heavily addicted to triple X pornography. I was disgusted to learn this. I then learned that he had molested two young girls. However, he was such a convincing liar that even our pastor and his wife had no clue that my husband had been leading a second life. I have filed for divorce, and after 8 long months, our divorce becomes final on February 14th

    My advice to other women (and men) is to keep your eyes open. There is such a thing as being too trusting. Although the lines of communication had always been open between my husband and I (we were even going walking every day, holding hands, and sending each other love messages) I now realize that he was telling me what he wanted me to think and believe while refusing to talk about what was really going on in his life. If he had been willing to tell me that he was experiencing temptations, I would have gotten us into counseling. We had family devotions and prayer every night and our teenage children were as shocked to discover their dad’s real life as I was. Nothing can destroy a marriage and family like an affair

  • Great article Ashleigh…I love that song by Rich Mullins and it’s so good to walk humbly in our marriages and remember we are not as strong as we think we are. You made the right decision to drive away from that toddler time!

  • Christin Poblano

    Thank you

  • Adriana

    Hi there….great article. My question though: what do we do about our crush when we work with them?

    • Adriana, the first thing I’d do is confide in a trusted friend who you know won’t encourage your crush and ask her to keep you accountable. Encourage her to ask you about your day at work and your thoughts/feelings regarding this co-worker. Also, I’m not sure how friendly your relationship is with this co-worker, but if it is fairly personal, I’d pull back. Leave it as professional as possible. While it may feel weird to do so, your marriage is more important than this work relationship. I hope that helps!

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