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
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.