"He Loves Sports More Than Me"

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His Turn

"What's wrong with liking sports?" Carlos, 36, asked. "Yes, I am a superfan -- and proud of it. I'm the guy at Yankee Stadium who wears the hat, jersey, and jacket. I'm the fellow who yells to get the crowd cheering and who leads them in the wave. Sports are exciting: I love the competition, the infighting among the players, coaches, and owners, the team rivalries, the thrill of the playoffs. I've never kept any of this a secret. When we were first dating I told Gloria I followed the Knicks -- it was basketball season -- and that I played basketball myself. I didn't feel obligated to account for my activities while we were apart, and I didn't expect her to, either.

"After we moved in together I tried to explain the rules of the various sports, but her eyes glazed over. She'd give me a blank look when I quizzed her on key plays. How hard is it to understand that a pitcher throws the ball into the strike zone? Gloria chose not to pay attention. Eventually I took the high road and stopped asking her to watch with me. If I can accept that she's not interested in sports, why can't she accept that I'm not interested in her cooking and decorating shows? I hate those programs as much as she hates mine.

"Meanwhile, over the past few months, my wife has taken the low road, cutting off our sex life and refusing to cook the foods I like. Gloria may think I didn't get her message, but I did -- and I won't be bullied, especially since I'm not doing anything wrong. As I see it, if we're both home, we're together, even if I'm watching ESPN and she's watching Rachael Ray.

"I was born and raised in the Bronx, the younger son of a carpenter and a jewelry-store clerk. Dad had a violent temper and constantly flew into rages, so I was glad when Mom finally threw him out when I was 10. He disappeared from our lives, but I wasn't sorry. Mom had high standards, which I worked hard to meet: I was a good student, played varsity football, and enlisted in the Navy two weeks after high school graduation. After four years of active duty I got a college degree in legal studies.

"I was 26 when I married my first wife, Sylvia, a dental hygienist. Lucy was born a year later and I had high hopes for a happy family life. I was so busy working and being a dad that I didn't have as much time to follow sports as when I was single. Unfortunately our four-year marriage ended when Sylvia left me for a dentist. I was devastated, but we get along for Lucy's sake.

"As a single dad, my life revolved around Lucy and giving her opportunities I didn't have as a child, such as swimming and music classes. On the nights and weekends that she was with my ex-wife I turned to sports to fill the void. I lifted weights, played basketball, and watched games on TV.

"I'd been divorced for two years when I met Gloria at the train station. I still can't believe I'd never noticed her before: She's a gorgeous brunette with soulful brown eyes and an adorable high-pitched laugh. We clicked from the start, and I quickly fell in love with her intelligence and kindness. Also, I knew she'd be a devoted stepmother and a positive role model for Lucy.

"As Gloria said, our relationship changed after we moved in together. Maybe because I'm eight years older and divorced, my expectations of marriage were different from hers. I didn't want to continue going out four nights a week, especially since we'd agreed to save money for our future, which I hope will include a house and a baby. Besides, we do still go out every now and then.

"As for my encouraging Lucy's interest in sports, Gloria is way out of line to criticize that. I want my daughter to be physically fit and learn the life lessons that come from playing team sports.

"The other night, when Gloria pushed me away in bed, I told her we had to do something. She's not the only one who's unhappy in this marriage: I miss our sex life, her company, and her fabulous cooking. 'Maybe counseling can help,' I said. 'I love you -- and I don't want to lose you.'"

Continued on page 3:  The Counselor's Turn


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