John J. King, Philadelphia, for appellant.
Robert Boyd, Jr., Philadelphia, for appellee.
Before Ross, Acting P. J., and Gunther, Wright, Woodside and Ervin, JJ.
[ 175 Pa. Super. Page 535]
Anna Wachter Wieber instituted an action in divorce a. v. m. against her husband, Frederick Wieber. The ground alleged was indignities to the person. The bill of particulars contained forty-four specifications. There were eight hearings, and the testimony covers six hundred twenty-seven typewritten pages. The master spent seventy working hours on the case. He recommended a decree in a forty-seven page report, to which thirty-four exceptions were taken. The lower court dismissed the exceptions, approved the master's report, adopting his findings and conclusions, and entered a final decree. This appeal followed.
Pursuant to our duty, we have carefully reviewed the entire record. See Matovcik v. Matovcik, 173 Pa. Super. 267, 98 A.2d 238. In the words of Mr. Justice Linn in Bobst v. Bobst, 357 Pa. 441, 54 A.2d 898, 899, we must apply 'the cold tests of common experience'. While we are not concluded by the master's findings, his judgment upon the question of credibility is entitled to the fullest consideration. This is especially true when his report, as in the case at bar, presents a searching analysis of the testimony. See Smith v. Smith, 157 Pa. Super. 582, 43 A.2d 371.
The parties were married on June 20, 1942. The husband is now forty years of age, and the wife is thirty-three. A male child was born to the union, who is now seven years of age. In addition, the wife suffered two miscarriages. During the first part of their married life, the parties lived with the wife's parents, subsequently moving into a separate home in June, 1945. They returned to the wife's parents in April or May of 1948. In October, 1948, they again moved into a separate home, where they lived until their separation. The master found that, during the entire period of their married life, appellant exhibited an egotistical
[ 175 Pa. Super. Page 536]
and domineering attitude which tended to relegate the wife to a menial role of abject submission. He established a strict routine which was to be followed in all of her household duties, and which was carried over even into her hours of leisure. Following the birth of their child, the wife took on extra weight, tipping the scales at considerably over two hundred pounds. Appellant used this obesity as the basis for continuous name calling, the milder of the terms being 'beef trust' and 'walrus'. He used these derisive appellations, and others of a much more vulgar nature, several times a week, not only in the privacy of their home, but also in the presence of friends and relatives. Furthermore, he showed great disdain for his wife's manner of dress, and publicly made a point of slightingly comparing her to other women. All of this treatment tended to humiliate and embarrass the wife and placed her under nervous tension.
Notwithstanding his attitude toward his wife's physical appearance, appellant insisted on nightly sexual intercourse irrespective of the wife's desires or feelings in the matter. In addition to the vulgarities appellant employed with respect to his wife's over-weight, he habitually used profane language toward her, both at home and in public. This was done with such frequency that the couple's child began repeating the language. Although he professed dislike for the child, in part because of its physical appearance, appellant accused his wife of neglecting it. He did not want the child to bear his name, and frequently exhibited such a violent attitude that the wife feared for the child's life. See Picciano v. Picciano, 110 Pa. Super. 189, 168 A. 488. Appellant also exhibited a hostile attitude toward his wife's family. On one occasion, at Christmas, he appeared at their home in an intoxicated condition, using vile and profane language
[ 175 Pa. Super. Page 537]
and making threats, all of which caused appellee extreme embarrassment. On several occasions appellant threatened his wife with bodily ...