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Wife Is Going To Church. Help!


ESP Extr Skeptical Person
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Okay, I am getting concerned. My wife has been a christian her whole life, but never took it seriously. Over the past couple of years she has begun associating with a bunch of church goers. I tried to ignore it, but it is clear that she wants me to join in the "fun". Amazingly she actually seems less happy about life now than before. I don't get it. She is obsessing with end times prophecy, going to church every Sunday, only communicating with other church people, sending our son to a private christian school, etc. I have seen her cry over a bible verse. Personally, I absolutely hate the whole phoney church scene, but I love her. What can I do to prevent this from affecting our marriage? My first thought is to come down hard with a dose of reality, but I don't want to hurt her. Also, there are a number of close family members that would absolute lose their minds (the part that they use) if I said anything offensive about the church, bible, and any of the other wacko stuff they believe. So basically, it seems like I have to convince her to give up all of her friends and her closest family AND the bible. I did get a little help from the church, because she has already seen some really un-christian-like behavior in the upper ranks of church. Again, how do I fix this situation before is really impacts our marriage negatively?

 

Suggestions welcome, please!

 

ESP

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Okay, I am getting concerned. My wife has been a christian her whole life, but never took it seriously. Over the past couple of years she has begun associating with a bunch of church goers. I tried to ignore it, but it is clear that she wants me to join in the "fun". Amazingly she actually seems less happy about life now than before. I don't get it. She is obsessing with end times prophecy, going to church every Sunday, only communicating with other church people, sending our son to a private christian school, etc. I have seen her cry over a bible verse. Personally, I absolutely hate the whole phoney church scene, but I love her. What can I do to prevent this from affecting our marriage? My first thought is to come down hard with a dose of reality, but I don't want to hurt her. Also, there are a number of close family members that would absolute lose their minds (the part that they use) if I said anything offensive about the church, bible, and any of the other wacko stuff they believe. So basically, it seems like I have to convince her to give up all of her friends and her closest family AND the bible. I did get a little help from the church, because she has already seen some really un-christian-like behavior in the upper ranks of church. Again, how do I fix this situation before is really impacts our marriage negatively?

 

Suggestions welcome, please!

 

ESP

Seeing someone you love going down a self-destructive path can be frustrating or even infuriating, but there aren't any easy solutions. It's like an addict, but worse. Sometimes they have to hit bottom before they reconsider. The "worse" part is that it is culturally acceptable (even the norm) to be goo-goo for Gah-God.

 

Here's some really bad advice. Get a copy of the Koran, go visit a mosque, get her to visit the mosque with you if you agree to visit her church, and insist she wear a headscarf at home.

 

Yeah, that sucks.

 

How about discussing the bible with her? Have your verses together, and ask her opinion. If she is totally brainwashed and says it's ok to slaughter children, then draw parallels to something she knows is wrong and see if she can tell the similarity.

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I was in a very similar situation before coming here. My wife was secretly going into all this shit. It was actually more complicated than this but the short version is I lost it (since several issues sort of came together at about the same time it seemed) and things, for me, have never been the same. That was in 2005.

 

Unless your wife is actually WILLING to listen to anything you have to say then you can talk until you you're blue in the face but it won't do any good. You can yell, scream, kick, cry...whatever. It won't do any good. As long as the church has her ear then nothing you say or do will matter. They can turn anything, good or bad, against you...if they choose to do so. I learned all this the hard way.

 

I'd almost recommend indifference. I don't know if it would work but I can say that everything I did was wrong and I TRIED most everything. The only thing I didn't try was indifference or simply nothing (it's not really in my character).

 

It really depends on your particular situation of course but it's worth considering. Basically just pretend as-if she's not doing any of this at all. Make plans like you normally would. Talk as you normally would. Be as you normally would be. If you want to do something on Sunday morning then make plans if this is something you normally would have done. Get it? But, as I've said, you'll need to do what is appropriate for your situation.

 

mwc

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It really depends on whether she'd be willing to hear your case, or if she clams up at the slightest criticism.

 

If you can get her to think critically about her views, then you can help her. Tell her wouldn't she like to know more about the bible? The best biblical scholar is Bart Ehrman who wrote Misquoting Jesus and Jesus, Interrupted. These books should wreck havoc on believing anything is literal in the bible, and at least move her to a moderate christian. If you can engage her natural curiosity maybe you can help her look for truth. If she won't respond to you then you may have to be harsher, or learn to live with it, or begin criticizing her lack of ability to handle criticism and work from there. If she's willing to consider critical viewpoints, (and if she's so right then her faith should prevail right?) let us know and we can point you to many resources. Try reading lots of deconversion stories on this site...you may find people with similar stories to hers which could help you understand the mindset she'll need to question it.

 

There some atheist groups in DC (I live in Fairfax), maybe look into Beltway Atheists if you want to get things off your chest to people who can sympathize, and rant because you can't do so at home.

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Okay, I am getting concerned. My wife has been a christian her whole life, but never took it seriously. Over the past couple of years she has begun associating with a bunch of church goers. I tried to ignore it, but it is clear that she wants me to join in the "fun". Amazingly she actually seems less happy about life now than before.

 

So, she calls it "fun" but is less happy? Have you asked her to examine this personal contradiction?

 

goo-goo for Gah-God.

 

LMAO!!! I'll have to steal that phrase sometime! ;)

 

If you regularly refrain from expressing your concerns, voicing your opinions, or taking stands on important issues, because you feel your (sympathetically, calmly and respectfully delivered) concerns, opinions and stands will hurt your wife's feelings or cause her relatives to make a fuss, then you're kind of disappearing in your own home. Are your thoughts and feelings really less important than everyone elses'? If you are not able to be yourself, your marriage is already affected.

 

This is good advice. Not only for ESP, but for me as well. I do have a tendency to remain silent in order to not rock the boat, but maybe I'm actually contributing to the problem by doing so.

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I don't know that I have any great advice to offer, since the only person I've dealt with who comes close to having religion ruin their life is my mother. With her, religion is off topic, and we almost pretend it doesn't exist when we talk now. It's like having an elephant in the room, but it's better for both of us. For her, she's succummed to the idea of everything in "this life" being bad in hopes of "heaven" in "the next life." Because of this, she basically sets herself up for failure in her real life, therefore confirming that "this" life sucks, and now we're back to hoping in a pleasant, care free afterlife. It's a vicious circle, and one that is promoted by the christian circles. It really is sad - I think I feel more sorry for her than anything, but she wouldn't see it that way. Anything I would say that may contradict her beliefs is attacking her one hope. Granted, she's been so wrapped up in all the brainwashing for over 20 years now, and she doesn't want out, so won't listen (or maybe deep down she does want out, but is too scared to admit it).

 

All I know is that attacking her faith does NOT open any doors.

 

However, since you also have a son involved, at least make sure he's not subjected to the constant brainwashing. Speaking from personal experience here, don't force your son into that. If, when he's old enough he chooses to attend church with his mother, that's his decision, but don't force it on him. By going to a christian school, and church, and his mother's beliefs, he'll see little else of the world even if you make the extra effort. Instead he'll be brainwashed into praying for your soul and believing he'll never see his dad in heaven (and what could be worse for a christian kid).

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However, since you also have a son involved, at least make sure he's not subjected to the constant brainwashing. Speaking from personal experience here, don't force your son into that. If, when he's old enough he chooses to attend church with his mother, that's his decision, but don't force it on him. By going to a christian school, and church, and his mother's beliefs, he'll see little else of the world even if you make the extra effort. Instead he'll be brainwashed into praying for your soul and believing he'll never see his dad in heaven (and what could be worse for a christian kid).

I just had this vision of bending over to say goodbye to your son as he goes off to Sunday school and whispering in his ear, "It's all lies. Don't believe anything they say."

 

I wouldn't do that, but - on the other hand, I wish someone had done that to me. Maybe.

 

But then, I didn't turn out so bad (so my wife tells me).

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It really is sad - I think I feel more sorry for her than anything, but she wouldn't see it that way. Anything I would say that may contradict her beliefs is attacking her one hope. Granted, she's been so wrapped up in all the brainwashing for over 20 years now, and she doesn't want out, so won't listen (or maybe deep down she does want out, but is too scared to admit it).

 

 

There's actually a study of psychology on this phenomenon called terror management theory that you might be interested in reading about: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Terror_Management_Theory
Humans are aware of the inevitability of their own death. Culture diminishes this psychological terror by providing meaning, organization and continuity to people's lives. Compliance with cultural values enhances one's feeling of security and self-esteem, provided that the individual is capable of living in accordance with whatever particular cultural standards apply to him or her. The belief in the rightness of the cultural values and standards creates the conviction necessary to live a reasonable and meaningful life. This cultural worldview provides a base of making sense of the world as stable and orderly, a place where one rests their hopes on symbolic immortality (e.g., fame, having children, legacies of wealth or fortune) or literal immortality (e.g., the promise of a life in an afterworld).

 

Our cultural world view is a "symbolic protector" between the reality of life and inevitability of death. Because of this men and women strive to have their cultural worldview confirmed by others, thereby receiving the community’s esteem. However, when one’s worldview is threatened by the world view of another, it often results in one’s self-respect being endangered as well. In such a situation people not only endeavour to deny or devalue the importance of others' world views, but try to controvert the ideas and opinions of others which may, as a consequence, escalate into a conflict (ie. religious holy wars). As a result, mortality salience increases stereotypic thinking and intergroup bias between groups.

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More bad advice: Dump her (hey, someone had to say it). It's completely within your rights according to the religion (I Corinthians 7:15). Hell, she should view it as persecution because of Jesus and she'll have her crown waiting for her in heaven and it will make her happy to know she suffered for her faith.

 

Okay, okay. So I'm being petty and demeaning... :shrug:

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Okay, I am getting concerned. My wife has been a christian her whole life, but never took it seriously. Over the past couple of years she has begun associating with a bunch of church goers. I tried to ignore it, but it is clear that she wants me to join in the "fun". Amazingly she actually seems less happy about life now than before. I don't get it. She is obsessing with end times prophecy, going to church every Sunday, only communicating with other church people, sending our son to a private christian school, etc. I have seen her cry over a bible verse. Personally, I absolutely hate the whole phoney church scene, but I love her. What can I do to prevent this from affecting our marriage? My first thought is to come down hard with a dose of reality, but I don't want to hurt her. Also, there are a number of close family members that would absolute lose their minds (the part that they use) if I said anything offensive about the church, bible, and any of the other wacko stuff they believe. So basically, it seems like I have to convince her to give up all of her friends and her closest family AND the bible. I did get a little help from the church, because she has already seen some really un-christian-like behavior in the upper ranks of church. Again, how do I fix this situation before is really impacts our marriage negatively?

 

Suggestions welcome, please!

 

ESP

 

Reading this brought back a lot of memories. 20 years ago my wife began her journey into fundamentalism. Her first 15 years were like you described.

Weeping during bible readings, cutting off relationships from "the world", emotionally separating herself from me, and so on.

 

You are in for a struggle for sure. These are the things I have learned:

 

1. Set boundaries from the beginning. This new found euphoria of your wife's ain't gonna go away anytime soon, if ever.

2. Be true to your own beliefs and be calm and gentle about stating them, but FIRM.

3. Don't debate theology, you will always be wrong in her eyes.

4. Understand that this is a mental illness to some degree, and be understanding as best you can.

 

I wish you luck, but you are in a world of shit right now. Hang tough.

 

Centauro

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Reading this brought back a lot of memories. 20 years ago my wife began her journey into fundamentalism. Her first 15 years were like you described.

Weeping during bible readings, cutting off relationships from "the world", emotionally separating herself from me, and so on.

 

Wait...what?

 

20 years? You've put yourself through that for 20 years?

 

Dude...you're a saint. You are still sane...right? RIGHT?

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Reading this brought back a lot of memories. 20 years ago my wife began her journey into fundamentalism. Her first 15 years were like you described.

Weeping during bible readings, cutting off relationships from "the world", emotionally separating herself from me, and so on.

 

Wait...what?

 

20 years? You've put yourself through that for 20 years?

 

Dude...you're a saint. You are still sane...right? RIGHT?

 

More sane now than ever, and that is no shit. I have learned a lot about fundamentalism, and more importantly about myself.

I feel good about who I am, and where I am going.

 

We have been married for 30 years, and the last 20 were a struggle, and it continues to be a struggle but times are much better than before.

I stuck it out mostly because of my kids. I refused to let them get pulled into her world. It was a fine line to walk, but in the end my kids are not fundies. In fact, the best thing that has come out of this is the kids know the gig regarding fundamentalism. They are smart and perceptive. They stay away and are not afraid to stand up to the bullshit. It upsets my wife, but I just smile and wink at the kids. They are well aware.

 

I am far from a saint, but when it came to my kids, I am like a pit bull. I don't fuck around. They are well adjusted adults now and I have a great time with them. My wife gets along well with them and loves them very much, but there is a spiritual distance she is aware of, and I am sure she blames me for them not becoming like her. I gladly take the credit.

 

Centauro

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I am far from a saint, but when it came to my kids, I am like a pit bull. I don't fuck around. They are well adjusted adults now and I have a great time with them. My wife gets along well with them and loves them very much, but there is a spiritual distance she is aware of, and I am sure she blames me for them not becoming like her. I gladly take the credit.

 

Okay, my apologies if this derails the thread at all, but I'm...well...amazed...shocked...flabbergasted at this.

 

You did this for the kids. Understandable. If I hadn't been so messed up I would have stayed for my kid's sake too.

 

Like...what about love? What about your actual relationship with your wife? There's got to be a huge cavern in your relationship, isn't there? I mean, it's none of my business, but isn't the relationship kind of mediocre? And if it's mediocre, why struggle?

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Wait...what?

 

20 years? You've put yourself through that for 20 years?

 

Dude...you're a saint. You are still sane...right? RIGHT?

 

 

Yea, I give Centauro 2 thumbs up considering the circumstances I've read on his post.

 

Mongo

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I am far from a saint, but when it came to my kids, I am like a pit bull. I don't fuck around. They are well adjusted adults now and I have a great time with them. My wife gets along well with them and loves them very much, but there is a spiritual distance she is aware of, and I am sure she blames me for them not becoming like her. I gladly take the credit.

 

Centauro

 

Yes! Exactly! This is what I call winning the war!!!

 

My wife tried to pull our kids into a more liberal church. She wasn't a church goer when we met and she knew I was apostate(I'm really starting to like that word).

 

I on the other hand, remind the kids that people believe different things and everybody thinks they are right.

 

I encourage the kids to think for themselves. I tell them it is OK to disagree with me, my wife, their teacher or friends. You get the picture.

 

My wife gave up going to church mostly because I wouldn't go with her, she felt alone with the kids and this was alot of time on the weekend we could spend together.

 

I got lucky... but if I might brag... I'm a I've been playing my cards well.

 

Its not over for me. I play low key and I don't rouse my wife's suspicions. When they get to a bit older age, we will have deeper conversations about social concepts and I'll be able to explain my personal history and why I believe what I do.

 

ESP,

 

How long has she been attending church? Were you an xtian "in your heart" once or just raised one?

 

In my opinion, any advice that hints at anger, argument or direct confrontation is dumb. Mutual respect must be the rule.

 

That said, you absolutely must insist that your wife show you the same respect that you accwantedord to her. Respect goes two ways.

 

That means that you are open and honest about your disbelief.

 

This mutual respect is important. Otherwise she will turn your life/home into a religious incubator that is designed to reinforce her beliefs. By setting boundaries, she will not be completely immersed in lies all the time.

 

Buy Bart's book Jesus Interrupted, read it and leave it lying around. She will read it when you are not looking and you will benefit too. When she asks why you bought the book tell her that her recent interest in church as caused you to want to learn more. This is honest isn't it?

 

Engage in a conversation with her and not debate. Don't debate or argue; it's worse than a waste of time. It is harmful and destructive. If you find that hard, welcome to the club!

 

Read Centauro's recent thread.

 

Mongo

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I am far from a saint, but when it came to my kids, I am like a pit bull. I don't fuck around. They are well adjusted adults now and I have a great time with them. My wife gets along well with them and loves them very much, but there is a spiritual distance she is aware of, and I am sure she blames me for them not becoming like her. I gladly take the credit.

 

Centauro

 

Yes! Exactly! This is what I call winning the war!!!

 

My wife tried to pull our kids into a more liberal church. She wasn't a church goer when we met and she knew I was apostate(I'm really starting to like that word).

 

I on the other hand, remind the kids that people believe different things and everybody thinks they are right.

 

I encourage the kids to think for themselves. I tell them it is OK to disagree with me, my wife, their teacher or friends. You get the picture.

 

My wife gave up going to church mostly because I wouldn't go with her, she felt alone with the kids and this was alot of time on the weekend we could spend together.

 

I got lucky... but if I might brag... I'm a I've been playing my cards well.

 

Its not over for me. I play low key and I don't rouse my wife's suspicions. When they get to a bit older age, we will have deeper conversations about social concepts and I'll be able to explain my personal history and why I believe what I do.

 

ESP,

 

How long has she been attending church? Were you an xtian "in your heart" once or just raised one?

 

In my opinion, any advice that hints at anger, argument or direct confrontation is dumb. Mutual respect must be the rule.

 

That said, you absolutely must insist that your wife show you the same respect that you accwantedord to her. Respect goes two ways.

 

That means that you are open and honest about your disbelief.

 

This mutual respect is important. Otherwise she will turn your life/home into a religious incubator that is designed to reinforce her beliefs. By setting boundaries, she will not be completely immersed in lies all the time.

 

Buy Bart's book Jesus Interrupted, read it and leave it lying around. She will read it when you are not looking and you will benefit too. When she asks why you bought the book tell her that her recent interest in church as caused you to want to learn more. This is honest isn't it?

 

Engage in a conversation with her and not debate. Don't debate or argue; it's worse than a waste of time. It is harmful and destructive. If you find that hard, welcome to the club!

 

Read Centauro's recent thread.

 

Mongo

 

Everyone,

 

I appreciate all the advice. It has really helped me in formulating a plan for dealing with the situation.

 

Mongo,

 

She started attending about 2 years ago and it ramped up quickly. I was raised an xtian, but even at an early age, maybe 9-10 years old, xtainity was not convincing. By the time I reached my late teens, it was clear that hardcore xtians were different. How could anyone actually believe the bible? Also, I am not a follower by nature, I prefer to lead people. I don't fit into the xtian way of life. I was never in any danger, on multiple levels, of accepting xtianity as fact.

 

The book idea sounds great. I will give it a try.

 

Regarding my son, I am making a lot of progress in private conversations. He is quickly understanding the absurdity of the xtian bible. I think he would be fine even without my guiding hand. He must have the skeptics DNA too! :-)

 

Thanks again,

 

ESP

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The book idea sounds great. I will give it a try.

 

I've got tons of books, and my wife won't read them. Never. I don't care how good they are, how controversial or non-controversial, etc. She just doesn't want to read it, hear it or discuss it.

 

So, we don't.

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I've got tons of books, and my wife won't read them. Never. I don't care how good they are, how controversial or non-controversial, etc. She just doesn't want to read it, hear it or discuss it.

 

So, we don't.

 

 

That sounds just like my husband. In fact sometimes if he happens to even touch one of my books, I swear, I can see the "Ewwwwwwwwww---cooties" look on his face. Don't want to mess with the delusional childish fantasy, do we? grrrrrrrrrrrrr.

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I am far from a saint, but when it came to my kids, I am like a pit bull. I don't fuck around. They are well adjusted adults now and I have a great time with them. My wife gets along well with them and loves them very much, but there is a spiritual distance she is aware of, and I am sure she blames me for them not becoming like her. I gladly take the credit.

 

Okay, my apologies if this derails the thread at all, but I'm...well...amazed...shocked...flabbergasted at this.

 

You did this for the kids. Understandable. If I hadn't been so messed up I would have stayed for my kid's sake too.

 

Like...what about love? What about your actual relationship with your wife? There's got to be a huge cavern in your relationship, isn't there? I mean, it's none of my business, but isn't the relationship kind of mediocre? And if it's mediocre, why struggle?

 

Love? This is one of the things my wife's journey into fundamentalism has taught me more than anything. There was a time when I thought there was no love in our relationship. I almost left. But I started to concentrate on the GOOD in our relationship. It wasn't all bad. My wife is a wizard at compartmentalization, and I learned how to compartmentalize myself. People change, and you have to be ready for that in a marriage. The key thing to help one survive that is to not lose your self identity in the process. Be true to yourself. If your spouse cannot deal with that, so be it. I have found that one of the best things you can do to combat fundamentalism within a family is to be kind, compassionate, fair and truthful. It drives them crazy, because they feel they have the "market" on those qualities.

As my marriage matured, I shifted from describing our relationship in terms of "we" to "me", but not in a selfish way. One can lose self identity in a marriage, and especially when fundamentalism is involved. I believe that down deep my wife respects my ability to look thru the bullshit, but she would never admit that. Maybe its a trait she longs for, but is unable to psychologically handle. Who knows? For whatever readson, we have survived. I do know that as I age, I will be even more true to myself and not compromise as much as I did in the past. There were many emotional and clinical reasons why I did in the past. She is over much of emotionsl issues that catapulted her into fundamentalism, and although it made me quite angry at times when I did back down over disagreements, I now do not do that. It is unhealthy, and I also know how to better approach our differences without feeling like I am always compromising. Does she get upset? Sure. But that's too bad. She gets over it.

 

 

 

 

As far as her reading books, or me leaving them around for her, in my case it would not work. I don't see a day where she will be ready for open dialog regarding her beliefs. That would be to anxiety producing. Right now she is reading Josh McDowell, Evidence That Demands a Verdict. It's laughble, 40 year old circular apologetics. She sees it as complex and unrefutable. I don't discuss it with her, but believe she is "boning up" for our bible study, where I am the lone heathen in a group of 14.

 

If you pick your battles wisely (easier said than done),stay true to yourself and be kind, a marriage can survive. But it is not easy. Good luck.

 

Centauro

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Those are excellent quotes Phanta, wish I had utilized that stuff years ago. Would have made things much easier. No matter, I am there now and happy.

 

Not sure if "wise" would come to mind if my friends had to find a word to describe me :grin: , but thanks for the kind words.

 

Centauro

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The key thing to help one survive that is to not lose your self identity in the process. Be true to yourself. If your spouse cannot deal with that, so be it.

 

Without self-love, you cannot love...that's what I've learned in the last couple of years. Seems to mirror what you're saying.

 

I never had that sense of self-identity at all so I definitely lost myself. When I did finally find out what was wrong and started to stand up for myself...well...the shit definitely hit the fan at that point.

 

I still can't figure out how you do it, but I understand what you're saying and I guess you make it work. Kudos and I hope ESP can do the same in his marriage.

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