According to one Taiwanese court, “A normal couple shouldn’t treat each other like that.”
Leaving someone on read is probably the most heinous thing you can do, so it’s gratifying to see a Taiwanese court recognize it for the abomination it is.
The BBC reports that a judge in Hsinchu, northern Taiwan, has granted a woman a divorce after she submitted evidence that her husband had been reading her text messages and ignoring them.
The wife, who has only been named by her surname Lin, had been using the text messaging service Line to contact her husband. Similar to WhatsApp or iMessage, Line has a “read” function that allows users to see when a recipient has opened their messages.
While ignoring someone’s messages may sound trivial, on one occasion Lin messaged her husband to tell him she’d been admitted to hospital following a car crash. He failed to respond even after she texted him to ask why he was ignoring her, although he did visit her in the hospital once.
Lin told the court that her husband didn’t reply to her texts for six months. His silence only ended when, two months after her car accident, he texted to ask a practical question about their dog and to let her know that he had her mail.
“He didn’t show any concern for her,” said Judge Kao, granting Lin her request for a divorce on the grounds that the marriage was beyond repair. “There’s very little interaction with the plaintiff; the defendant rarely replies to the plaintiff’s messages.”
The couple, who had been married since 2012, had a variety of other problems. Lin had to pay most household expenses as her husband didn’t have a stable income. She also alleged that his relatives had treated her badly since she moved into the family home, even down to controlling how long she could use the bathroom and the temperature of the shower water.
But Judge Kao made it clear in her comments that the Lin’s husband’s pattern of repeatedly ignoring very serious text messages was a major motivator for her decision to grant a divorce. “A normal couple shouldn’t treat each other like that,” she explained. “The Line messages were a very important piece of evidence. It shows the overall state of the marriage… that the two parties don’t have good communication.”
Ignoring multiple messages is a common source of irritation for many people in relationships, romantic or otherwise. But when does it cross into neglect?
“Intimate and loving relationships should create a priority level response when it comes to texts and phone calls,” explains relationship therapist Emma Kenny. “By ignoring her and by moreover purposely ignoring her texts he is acting in an unreasonable and emotionally negligent manner and this would fit the divorce criteria required.”
While at least Lin is rid of her ex, one further irony stands out in this case: Her husband never bothered to show up for the divorce court hearing, or respond to any of the court’s notices.