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by Abigail Van Buren

DEAR READERS: Yesterday I printed some of the many responses to the letter from "Mateless in Milwaukee," whose husband was obsessed with football. Today I'll share more of the excellent letters I received:

DEAR ABBY: When I met my husband, he, too, filled his time with sports events six days a week. My interest in sports was limited.

After we had dated a while, I asked him to compromise by leaving two nights a week free for me. When we became more serious, he voluntarily gave up a third night of his sports activities. When we got married, he cut down a bit more, and after we bought our house he cut down even more. After 13 years of marriage, my husband is still very interested in sports -- but his priorities are different.

However, I have done some serious compromising myself: When he participated in sports, I would go along to watch. I learned the names of the teams and what cities they were from. We used to play a trivia game where he'd name a city and I would name all the teams that played there. Today I read or do crafts in the living room while he watches games or listens to sports news, and I have learned a lot more about players and strategy than I ever thought I'd want to know.

You can't expect a sports nut to give up sports completely. I still know not to talk during the sports analysis on ESPN. Think of it this way: At least it's not wine, women or song. -- LEARNED TO LOVE IT

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

DEAR ABBY: Please share our advice with "Mateless in Milwaukee" and her husband. (We were in the same boat when we first married.)

TO THE HUSBAND: Cut back one league. Have a separate phone line for your football messages. Make football fun for your wife -- get the guys and their wives to meet at a nice sports restaurant on Sundays and watch the game over pizza and beer.

Take a road trip with another couple to see a game: get a hotel, have a tailgate picnic, sightsee, etc.

TO THE WIFE: Buy his team T-shirt and wear it on game day. Learn about his favorite players and discuss them with him. Place small wagers with him. Encourage Sunday sports outings with other couples. Take turns with other couples hosting game parties.

TO BOTH: Go out of your way to make your marriage fun for each other.

We did all of the above and we're ... HAPPY IN CHESAPEAKE BEACH

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