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By Donnie Wahlberg

How I lost my Monday nights — but not quite my manhood — to my wife’s favorite TV show. Don’t laugh, it could happen to you, too.

Disclaimer: Do not comment unless you read every word.

This has to be some kind of karmic retribution.

A turning of the tables for all of those husbands out there who had to put up with their wives wanting to go see the New Kids on The Block reunion concerts. Sweet revenge for the nice-guy hubbies who had to put up with their wives talking about how hunky Jordan was, cute Joey still is or how much of a “bad boy” Donnie was, during his Public Enemy T-shirt-wearing rebellious phase.

Payback, for all those men who spent their paychecks on surprise New Kids concert tickets for their spouses. The same guys who had to then shell out another $30 for a Jonathan T-shirt, or even more (than I care to mention) for a meet and greet photo op with the band.

More likely, it’s a quarter century worth of “what comes around goes around.” You know, for all those late-1980s teenage boys who had to compete with my band for the affections of their AquaNet-spraying, high-hair wearing, 16 Magazine-reading, young teenage girlfriends.

What other explanation could there be, that could make sense of the fact that …

I am addicted to the “The Bachelor”!!!

There, I said it. OK?

The freaking Bachelor.

It’s karma, isn’t it?

What other explanation can there be for the fact that I know all these Bachelor guys on a first-name and character-description basis, the same way that so many husbands had to get to know Donnie, Jordan, Danny, Jon and Joe?

Think I’m bluffing?

Well there’s Ben (everybody loves him), Chris (the farm boy), Juan Pablo (with the “fake” Spanish accent), Joe (he broke a single mom’s heart, before Ben broke another single girl’s heart, too) and then there’s Jared (the guy who made Ashley cry 74 times in only four episodes).

I almost dropped the mic after that, but I realized that may not be something to gloat about.

Seriously, though, I think I’m even being punished for what other boy bands did to some men’s nieces’ and daughters’ hearts. Because it seems like for every tear shed over Nick, Howie, Brian, Kevin and AJ, I’ve shed an equal amount of tears over Jubilee, Olivia, Andi, Kaitlyn and Caila. (Thank goodness Caila is the new Bachelorette or I’d be in serious emotional crisis mode).

Part of me just wants to chalk this up to the fact that I am a good husband. Just like all those good husbands who have had to endure the endless NKOTB addictions with their better halves over the years.

That sounds like co-dependency.

What I meant was, I think I’m just being a good husband.

A good husband watches “The Bachelor” for his wife.

A damn good husband even watches “The Bachelorette” for his wife.

I mean, hey, happy wife, happy life. Right?

But who am I kidding?

I also watch “Bachelor in Paradise,” have water-cooler discussions at work about which girl didn’t get a rose, make public predictions about which girl will be “the next Bachelorette” on social media, watch “After the Final Rose” and anxiously await the season finale of “The Bachelor” — as if it were the Super Bowl with my hometown Patriots playing.

(That last one may have been a stretch, but you get the point.)

I know, I know. Cue the jokes.

I was in a boy band. I can take a joke.

Who am I kidding? I’m still in a boy band. I’ve heard every freaking joke ever told about me. They’re the same ones they tell about One Direction and Justin Bieber to this day. Those tired jokes that I always knew weren’t true, because someone told me those same jokes about Rod Stewart and The Bay City Rollers when I was a kid.

Now that may have deserved a mic drop.

Anyway, with “The Bachelor” season finale rapidly approaching, it occurred to me that it may be time to do a little self-reflection. You know, some soul searching. Like, really deep soul searching. Heavy, therapeutic, inner-child, mommy- or daddy-issues type of soul searching.

And, you know, I think I figured it out:

I’ve simply always been a sucker for sentimental TV shows.

It started back in the early ’70s. I loved watching TV shows that made me feel mushy. It started when I was around 7 years old — I’d sneak into my parents room at 4:50 a.m. on Saturday mornings and turn on our old 13-inch black-and-white TV, the only TV set we owned back then. It had missing knobs that forced us to use a butter knife to turn the channels and had a wire coat hanger replacing what used to be an antenna. Once the TV was set to a volume loud enough to hear, but not too loud to wake my parents, I’d hide at the foot of their bed and wait. Back then, TV stations (all three of them) didn’t broadcast until 5 a.m. First came the emergency test, then the national anthem (with some stock footage of Mt. Rushmore and an American flag), then a prayer called Morning Glory.

Then — the moment I waited for all week. My all-time favorite TV show: “Davey And Goliath”!

I had 30 minutes of Davey’s golden heart and Goliath’s doofy voice, all to myself! Baby Donnie (as my mom called me) was in absolute heaven. I remember the theme song. The stories. The lessons. The morals. But my life changed during the Easter special — when Davey’s grandma died. It was right after her and Davey sang “The Jickets will beat the Squeegies” for Davey’s baseball team. I literally sobbed on the floor until my mom woke up and gave me a hug.

Something about that TV, those shows and those times, still resonates with me. I think, somehow, this Bachelor stuff all comes from there. With nine kids in the house, we didn’t always get a lot of alone time — nevermind any TV time. We also didn’t get attention from our parents (much like a male contestant on “The Bachelorette”). But on those mornings, in their bedroom, even when they were sleeping — I felt close to my parents. Safe. That was my time to dream. To laugh. To cry. To imagine another life. One with fewer struggles. One with a whole lot of happy.

I’ve cried watching TV ever since.

I cried during the commercial where the American Indian shed a single tear because of all the trash and litter ruining our planet.

I cried when the Red Sox lost a one-game playoff to the Yankees in 1978.

I damn near had a breakdown when Old Yeller died.

I had a soft spot for the teddy bear in the Snuggle fabric softener commercials.

I cried when Mr. Evans died on “Good Times.”

I cried, and still cry, watching the Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer Christmas special, with the abominable snowman. I always feel for Hermie the Elf who wants to be a dentist, and all those screwed-up gifts on the Island of Misfit Toys.

I cried during the M*A*S*H finale.

I ruptured a few blood vessels from bawling my eyes out during Arsenio Hall’s final show.

I wept like a baby when Carrie Underwood won “American Idol.”

I even allowed the world to see me cry during my own televised wedding.

Just like they see me cry today, when my wife posts videos of me sobbing during episodes of the stinking “Bachelor.”

Maybe I’m hopeless. Maybe I’m just a softie.

Or maybe, just maybe, I’m still the kid who watched TV all those years ago and dreamed of having an awesome life like so many people I saw on that old 13-inch Zenith.

I think I have a good life now. I have two awesome sons, an amazing stepson, a cool dog, a dozen fun jobs, loyal fans — and I have a truly wonderful wife whom I adore.

I’ll watch whatever she wants me too, and if I become addicted to it and have to be the butt of a few jokes for it, whatever.

It won’t be the first time I was the butt of a joke. Won’t be the last. Because, what I also learned watching TV all those years ago, is that you’ve got to be able to laugh at yourself.

And if you’re lucky, it might just get you a rose.

Hopefully, on “The Bachelor” finale — JoJo will be getting one, too!

Who are you rooting for?

[splash.suntimes.com]

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