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by Abigail Van Buren

Compromise Is Best Game Plan for Marriage to Sports Fanatic

DEAR ABBY: Having recently wrestled with the same problem as "Mateless," I can give you some specifics:

1. Her husband's sports obsession is a poorly disguised attempt to limit intimacy of all kinds other than what his needs dictate.

2. His sports addiction is stealing from you and your marriage.

3. This is a gambling addict masquerading as an all-American guy enjoying an all-American pastime.

4. Save your breath. If you mean it -- leave. Nothing short of that will get his attention.

My husband, a "wonderful guy," got lost in the same maze. He always defended himself intellectually, but after more than five years of fights, dishonesty and empty promises, I had had it. A second-class life was not a reflection of my worth, and my self-esteem was suffering.

I changed the locks and demanded counseling. We both went, but separately. I had to rebuild my shattered self-esteem. He also joined Gamblers Anonymous. We have been happily married for more than 20 years. It took a lot of work, but now we have many activities that we enjoy together.

It wasn't easy, but there is life beyond sports. -- WIFE OF A RECOVERING SPORTS JUNKIE