Why can’t I get divorced? (Tini Owens and Hugh Owens 2017)

Mrs Owens (aged 66) is not allowed to divorce her husband, Hugh (aged 78), despite her feelings that the marriage of 39 years is over. Judge Tolson has said that her allegations were “of the kind to be expected in marriage” and refused to grant the divorce petition.  Mrs Owens said that her husband was insensitive, that he did not trust her and that she felt unloved.

Surely the test is a subjective one?   Just because Judge Tolson appears to be willing to accept certain behaviours in a marriage, does that mean that we all have to do so?

Some of us may find our partners ignoring us to be acceptable, for us to be banished from the bedroom absolutely fine and a refusal to share holidays together a blessing. 

That would, however, make for a funny old world as, surely, marriage is a partnership.  The wedding vows are “for better, for worse; for richer, for poorer; in sickness and in health, ‘til death do us part.”  That is all well and good, but do the vows really mean that one partner can belittle the other or make them feel unloved?

If that were the case, taken to the extreme, would Judge Tolson allow domestic violence to continue unchallenged within a marriage? To the person wishing to divorce, their partner’s behaviour is intolerable.  The unwanted behaviour need not be physical to the aggrieved person, but the mental challenge can be just as destructive.

The Court of Appeal is currently deciding on the outcome for Mrs Owens.  I wait with bated breath…

 Susan Lynch - 21 February 2017