…the parched land shall become a pool, and the thirsty lands springs of water…(Isaiah 35:7)

Understanding, Helping and Loving a Pornography Addict

By Rex Goode


As I learned these concepts, they changed my life and my marriage for the better. I felt very strongly that I should write down what I learned so I could share them with others who are struggling with the same pain. I know that in some serious situations, this essay will not help, but for those women who have issues similar to mine, I hope and pray that this information may be helpful.

My heart and soul aches for you dear women who are struggling to live with a pornography addict. Three concepts have helped me to come to terms with this addiction and to ultimately heal my marriage. COMPARISON, SUPPORT and DISASSOCIATION. I know that for you, right now, it feels so dark and hopeless. I am so sad for you. I am so sad for your husband. Many of us lament to ourselves: “Where’s my house with the white picket fence, the honorable priesthood holder and the kids singing Primary songs in the car?. And on Sunday, you smile…and breathe…and pretend your rib cage doesn’t hurt right in the middle…hope that no one at church can tell that you chose a pervert for an eternal companion. La, la, la. Why doesn’t the madness just stop? All he has to do is… NOT! I’m not asking him to DO something difficult, I’m asking him to NOT do something! Just DON’T look at the magazine, just DON’T click on that site. Shouldn’t that be easy?” Well, I’ve discovered that that is about as easy as him asking me to never eat junk food again for the rest of my life.


One way to help you not take it personally is to compare it to your own bad habits or addiction(s). I am not trying to trivialize the seriousness of a pornography addiction by using this comparison, it is purely for gaining this desperately needed perspective. to help you to see your husband without disgust, and view him as someone who is struggling and needs support.

Please note that I am not suggesting that we sit around and just accept abuse from our husbands. Every situation is different and requires proper consideration. Some wives may not be able to stay and help because it is too painful. We need to be careful to have appropriate boundaries when choosing to stay and help someone through an addiction. You are not expected to stay and be a victim of intolerable verbal, mental or physical abuse. If you are unsure if it is safe to stay and help your husband, pray about it and/or talk to a councilor trained in sex addictions. Let him/her know you want to stay and help your husband and that you want to love him through this. The councilor can help you offer the required love and support without getting walked on. Your husband has to at least be trying, at least taking steps of some sort in attempt to become sober. No one expects you to stay if he’s making absolutely no effort. In part of my boundaries, I would state, “I will stay with an addict in recovery, not an addict that isn’t trying.”

If we learn through counseling and/or prayer that it is safe to stay and help, the first step is to get the beam out of our own eye before we attempt to remove the mote (or maybe large flag pole!) from our husband’s eye. And just as we’d expect support and love from them to help us to stop our bad habits (or addictions), we should offer them the same.

I don’t know if you’re a binge eater, but comparing it to this addiction really helped me. If you are not a junkfood-aholic, it may be difficult to grasp this concept, but try and put yourself in my shoes, or use a weakness of your own to help you compare, such as over-spending, gambling, screaming at the children, gossiping, etc. In my experience, there are a surprisingly large number of women who are junkfood-aholics, who are married to pornography addicts. Sometimes it’s just coincidence and sometimes these addictions are related. That could be a whole essay on its own and I am not qualified to expand on that issue!

Using the junkfood comparison (because it’s the one I have experience with), ask yourself: Could you commit to never eating junk food for the rest of your life right now? I know I couldn’t. Could I commit to one year of no junk food? How about one month? One week, one day? Which one seems possible to you? It is the same for him. We expect our husbands to say: “Okay, I’ll quit for the rest of my life honey, because I love you.” What if our husbands asked us to say: “Okay, I’ll never eat junk food again honey, because I love you and you’ve asked me not to.” For some of us, that would be an impossible goal. We would have to start with smaller goals and work up to a year, maybe go a month at a time, or a week or even a day at a time.

I have a theory. If chocolate is supposed to give you the same hormone releases as sex or feeling loved, then when I’m eating chocolate, it’s basically a form of masturbation. I know that’s a little extreme, but think about it. It’s a quick fix, I don’t have to bother anyone, I eat it in secret often, it’s a stress reliever, I feel guilty afterwards, I mean come on. That’s a little too similar don’t you think?

I too, am an addict. Drawing exact parallel comparisons between his addiction and mine has really given me a new perspective.

Let’s pretend that sugary treats in general, represent healthy, appropriate sex with your spouse and that chocolate is pornography. If he was pressuring me to give up chocolate forever – that would be HUGE for me! He says: “You can have regular sweet things, just not chocolate. Come on, it’s not that difficult! Just DON’T eat it. Just DON’T pick it up. Don’t buy it when you go through the check out at the store. Why can’t you just stop eating chocolate?” Sound familiar?

And really, I think it’s that we are not supposed to eat refined sugar at all, it’s terrible for our bodies, and as the prophet has said about pornography, continuing to over indulge in white sugar will destroy us! Diabetes, depression, suppression of the immune system…blah, blah, blah. So the comparison should REALLY be that the sweetness of simple fruits represents healthy, appropriate sex with our spouses, and that anything with refined white sugar is pornography. Try and wrap your mind around that one! I certainly can’t! And this is what I was asking my husband to do. “Isn’t the sweetness of an orange or an apple good enough for you? Why do you have to eat refined sugars all the time? You know, if you hadn’t spoiled your taste buds and eaten all those sugary foods in the first place, you wouldn’t know what you were missing and you would enjoy the sweetness of simple fruits.”

It’s socially acceptable to eat “sinful” foods. Magazine covers are plastered with great “get thin quick” diets, and on the very same cover, “wonderful chocolate delights for the holidays” – give me a break! It’s socially acceptable for men to be lustful. Even bill boards or commercials for things like soap, e.g. LEVER 2000, are basically soft porn. Sexual things are in their faces constantly and we expect them to think pure thoughts and resist always. The chocolate bar display is always there at the check out, right in my face, but too bad, I’m not allowed to have any, even though it’s totally acceptable and the cashier won’t even bat an eye when I put it on the counter and buy it.

I don’t enjoy apples anymore, I want KitKats and hot fudge sundaes and brownies and Danishes. What about pornography addicts? Healthy, natural sex with their wives is passed over for pornography and masturbation. They need harder and harder core material to be “satisfied”, which never actually happens. You’re never satisfied either! Just one more chocolate toffee or one more brownie and I’ll be done. Ha! You know the deal. How many times have you passed over the veggie platter to get to the nanimo squares? Or maybe you DO have some fruit or veggies but you’re certainly going to have a rich sugary dessert as well! Many husbands do enjoy intimacy with their wives but pornography is still a large part of their lives.


If our husbands were demanding that we stop indulging in sugary foods right now and forever, what would be our response? Just think, we are demanding of our husbands instant and complete abstinence from pornography, with no room for a recovery or withdrawal program. We’re crying about it, shaming them, punishing them, pleading, begging, giving the cold shoulder, making ultimatums, not offering love, only bitterness. What if our husbands were doing this to us about eating junk food? How could we progress at ridding ourselves of overeating if our husbands were shaming us, pointing out how fat we were or how disgusted they were with our lack of self control? What if they said to us: “You either stop eating junk food or we’re getting a divorce!” We would feel so hurt and unloved.

I know that if my husband did that to me, I’d probably get defensive and angry and blame the fact that I’m stressed and need “some sort of happiness in my life” and then I’d probably go eat another chocolate bar just to spite him, and because if he’s angry with me anyway, then what’s the difference?! And now we’ve just had a fight and I’m upset and crying so I need an escape…chocolate, wonderful chocolate…it always loves me, doesn’t yell at me, always makes me feel better, even if only for a moment… (I know, that’s extreme, but I have felt that way, even if I haven’t said those words!) I know that process of thinking used to occur in my husband when we would fight about pornography.

If our husbands did say those horrible things to us about our food addiction, it would really send us the message that we are not important to them, that they obviously don’t want to help us, that they don’t love us “through good times and bad”, they are just fair weather friends, not companions or help meets or best friends. I think how my husband does support me and love me even though I have this addiction and am grateful he doesn’t constantly shame me.

The prophet has said, “Don’t even look once at pornography. If you never look you’ll never get hooked.” Well, if I’d never had my first hot fudge sundae, it would be a lot easier to resist it and I’d still be enjoying the sweetness of an apple. If I even stop and think about what it’s like to eat a CARAMILK bar or a Crispy Crunch, I get the urge to go eat one. I have to keep my thoughts “pure” and not “fantasize” about what it’s like to experience chocolate, otherwise it’s a lot more difficult to resist. Hmmm…what do you know, another similarity.

For food addicts, does the bingeing behavior have anything to do with our husband’s lack of great pecks? Of course not! It has nothing to do with how they look, it’s just our stress reliever of choice, our comfort food. We may think we deserve it once in a while, but it doesn’t change the fact that it’s unhealthy and terrible for our poor bodies. And is it ever just once in a while? No! Once I’ve started, I almost can’t stop, (just like pornography) I usually eat whatever it is until it’s gone – even when I’ve promised myself I’ll only have a couple of bites. Is this the way the Lord wants us to treat the temples he gave us to house our spirits? I think not. Why do you think cancer is on the rise, in fact doubling and tripling in occurrence? We are feeding our bodies garbage! It’s a testament to the design of our incredible bodies that they actually continue to function and last as long as they do!!

Knowing all this, I’ll still binge throughout the whole Christmas season, I know I will. How can that be? Knowing it will hurt me, I do it anyway. And what do you know, that’s the very same paradox I was just complaining about with my husband’s addiction. He knows I want him to stop, he knows he should stop, he knows it hurts me and ultimately hurts him. Yet when he’s weak, he’ll look anyway, risking his job, his family and his eternal salvation. This paradox in behavior truly defines the term “addiction.”


Another way we can learn to not take it personally, is by disassociation. It is very difficult for many women to disassociate or unwind their insecurities from their husband’s addiction.

I had to learn, that whether he wanted to look at pornography or not, it had nothing to do with how I looked. My husband explained to me that it wouldn’t matter if he was married to a supermodel, he’d still be addicted to looking at pornography. It has nothing to do with you. You have to think of it like a smoking habit or an alcohol addiction because that’s how unrelated it is for him.

Some husbands try to use the excuse that their wives don’t participate in sex often enough, or are really cruel and blame the wives for how their bodies look, to justify their pornography use. Unfortunately, those words just cause pain, and are subconsciously, or sometimes consciously, designed to distract the wives (and often themselves) from the real reasons for their addiction.

Your husband turns to pornography because he is stressed or upset and he wants his “comfort food”, or an outlet or a stress reliever, “a cigarette” so to speak. If your husband has a difficult day at the office, then has the desire to look at pornography, it’s not because your body is inadequate. It’s just because it’s his drug of choice for stress relief, or a quick, momentary escape from responsibility. If he was a runner, he’d go for a run. If he was a cocaine addict, he’d go sniff some coke. If he was an adrenaline junky, he’d go skydiving or race his car. If he was an alcoholic, he’d go have a drink. Sadly, the pornography drug of choice, as opposed to other addictions, makes us feel like it’s our fault because our bodies don’t look like the ones in the pictures. It is necessary but difficult to separate your feelings from this misconception. Disassociation is an attitude that took me about 11 years to adopt. Perhaps this bazaar comparison will help with this concept: if your husband was addicted to race car driving and spent hours on the race track, away from the family, would you blame yourself for not looking like a race car?

Most people try to separate a pornography addiction from other addictions because it seems so much “dirtier” or so immoral or perverted compared to say, smoking or alcoholism. In actuality, the Lord can look on NO sin with any degree of allowance. Is the atonement only for those with acceptable sins? Of course not! It’s for each and every one of our sins (excluding denying the Holy Ghost) including adultery and/or looking at pornography.

In Mark Kastleman’s book, The Drug of the New Millennium – Pornography, he states that pornography is currently the most addictive substance known to man. It’s cheap, it’s often free, it can be easily obtained anonymously, secretly, it’s not illegal, it has no side effects that are visible (like hang-overs, or being at a business meeting with dilated pupils, or needle tracks on the arms, etc.) and coupled with masturbation, creates one of the most incredible “highs” a body can achieve. Kastleman goes on to state that it is THE MOST difficult addiction to recover from, however, not impossible.

It is important that your husband tells you when each incident occurs, that he is completely honest with you, that he communicates everything, successes and failures. But please believe me, the sooner you can stop associating the addiction with who you are, the easier it will be for you, and the sooner your husband will see the addiction for what it is, and do what it takes to rid himself of it. The process of recovery for your husband will be just as it is outlined in the 12-step Heart-to-Heart program or the Setting Captives Free program, but the recovery process for you will be much more difficult to endure if you continue to take it personally.

Please take careful note of this: When you allow yourself to be personally attacked by this addiction, your encounters with your husband will always be bitter. Your husband will then take to defending himself from your arguments instead of looking inward and finding out why he should stop for his own reasons. Right now, if his only reason for trying to stop is because you are upset with him, it will never be enough of a reason to stop him when the temptation to look at pornography is strong, strange as that may seem.

Pray for your husband to have a change of heart and for you to find some peace of mind so that you and the Lord can decide what would be best for you both. Leaving your husband isn’t always the answer, and staying isn’t always the answer either.

Some women try to find solutions that they think would make them happier, and be able to deal with this addiction. They are tempted to think things like: if at least we could move into a real house, things would be better. I used to think that, and then we got the opportunity to move into a house. Believe me; it doesn’t make it any better. It’s just a new place that quickly loses its novelty and contains the same suspicious, miserable wife as the old place, only now she has more rooms to clean! You have to disassociate sooner or later, hopefully sooner so you will suffer less.

When I finally had a grip on not taking it personally, I had to think about my husband, and decide if I still wanted to be best friends with him. I did. I had that little glimmer of hope that he would rediscover who he was and make the change. I loved everything else about him, except that! As I prayed for help, the only answer that came to me was that I had to love him through this. I didn’t agree for months. I was sure that crying, shaming, being disapproving and denying sex would be much more effective.

I knew that pouring out love would be the way that Jesus would do it, but that meant I would have to not explode in anger when he would have an episode. “I can’t do that!” I worried, “He’d probably just do it more!” I decided to try it anyway since nothing else was working, and I prayed desperately for strength to be understanding during relapse moments.

Your husband must be completely honest with you about his day. Do you think he would tell you the truth if he knew you weren’t going to scream and yell at him? Or would he still hide it from you? Some husbands have difficulty with this first and most important step to recovery. You cannot be expected to stay and support him if he continues to lie to you. Just telling the truth while continuing to mess up, may not seem like he’s making enough of an effort, however, honesty is a huge step. As much as we want to demand more than just honesty, TELLING THE TRUTH IS FAR MORE IMPORTANT THAN INSTANT CORRECTION OF BEHAVIOR. Bringing the episodes out into the open allows the addict to examine his behavior. Hiding the sin and trying to deal with it on his own makes it very easy to continue. It was my husband’s honesty that kept me from leaving him, even though the recovery process took a long time. When my husband was telling the truth, good or bad, I knew he was at least making an effort to change, and it allowed me to have compassion for him instead of anger.

Remember that he is in a fragile and vulnerable position when he’s confessing to you. As he tells you, you can’t turn away, give the cold shoulder or speak negatively to him. Think back to when you had to confess to your parents or to the Bishop. You could walk away with much more conviction to choose the right if your encounter was positive and supportive than if you were sprayed with anger or harsh words. Pray quickly before opening your mouth to speak to your husband. Pray for strength to be compassionate, and to be open to inspiration as to what he needs to hear right then.

Sometimes all I could say was, “Sorry it happened, how did you get tripped up this time? I love you, thanks for telling the truth.” Give him a hug if you can. These men are boys in big bodies, they miss the unconditional love of their parents and their Heavenly Parents. Now “cleaving only unto you” it’s your job to offer the same security to him. Often a pornography addiction is complicated by a low self-esteem due to any number of problems, such as the lack of a respectable career, or self-loathing, etc. It will not improve if you continue to bash him down.

Start with small goals like: Please tell me the truth, or please don’t bring pornography into the house. You, your husband and your children if you have them, should be able to have your home be free of the negative spirit that pornography viewing brings. If he will commit to that, at least it’s one small step in the right direction. Bigger steps can be added as time goes on if he is having positive interactions with you.

If your husband is shown love regardless of bad behavior, low and behold…a strange thing happens. He suddenly has nothing from which to defend himself. You’re not getting angry so he doesn’t have to retaliate. Always before, he was just thrashing out. He is now compelled to look inward. Be prepared to endure relapses, as they will most likely occur, it is a common part of recovery. But as you continue to love him and build him up, he will do more personal reflecting and begin to find his own reasons for overcoming this addiction, something he never did before because he was always on defense.

It’s difficult… and horrible… and it’s yucky… and sometimes I would cry, but it is an important role that I have accepted. A councilor once told us that an addiction is trying to fill a void in your life. It turns out that the void includes spirituality, not just the long-lost hobby or childhood dream. He desperately needs spirituality, but don’t forget your own. Set an example, read scriptures and pray openly, but don’t demand that he join you. Go to the temple alone if you can muster up the courage. Somewhere in there, your husband has a thread of a testimony. Pray to find ways to help him pull his good spirit to the forefront. Help him with love, caring and understanding. Don’t recoil in disgust, that just adds to his poor self-esteem. If he feels you are trying to be his best friend, things will change, I know because I saw it happen with my own eyes.

Ultimately of course, it’s up to your husband if he wants to pick up the gloves and fight against the most powerful addiction known to man. Waiting and wondering if he’s ever going to get up and fight is so completely frustrating, I know. But the Lord’s plan still includes your husband working towards an eternal marriage. If he pulls up his socks and plans to reach for that goal, he will need a wife. Are you that woman? You don’t have to stay, you obviously deserve to be treated better than this. However, it will be very difficult for your husband to make the change without support. Left alone, he may sink even further. He needs a helper, a best friend. Are you willing to make the sacrifice and be that woman? It’s entirely your decision. I KNOW that the Lord sees both sides. There are good reasons to leave and there are good reasons to stay, you must decide, let the Lord help you. The change in your husband and yourself CAN happen with the Lord’s help. I have witnessed a complete change of heart, and I find peace and patience knowing that the Lord wants us to succeed and that He is helping us.

No one said it was fair, and it certainly isn’t. It isn’t fair that other women have husbands who honor their priesthood and are very strong members of the church and you are stuck struggling with this. Try not to let your pride get in the way. Staying with your husband and loving him through this is a difficult job, BUT IT HAS TO BE SOMEONE’S JOB. The Lord needs someone to help your husband. If you love your husband, if you are his best friend, it can be your job. It isn’t fair that Jesus suffered for the awful sins I have committed, but He did it anyway because He loves me.

Unfortunately, as you know, it’s ALL up to your husband to make the change. This essay can only help women who have husbands willing to make some sort of effort. Some husbands never desire to make the change. They are the ones the Lord cries for as they are lost to their own selfish desires. Divorcing such men is still a very private decision to be made with the Lord’s help. I cannot comment on this issue.

I was fortunate enough to have a husband who I knew had a testimony when I married him, even though through the years, it had been bashed down with this addiction. Some men can quit “cold-turkey”, for others, that is impossible. After many years of struggling on his own, my husband began a recovery program; he prayed often and worked hard. We needed to start somewhere, so we started small and worked up to larger commitments. We began with the initial commitment not to lie, then added not bringing it into the home, then required no masturbation when he looked at pornography, then added doing the recovery program lesson every day, and so on. Putting these restrictions on while continuing to let your husband view pornography may be the most difficult thing you’ve ever done. But I want you to think about this: if you know he’s working on a recovery program, then you know he’s not quitting cold-turkey. If he’s not quitting cold-turkey, then you are prepared for the fact that there will be relapses. During relapses, he will be looking at pornography anyway. So work on these relapses with small commitments that make the experience not quite so easy to accomplish (don’t bring it into the home) or quite so enjoyable (no masturbation). I viewed masturbation as my husband basically having sex without me, and found it almost more upsetting than the pornography. So when I asked him to commit to no masturbation and he agreed, I felt it was a very positive step forward. It restored some of my respect for him; I knew he was really making an effort to quit. Denying or offering sex…well…it’s up to you. Sometimes a period of abstinence is helpful, sometimes it’s harmful. Pray about it. Surprisingly, as my husband made even these smaller commitments, intimacy became much easier for me, which in turn helped to heal that part of our relationship, giving him even more belief in himself.

Using smaller goals makes quitting pornography a much more doable task. My husband explained to me that thinking ahead and saying to himself “never again” was so very discouraging. He was much more willing to commit to these smaller goals, and as he did, he slowly started to realize that it may actually be possible for him to do without pornography, something he thought would never be possible.

Remember: a relapse does not mean it’s all over. As long as my husband was willing to get back on the band wagon, we would keep trudging on. I also realized that fearing a relapse is the wrong thing to fear. Dishonesty is what we should be worried about. So I told my husband it was very important that he come and tell me as soon as he had a relapse, not to wait until I was prompted to ask him about it. It’s awful to get a prompting to ask about a relapse and have your husband sheepishly answer “yes” like a little child getting caught. Having him come to me like a grown man and taking responsibility for his wrong doings, helped maintain a certain amount of trust and reduced the fear a tremendously.

I also said I needed to be able to ask him, whenever I was feeling nervous about a relapse, and he was to not get angry with me for checking up on him. I just needed to know so I could relax about it. He agreed. I felt a great deal of the weight had been lifted with those steps in place. Much of the trust has been restored, but is still continuing to build. Again, the trust should not be about the relapse, it should be built on how you feel about his attitude. As you see him change, you also feel him change and that’s really what you have to go on. You know his mind is in the right place from how the Lord gives you peace, and as you see your husband continue to work to keep this out of his life. As hard as this is to accept, we have to realize that even if he has a relapse, he can still learn from it. We have to focus on progress, is this not as bad of a slip as last time? Are the spaces between the relapses getting longer? Did he come to me to confess this relapse? Compare the man you know now, to the man you were dealing with a year ago, two years ago, and so on. Beware of the slacker however. If he stops praying regularly, he puts himself in jeopardy. He must always stay close to the Lord to maintain his ability to resist.

When my husband was close to being totally done with pornography and just needed something to finally close the door on it completely, I was prompted to make a commitment that would parallel the commitment I was requiring of him. I committed to never eat chocolate bars again, ever in my life. I certainly don’t ever NEED chocolate bars in my life. But it was really hard for me to commit to that! It was equally difficult for my husband to give up pornography for the rest of his life. He appreciated my sacrifice and I gained understanding of the magnitude of his commitment.

When he made the commitment, he decided to put an ultimatum in place to help him keep his promise. He figured that in the end, there was already an ultimatum in place, he wouldn’t be able to be with his family forever if he didn’t gain control over this addiction. Why wait until judgment day to realize that it’s too late to improve? He needed an ultimatum that worked here and now to help him remember that eternal punishment is real. He used the only thing that would scare him enough to ward off any temptation, if he looked at pornography, he would have to leave the house and live somewhere else for 21 days. It works because he put the ultimatum in place himself, it wasn’t me being the policeman. He was scared to make the commitment, but once he did, he said he felt relieved! It doesn’t change the fact that women are still attractive to him, just as I know I would still enjoy a chocolate bar if I ate one, but he felt he no longer had to fight so hard against the temptation, he just knew he wouldn’t do it. The Lord has rewarded my husband and I with a change of heart, for taking the leap of faith and making those difficult commitments. Learning to gain control over our bodily appetites was a long process. It took about 14 years of our marriage, but I promise you, it is worth fighting for.

In the end, it doesn’t matter how perfectly you monitor his behavior or how physically strong you are, you can’t force your husband to change. The only thing you CAN do is offer support and love (with appropriate limits so you don’t get walked on) and cultivate an environment where his quiet, wounded spirit can begin to speak to his brain, and spark that long-lost desire for spiritual peace.

My prayers are with you all,



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3 Responses to “Understanding, Helping and Loving a Pornography Addict”

  1. Luke Gilkerson said:

    Thanks for your comments here. I hope many women are helped by your advice.

    I’ve recently read some more comments from women with husbands who watch porn. I wrote a blog about it at: http://www.covenanteyes.com/blog/2008/03/11/husbands-who-watch-porn-what-are-their-wives-saying/

    And a follow up post at: http://www.covenanteyes.com/blog/2008/04/08/husbands-who-watch-porn-part-2-wives-you-are-not-alone/

    I’d love to hear your comments!

    Luke Gilkerson
    Internet Community Manager
    Covenant Eyes

  2. Rex Goode said:

    Thanks for the comment Luke. I’ll check out your blog.

  3. SO's story - W/out Permission - Part 1 - TTF community forums said:

    […] I have edited most of those out (…) for this forum, but feel it is still intact. Hope it helps. Understanding, Helping and Loving a Pornography Addict May 20th, 2008 As I learned these concepts, they changed my life and my marriage for the better. I […]

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