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by Abigail Van Buren

Sports Fan's Wife Wants Timeout for Personal Foul

DEAR ABBY: My husband, "Bob," is high-strung. Even my mother-in-law forewarned me about his rowdy, rough-and-tumble behavior. Bob is a sports nut whose favorite athletic activities are football, hockey and pro-wrestling.

Bob gets excited over any sport, and usually I can, too -– especially hockey. What I don't like is his need to "act out" the rough stuff he's previously viewed on television. For some reason that only he can understand, Bob seems to enjoy coming after me, scooping me up by my limbs and pinning me to the wall or the floor. I have repeatedly asked him to stop during the six years we have been married, but to no avail.

Some nights before we go to sleep he gets so restless and into what he calls "playing" that I have to literally defend myself against his sparring, poking and jabbing. Recently I have had to kick, scratch and bite him just to get him to stop. Even our beloved cat runs away from him.

Abby, please don't suggest counseling. I'm willing to go, but I know Bob won't. He'd say nothing is wrong, and in the presence of others, deny everything. He's polite around other people, but when we're alone, he's suddenly crude and obnoxious. It's as if it's something he's proud of.

Except for his obviously boorish, abusive behavior, everything else is fine. Is there a constructive way to get Bob to stop his rough "playing," or is it time to call this marriage quits? -- NOT A CRASH-TEST DUMMY IN WASHINGTON

DEAR NOT A DUMMY: Wake up. Your husband's behavior is not "high-strung"; it's physically abusive and sadistic, and it could cause you a serious injury. For your own safety you must draw the line. Something is wrong with Bob. It's all right to be a sports fan, but what he's doing is not normal behavior.

Although you don't want to hear this, I think counseling would do you a world of good. If Bob refuses to go, go without him. It will give you valuable insight not only into why he's behaving the way he does, but also why you have tolerated this for six years. Please don't delay. And you'd be wise to consider separating until Bob is willing to modify his behavior.

DEAR ABBY: "Waiting in Arlington, Texas," works in a hospital and has a crush on a repair man. She said she wrote him a note but he didn't respond, so she summoned the courage to hand him a second note. When he failed to acknowledge it, she asked him if he had read it. His reply: "Nice penmanship."

She asked you what she should do to get a more direct response, and you advised her that she'd already received a response –- he wasn't interested.

Abby, you may not have considered all of the possibilities. For example, the man may not be able to read the note. The response he gave was certainly evasive –- but was he trying to avoid giving her a straight answer or the fact that he's illiterate? There may be more to this than a simple rejection. -– MYSTIFIED IN MISSOURI

DEAR MYSTIFIED: It's true that some people who are illiterate are so ashamed of it that they will do almost anything to hide it. However, "Waiting" also disclosed that, "Rumor has it that he's seeing someone." Therefore, it's also possible that the man felt his personal life was none of her business.

However, since every player is entitled to three strikes, I'm printing your letter. If "Waiting" sees it, I'm sure she'll step up to the plate again.

To receive a collection of Abby's most memorable -- and most frequently requested -- poems and essays, send a business-sized, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $3.95 ($4.50 in Canada) to: Dear Abby's "Keepers," P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, Ill. 61054-0447. (Postage is included.)

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