Dear Abby: War veteran doesn’t need to prove he is manly

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DEAR ABBY: My family is big on sports and discusses them at every gathering, big or small. I played sports growing up, but I don't care to follow them in my adult life like the rest of my family does. Sometimes I'm left out of conversations because of my lack of knowledge on the current stats, etc. I have always refrained from speaking about the things I'm passionate about because of lack of interest from them.My good friend said maybe I'm considered less of a man by my brothers and my dad because of my apathy about sports. I served eight years in the Army, with four deployments between Iraq and Afghanistan, and was wounded twice. Not a man? This issue may seem childish, but it is something that affects me to this day. Do you have any suggestions? — SITTING ON THE SIDELINESDEAR SITTING: Yes. Stop listening to the armchair analysis of that "friend." When sports enthusiasts spout statistics, what they really want is someone to listen and appreciate their acumen.It's sad that you haven't been able to let your father and brothers know about the things that interest you, but has it occurred to you perhaps you should have spoken up more about your passions? Not everyone is the same; not everyone is interested in the same things. It doesn't mean that anyone is more or less "manly" than someone else. You're a military vet, so stop measuring yourself by anyone else's yardstick because it isn't fair to you or to your family.DEAR ABBY: I just married a wonderful man. "Derrick" is loving, considerate, helpful, smart, hard-working, and he wants to spend time with me as often as possible.This is my second marriage. I have five kids ages 11 to 15, work full-time and try to fit in regular exercise. When my kids are with their dad, Derrick is home every minute I'm there and we do a lot together — hiking, biking, running, movies, dining or just hanging out. He leaves for work after I do and comes home before I arrive.My issue is, if I want any time alone, I have to leave the house. I used to have alone time before I met him, but now it's very rare. Abby, I need a little time for myself once in a while. I am very independent and don't need a companion every minute of every day. I'm becoming unhappy and depressed because I have no privacy.I have told Derrick what I need, but how do I realistically get him out of the house so I can have some time to myself? He has a lot of friends, but he wants to spend his time with me. He isn't controlling or weird or jealous, but I'm feeling smothered. — NEEDS SPACE IN NEVADADEAR NEEDS: Suggest Derrick schedule some regular dates with his male friends — a golf game, card game, some other sporting event, etc. He might enjoy that, and it will give you the breathing room you need. Dear Abby is written by Abigail Van Buren, also known as Jeanne Phillips, and was founded by her mother, Pauline Phillips. Contact Dear Abby at or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.What teens need to know about sex, drugs, AIDS and getting along with peers and parents is in "What Every Teen Should Know." Send your name and mailing address, plus check or money order for $7 (U.S. funds) to: Dear Abby, Teen Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Shipping and handling are included in the price.)

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