divorced after the affair

Almost 87% of you are still married after discovery of the affair. And most of you made that decision fairly soon after D-day.  Why is that?

In one of our reader surveys it was apparent that most of those who responded made the decision rather quickly to remain married after the affair.

The data showed that 80.3% of the respondents decided within one year on whether or not to get a divorce, with 74.4% deciding to stay married.

All told, 86.3% responded that they are in fact still married. There is still some uncertainty (21.5%), but the overwhelming choice was/is to stay married.

The questions we asked were:

How long after discovery was there a decision as to whether to stay married or get a divorce?

Less than 3 months – 42.7%

Three months to a year – 37.6%

More than a year – 19.7%

 

What was the decision?

To stay married – 74.4%

To get a divorce – 4.1%

Still undecided – 21.5%

 

One of the readers made the following statement that was interesting:

I suspect that if the majority of respondents had been male rather than female, the number of couples remaining married would have been far less. In my experience, women who have been betrayed are far more likely to ‘forgive’ and put the needs of their families/children above their own….and far more able to be the ones who re-build the relationship.”

We thought perhaps this would make for a good topic for discussion. So, we’re going to change things up a bit this week and have a focused discussion on this topic, rather than just an open forum of sorts.

See also  Open ‘Mic’ Discussion #4

Here are the discussion questions to consider…

  • With so many of you deciding rather quickly to remain married after an affair, what were the driving forces for that decision?
  • Any particular reason (or reasons) for making the decision rather quickly?  For instance, was it due to fear, love, forgiveness, financial concerns, or desire to keep the family together?
  • Conversely, for any of you who decided to divorce, what were the driving forces behind that decision – and why was it made rather soon after discovery of the affair?

Please reply in the comment section below with as much detail as necessary, and feel free to respond to one another.

Thanks!

Linda & Doug

 

 

    34 replies to "Discussion – Why Didn’t You Get Divorced After the Affair?"

    • Hopeful

      For me I try to look at it honestly and the main factor I felt compelled to stay with my husband was my kids. I am not sure if we did not have them if I would have persevered. However who knows what our lives would have been like without kids.

      • Strengthrequired

        Hopeful, I too persevered for our kids. I too am not sure I would have stayed if we didn’t. Yet it is hard to say,

    • Strengthrequired

      I knew from dday, that I wanted to stay married. I loved him, we also had young children to think of, which was a main deciding factor in fighting for my marriage. Yet as time went on and his affair kept on continuing, it became harder to fight for, what seemed an endless battle.
      However, in saying that, as time went on, it became harder for my ch to let me go, yet I believe he had trouble with that at the beginning too.

    • Shifting Impressions

      I love the quote, about staying because we want to. Why did I stay?? I was a puddle on the floor when I discovered the affair….because of that I knew it was not a good time to make major decisions. My husband ended the affair the day I discovered it…..that was probably a major factor as well.

      My children were grown and financially I would have been able to divorce, so what stopped me?

      There had been too many years of love, and my family means everything to me. I knew I had to give us a chance to work this through. But all through the last three years I would tell myself (often saying it aloud) I DON’T HAVE TO STAY. I DON’T HAVE DECIDE RIGHT NOW. I HAVE CHOICES.

      This helped me gain some feeling of control. I also told him that I only wanted him to stay if he wanted to.

      Even if we don’t make it through I need to know we gave it everything. Once divorce proceedings are started it’s hard to “turn the car around”. So rather than deciding NOT to divorce I made the decision to put off the decision, if that makes sense.

      Part of me realizes that three years later I might still be sitting on the fence……but as time goes on I am getting closer to getting off the fence and saying I’m all in. We looked at each other recently and said “We are still here” and we are slowly moving forward. That would not have been the case it I had gone straight to the divorce lawyer.

      Right now we are both staying because WE WANT TO not because we have to. There is freedom in that thought.

      • grappling

        I agree that holding onto the right to leave or stay reduces the sense of powerlessness inflicted on me by the affair. I read somewhere that an affair is when two other people without your knowledge or consent decide to change your life forever.

      • Cheryl

        You worded it perfectly-that you have choices! I needed to read that! My DD was less than a week ago and I didn’t rush to divorce but I keep tossing it around in my mind, because he doesn’t know if he’s going to give her up. But he doesn’t want a divorce.

        My pride is what is rushing me into wanting to leave to just get on with my life.

        Your comment has given me some peace (if only for a little while). I to have choices and I don’t need to rush to any decision.

    • Fragments of Hope

      At times along the bumpy road of reconciliation and especially at D-Day 2 I would have gone if it wasn’t for keeping the family together. At the time of D-Day 1 (emotional affair with meetings and dinners and lies!) our children were 13, 11, 9 and 6. Without telling me that there was someone else in the background we were getting on very badly (I wonder why?) and we had begun discussions about our relationship and if we should stay together. Even when D-Day 1 happened, I took a careful look at the whole history of our relationship and what was good about us, talking with a friend. I formed the opinion that there was too much to lose without giving our relationship its best shot. He seemed to have switched off completely and was pushing to split up at first but then started to back off. As I say, reconciliation has not been a straight course and he has made big mistakes. If it wasn’t for the kids I would at the very least taken a long separation, it hasn’t been easy not to get the breathing space and to keep going when I wasn’t sure I wanted to. I’ve felt the burden of being a mess and keeping the reason why from the kids. At the moment I’m enjoying the positives but have it in mind that when the children leave home I will really think about where we are and whether we should continue in a relationship or just be amicable parents. It will depend on how we grow and grow together or apart in between.

    • TheFirstWife

      At first glance I stayed b/c I had no $. He had one foot out the door and I prayed to hang on for 90 days so I could get some $ in my name. I had no idea if he would continue to support me & our children. I could not afford our mortgage payment without his financial support.

      I also still loved him and wanted to put this behind us.

      However I could see he was getting ready to leave me and said multiple times he didn’t want to be married. So by the 60th day I had to face reality and he was leaving.

      But we made it to 90 days and there was hope. By then the affair had started up again so he had 2 women fighting for him. Big ego boost.

      After dday2 I wanted out. I had enough and I had gathered enough $ to survive for a year w/out his financial help. I don’t earn a lot of $ but I saved every penny I could get my hands on.

      The first two months after dday2 I saw his supreme effort and I was SO HAPPY! He was really trying hard. But then I found out he lied about every aspect and detail of the affair. I was rock bottom all over again and again I wanted out. I was done being lied to again and again.

      His stupidity led him to believe lying was thecway out of this mess. Except he never expected the OW would send me all the emails. He made it seem like she pursued him. In reality he pursued her. He made it seem like she asked him out. In reality he made it all happen.

      So for almost three full years I am on the fence. Yes I love him. always will. But I am tired of fighting my way through life with him now.

      A simple suggestion from me last week turned into an argument as he said “I can see you will be mad until I do what you want”. I was highly upset b/c I made a suggestion and he didn’t to do it. Fine by me. However I was only trying to understand the explanation of why he didn’t want to do it. I asked a few questions which annoyed him and BOOM an argument ensued. In years past I would have stopped the conversation at the first roadblock or disagreement developing.

      Now I stand my ground which he is not used to and he gets angry & upset when I question something.

      Very different dynamic now than before his affairs.

      And also as he has denied his 4 year EA from 20 years ago I feel like I have been disrespected our entire marriage.

      So I stay for love and kids. but if it is not fulfilling or gratifying and they are out of the house soon enough I may move on as well.

      But I know IF we divorced I have given it everything and tried my hardest. But at the end of the day I am not the one that cheated twice. He is.

      I am not the one that asked for a divorce twice. He is.

      I am not the one who hid behind an affair and blamed me for all that was wrong in his life. He did.

    • Tabs

      My mother was literally dying of cancer when my first Dday occurred. She told me not to give up on my marriage just yet, and to be patient. I wasn’t going to argue. So I sat by her bedside and just listened to what she had to say. My mom was the reason I decided to stay in the marriage. That, plus the fact that I was also too emotionally drained to pursue divorce. Reconciliation was postponed for a couple years after Dday. Something I don’t think I totally realized until 5 years later.

    • Hopeful

      Well for me there are a number of reasons.

      First because i would want my son to grow besides his father.Second is because deep down in my heart i tend to believe there is a good side of him …..thirdly because i am a christian i know God hates divorce and requires us to forgive as much as possible.

      But i must say its not easy at all…..am just here praying and hoping for the best.

    • Londa

      I stayed because I am in love with him despite finding out he cheated. I also recently realized I stayed was due was to low self-esteem, I would rely on him for any and everything. If I woke feeling good, looking good and with an overall positive attitude and he gave me an indication he did agree with my good ole feelings, they would deflate. I would then spend the day in a whirlwind of feelings of what I think he feels about me. Terrible, it was all terrible. My most recent DDay was some months back this year and I’m just starting realize I provided own happiness, and I’ve finally let go of ‘blaming” myself for his choices of having an affair.

    • Falling Ash

      I am still here 2½ years post DDay. Why am I here? It is a question I ask myself every day. I think it is because I don’t want to give up my almost 17 years investment and all the hard work I have put in during my relationship with OH. The fact that he chose to be an emotional clam and not deal with his issues of self-doubt in a healthy way, instead of an an EA, is HIS problem to deal with. He has been in counselling over a year for this.

      I am 10 weeks into counselling to regain my own feelings of self-worth after his betrayal and am learning to rely on myself more and more and value me as a person.

      The way I now see it, it is up to OH to give me positive reasons to stay. I haven’t fully decided yet if we definitely do have a future, but will keep working towards that goal, unless he messes up again. In that case it would definitely be over.

    • Butterball

      I want to ask for some advice here. My situation is actually quite different from anyone else’s here, but I don’t want to go into the details because I know some people will judge it negatively. However, certain aspects of it are very similar so I will ask this question based on the similarities. When your husband is still in the affair and he is going back and forth between you and the affair partner, and you know he is in a midlife crisis and needs some time to get it out of his system, and he actually has told you that he needs some time, but you and he both know he is morally wrong, what do you do when he walks out the door each time? When you have told him you will be patient because he has asked you to be patient but he also knows he is hurting and humiliating you as you have told him he is doing so even though he told you he didn’t want to to do that? How do you say goodbye each time without letting him have it and scaring him from coming home again out of shame? How do you keep the door open for him until he comes to his senses without at the same time being a total doormat and making it easier for him to hurt himself and you even more as you know he will eventually feel the guilt of what he is doing? I know he is in fantasyland at the moment but even he has admitted he knows it will eventually wear off. Basically, I am in a cake eating situation that I know WILL end even if the time comes when I can safely tell him he has to knock it off and he WILL (don’t say I should be overconfident about this as there is something fundamentally different from everyone else on this site about our situation that makes me confident). I guess what I need to know is how to survive and grow our relationship into something better WHILE he is making me feel neglected and treated unfairly? I’m not in a situation where either one of us is choosing not to be with the other. We are committed to one another and unless we both were to mutually agree to end it, we won’t.

      • Hopeful

        Butterball, My experience was very different since my husband had two affairs. One ended 15 months before dday due to him stopping it. The other affair he had not seen her in 5 years and they had sporadic email contact every 6-12 months. So I personally have not been in the same situation.

        What I did was I read a lot though. I feel like it helped me a lot. I was voracious and read any and all books. The John Gottman books were all excellent as well as an article he had published in the Atlantic. I really found Not Just Friends by Shirley Glass was good. That helped me most with the infidelity. The John Gottman books I would say helped with that but even more so our marriage and relationship. There are some excellent points in there. I learned about him from my husband after he showed me the article in The Atlantic. Many parts of it stood out to my husband. And we still refer to that 20+ months later.

        Also I think it would be helpful for just you to see a therapist. If you wanted to go as a couple that is good too. I went alone since my husband is in the mental health field he did not want to go. That is another issue. But in a way I am glad I went alone. It has been a great spot for me to get feedback, have someone listen to me and get support and validation. I was careful to find someone who is licensed and he specializes in marital/infidelity counseling. He is also in favor of marriages succeeding unless there is abuse of some form. Not all therapist support staying in marriages with betrayal.

        I knew personally I wanted to try my hardest to work it out with my husband for the sake of our 25+ years together and our kids. When I decided that though I had some pretty strict boundaries we agreed to at my suggestion. I had always been really relaxed and never questioned him. I am confident and busy and never cared who he golfed with etc. Well after all of this it is different. The boundaries have evolved and some are just habits he does without even thinking about it. Our boundaries include no contact with either ow, if there is contact he is to tell me immediately and we decide together if and how to respond, he calls me mid day from work, calls me on the way home from work, if he makes any social plans he has to check with me first, he has to tell me who and where they are going, he decides before he goes how late he will be out and how much he will drink, if they change plans he calls or texts me. There are more but those are the most important ones. He says his goal is so that whatever he does, says or writes/types I could hear, watch or read. He has put this all on himself and thinks about me and the kids. I would say there were a few slip ups in the beginning where he went to different restaurants than he said and things like that. He gets it though and understands if he wants to be married to me we need to have trust and after what he has done this is the only way to build trust. Now I would say the majority of our effort is spent on our relationship and less focused on the betrayal.

        Good luck and hang in there.

        • Butterball

          Trust is a big issue for me. It’s something very important to the both of us, that we both trust eachother completely. I want to trust him, I want him to give me a reason to trust him. It’s not that he is doing anything behind my back or deceiving me in any way. That I am sure of. But he has broken some very important promises and is doing things that he and I both know are morally wrong, but he is just making excuses to me about them. And he knows I know him better than anyone and can tell when he is just feeding me bullshit, but he goes ahead and does it anyway. He has never been able to lie to me and he knows that and I can’t regard these excuses as lies because I am sure he knows I know they are nonsense.

          I want to give him a chance to realize for himself the mistakes he has made as I think with time he will but at what price will that come? I worry about the guilt he will feel toward what he has done to me and that this will push him away from me in the long run. I am trying to balance telling him what he is doing is not acceptable to me nor is he going about things in a morally acceptable way, but that I understand he will do it anyway and that there is nothing I can do to stop it and that I will be patient.

          One thing that is different about our situation is that it would be quite easy for him to make it right and moral. Not a lot easier for me, but right. A lot easier than it would be for any of your spouses. He’s choosing not to, for reasons that have to do with the core issue that is the cause of his mid-life crisis in the first place, which is not due to any fault of mine. I know that. I know he is not doing this to hurt me intentionally but he has certain fears that are overwhelming him and making him act irrationally and he is trying to put a solution in place for those, and after that he intends to do the right thing. The thing is he could have done the right thing from the outset. And he isn’t. And that really bothers me. He did not fall into the situation he is in now by chance or because some girl attracted him and ensnared him. It’s sort of situation where he set out to do things in the right way but once he got into the situation, he became like every other man in mid-life crisis. It got the better of him.

        • Butterball

          Counseling is not an option because we don’t live somewhere that such services exist. And I don’t believe in counseling anyway. I think it creates more problems than it solves. A couple needs to deal with their issues on their own. It’s what has gotten us this far in our life together and it is what will keep us together in the long run if we can do it.

    • Butterball

      As I mentioned above my situation is quite different but divorce was always an option. I chose not to divorce though because the post D-Day (although in our case the D-day was totally atypical) discussion brought us closer and led to more understanding between us than ever before. It was something that should have torn us apart but instead it brought us closer so I chose to accept the situation. He has since grown a bit distant but that is because he is clearly consumed with the depression and guilt and fantasy of a man in a mid-life crisis but knowing the fundamentals are there helps me to have great confidence for a better life together in the long run, even if not in the immediate future.

      • Sara

        Butterball, I think your situation sounds alot like mine. My husband knows what he is doing is hurting me but he cant stop. I also think he is in a mid life crisis but cant help himself. Everyday I know he is talking and texting her and it is difficult to live with. We also dont want to live apart or divorce. Our relationship is better since D day and we do communicate better, so I feel maybe there is hope for a better marriage in the future on some days, on other days I want to leave. I have found I need to remember it is not my fault, he is the one choosing this behavior. I try to live as best as I can and make moves to move on with my life and I make sure he sees that. I figure if our marriage ends and he chooses her at least I have hope for the future, but this is a long road for me, the affair is 19 months along and there are no signs he wants to stop. He knows he has made a mistake but cant or wont stop. I think you have to do what is best for you and stick with it.

      • Shifting Impressions

        Butterball
        My curiosity has the best of me……..what would make this situation different? Without that bit of info, what advice could any of us give you?

        Could you imagine if the roles were reversed and you were asking your husband to be patient while you pursued your affair??? I don’t think I would have any respect for someone that would let me treat them that way. Just sayin……

        • Butterball

          Unfortunately I don’t want to say as I have read many of the blog posts here and I know from what has been said in one post about people in similar situations to mine by Sarah P. that I would be met with judgment not understanding. I’ll say this I’ve been looking for a long time for information about how to handle the situation I am in and there basically is virtually nothing online. I can get bits and pieces from various similar situations but none are the same as mine. I do find this site very helpful and positive but the end game for me is likely very different from the end game for all of you, but the process is very much the same. So that is the takeaway I want to get from this site.

        • Looking forward

          Thank you for asking the same question I had. I was really enjoying sharing and hearing from you and Hopeful. I happened to check back just now to see if anything had changed.

    • Shifting Impressions

      Doug
      So many of the comments from this post have disappeared…….???? Just wondering, as I found the conversation to be particularly meaningful.

      • Doug

        Hey SI, Yes they did indeed disappear. But our hope is that we can get them back. We were having some troubles with the site going down way too often, so we upgraded to a dedicated server. During the process of migrating to that new server, the comments that were posted do not appear as they occurred after the files had been migrated. However, the techies at our hosting provider say that once we’re sure everything has propagated, they will try to update those comments so that they do appear. Sorry for the inconvenience. (Have I mentioned lately how much I like tech stuff?)

    • James

      First I love my wife of 22 years. My question is how to you deal with the pain? I know time heals everything but I don’t know if she is still in love with me our the thought of us as a family. Sometimes it’s like she’s living two seperated lives on e with the family and the other with her friends. How does everyone work at getting back together? She doesn’t want to go to marriage counseling anymore but she’s still in therapy for her own issues, just need some advice.

      • TheFirstWife

        James. First I am sorry for your pain and situation. It stinks to be in this “club”

        I am sorry your wife has put you in this position. Please don’t take it the wrong way that your wife refuses marriage counseling. My husband refused for the better part of two years as well.

        It wasn’t until a family situation opened his eyes that he saw himself for what he really was. Just like his family. Self centered at times and all about him. I am not talking petty stuff like I want steak for dinner but MAJOR stuff like being in an EA for 4 years despite my asking him to stop.

        He was not in love with this girl but she was in love with him. And I told him she was from the first moment I met her.

        But he refused to set boundaries etc.

        He refused to even discuss it. I would ask him what was going on and he would refuse to answer me. Gaslight me the whole time until I got so angry it was either her or me. 4 years later!

        In any event his last affair almost caused our divorce. His midlife crisis.

        He refused any therapy until this year. That is almost 3 years from DDay

        Better late than never but I am different now. So while I am married I know I have options and I can exercise them at any time. I liove my H and we have been together for more than 30 years but I cannot tolerate any more disrespect from him and he knows it.

        When he refused therapy (even alone for himself) I went. My therapist was amazing and kept my sanity throughout the years of hell my H out me through.

        Not just the affair but two years of lying about all aspects of it. We fought for 7 months over whether he loved her. He was leaving me (on numerous occasions) for her and he says he did not love her. I saw it in emails and I would not/could not let it go. His lying about it all made me want to fivorce him!!

        Sorry this is so long but I learned I cannot control him but I can control how I react to him. At times I will just walk away from a potential argument. Other times I state my case and will not back down.

        I am not looking for anything more than him acknowledging I have a valid point. We just had a battle over his disrespect when I asked him not to do something and he did it anyway. Days later after I calmed down and was rational about it I asked him why he did it after I asked him not to. He acted like one if my kids with a bunch of stupid excuses.

        Two hours later he finally acknowledged he should have respected my small request.

        That is an accomplishment – years prior I would not have even gotten that.

        Please hang in but don’t wait forever. Yoyr wife should be talking to you about her issues or problems. Otherwise it is a one sided marriage.

        Please see someone in your own – who can give you perspectives. If it wasn’t for my therapist I would not still be married.

        And my H knows that too. His affair almost caused our divorce for a number of reasons.

    • Catherine

      I don’t understand the groveling and concessions that so many betrayed spouses do. I knew from the moment he told me he had cheated on me and lied to me, for 25 years that I didn’t want to spend any more of my life with him. I had wasted enough of my life with someone who had no respect for either me or marriage, yet felt he was entitled to the perks that come with marriage. Fortunately, I didn’t listen to him when he tried to convince me 15 years ago that I didn’t need to work, because he made enough money for us to live comfortably. I can only imagine how much harder this would have been for me to recover from, if I had listened to him and became totally dependent on him financially.

      • Butterball

        “I had wasted enough of my life with someone who had no respect for either me or marriage, yet felt he was entitled to the perks that come with marriage”

        That’s why you gave up so easily. You weren’t happy BEFORE the moment you knew he cheated. He just gave you the kick in the ass to admit it to yourself. Some of us truly are happy, truly love our husbands, and know they respect us.

        • Catherine

          I did not give up easily, he knew the boundaries before I married him and agreed to them. He’s supposedly an adult and is expected to act as such. He had no integrity or morals (doing what’s right) for a quarter of a century, that tells me he had no intentions of being a good husband or being honest about himself and what he is. This also tells me that he is not the kind of person who belongs in a marriage. Facing these facts was the reason for my decision and the realization that all I had put into the marriage was wasted, thus the wasted years of my life.

      • TheFirstWife

        I understand your position. Given the right circumstances I woukd have left a cheating spouse as well.

        I wouldn’t necessarily say that there is groveling in my situation. I can see the good and my husband, despite his bad choices in the past.

        For the past two years I have been the spouse who has been contemplating leaving him. I finally got fed up with the disrespect, lying, self-centered choices and behavior he has exhibited over the years.

        He now knows he has run out of options. I no longer have patience and acceptance for lying and cheating. However my H finally sees that I have changed so therefor he has had to change.

        He now sees a counselor which has opened his eyes. He now sees how much he really wants to be married to me. He has made our marriage and me a priority in his life. Having almost lost that he sees what a mistake he almost made.

        My husband never treated me poorly. I think his midlife crisis had a huge role in his last affair. I am not excusing him but putting things in perspective.

        My husband was always good to me and his been a great father. One of the things that my therapist told me is that if you decide to divorce, you want to have that be a successful transition.

        He told me that one of the ways to assure success was that you could look back on your marriage and feel you did everything possible to try to work out your issues.

        And that is what I have done. I also know that I now have options and if I I am unhappy, I can leave him. With no regrets.

        • Catherine

          From what I’ve seen here, the main reason most of the women don’t leave their husbands who continually lie and cheat, time after time, D-Day after D-Day, is that they have no alternative. Their choices are few due to trusting in their spouse for so long and giving up their independence, they have no “way out” that they can live above the poverty level. I fortunately did not listen to my husband and therefore am not in the same position as many on this site. I feel for each and every one, I can only imagine what it would have felt like if I was in that position when he decided to come clean.

          • Butterball

            Well, I would not assume that. I am in the top 1% where we live on my own earnings and I don’t even work full time. My husband can earn in the top 1% as well here but nowhere near what I earn, so it’s not financial reasons that keep me with my husband. I love him and he was my best friend for many years. He’s distant now, but I know there is a good chance our relationship can be better than before if I’m patient and wait it out. Why would I throw away a good thing for an uncertain future?

    • theresa

      If I may, another point
      Was your decision to stay forever or did you have an eye on a door at the end of a long hall?

      I’ve lost forever, don’t think I can find it again.

      • TheFirstWife

        I no longer have forever like I once did. I am here and happy and choose to remain married.

        If it no longer works for me then I have options. And he knows it.

    • Tanya

      I stayed because the affair was emotional only. We had been together ten years. At the time my husband was an emotional wreck who had just had a major career disappointment followed quickly by the death of a pet we had had for 15 years. He also had major debt issues that were becoming crushing. A friend at work who spent a lot of time with him started ‘helping’ him. He started telling her how i didn’t support him and she manipulated the situation. I threw him out and she further ‘helped’ him by lending him money to move out. He saw the light when I went to see a divorce lawyer and started making arrangements to buy his share of the house. Moving out also made him see how she was only plugging a hole in his existence because he missed me. When he came back he still responded to her messages for a while which made it impossible to repair the relationship. His excuse which I didn’t hear until months later was that he felt bad for misleading her. I went off on a trip with a friend and when I came back that gut feeling was gone. I knew he had finally ended it. He did not admit that he had been in touch with her until then for months, but finally came clean. He is a decent person and I knew his behaviour was against his own values. I never doubted that he loved me. He is still so ashamed of his behaviour. We don’t have any children and it is unlikely I will ever be able to, yet he still came back.

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