Deformed nipples “doomed” a marriage and ended a husband’s affection for his wife in 1975, a court has heard.
But that did not stop the man fathering three children with the woman and the pair staying together for decades.
The excuse has been used by a man seeking to reduce the amount owed to his wife in divorce proceedings in the Federal Circuit Court.
The dispute – which was heard in Canberra last year – related to the length of the marriage and the contributions of each party during the relationship.
The court heard the couple were married in 1972.
The husband claimed it ended in 1999, but the wife argued the relationship concluded in 2011.
The court heard the couple had slept in the same bed until 2006, had attended family events, gone on holiday together, and went out to dinner with friends up until 2011.
Financially, he did her tax returns until 2002 and they used the same credit card until 2007.
A compensation claim he lodged in 2004 referred to his wife doing the gardening.
The wife told his mother in 2011 that they had separated.
But the man claimed he had only gone to functions with her as a friend and the marriage had actually ended in 1999.
He argued he had been unhappily married since 1975 after discovering his wife’s disfigurement, but stayed with her for the sake of his children.
The husband claimed he intended to leave her once the youngest child reached adulthood about 2000.
“The person I lived with before our marriage was a fake, an illusion,” he wrote in an affidavit to the court.
He said his wife avoided sex and employed a range of tactics that “reinforced her true prudish character … to avoid her disfigurement being discovered”.
“I did not see her breasts, until late 1974 [when] I discovered [she] had a physical disfigurement,” the affadavit said.
“If I had seen them before I would not have married her.
“Our marriage was doomed. If she had not been pregnant I would have sought a divorce in 1975.”
During the December hearing, the man admitted the couple “occasionally” had sex between 1975 and 1999.
“[But] I wouldn’t call it love making of any sort. As far as I was concerned, I wanted out in ’75.
“I stayed in that marriage beyond 1975 because I considered myself a responsible father who wanted to look after my children.”
Judge Warwick Neville, in a judgment published last week, found the relationship had ended in 2011 as stated by the wife, and ordered they divide their asset pool accordingly.
The judge said evidence clearly pointed to the relationship ending much later than claimed by the husband.
“Whatever the husband thought and held privately about the end of the relationship, nonetheless he did nothing either to inform or otherwise to represent to outside observers that he and the wife were anything other than a married couple,” the judge wrote.
“[The husband had] a very cavalier, if not a misleading and remarkably nonchalant, bordering on an immaturely irresponsible, approach … to the marital relationship with the wife which he cannot now claim to disavow, or to assert that it ended in 1999.
“There was a patent level of bitterness or resentfulness towards the wife that coloured his view of the world generally and his evidence in particular.”
The judge – who described the man as “self-absorbed” – said the husband had been “nit-picking” during proceedings and sought to plumb the depths of what constituted marriage.
Judge Neville said unhappiness did not equate to separation and disfigurement was not a legal ground for divorce.
He said the fact the man continued to have children with his wife, despite his claims the marriage had been doomed, clearly represented to the world that they remained a marital couple.
“In my view, among other evidence is the critical fact that the husband did not act on his intention to sever the marital relationship with the wife.
“He clearly did not do it in 1974 or 1975 when, on his evidence, he considered the marriage to be at an end.
“And as I have observed, he continued to have children with the woman he considered to have deceived him in relation to some form of breast disfigurement, which he said was a signal element of the marriage.”