A businessman who argued that a row he had with his wife in respect of her map-reading skills was wrongly treated as evidence that their relationship had irretrievably broken down has failed to convince the Court of Appeal that he has arguable grounds for challenging the decree nisi that ended his marriage.

The husband, a company director, accepted that he had argued with his wife after they became lost during a wine-tasting trip to Burgundy but insisted that there was still life left in his marriage and that there was no sufficient evidence that it would be unreasonable to expect his wife to continue living with him.

Refusing permission to appeal, however, Lord Justice Thorpe emphasised that it had been for the first instance judge to exercise his discretion on the evidence and it was not the appellate courts’ role to reconsider the facts of the case.

He said: “The conclusion of the judge was that the marriage had irretrievably broken down. He concluded that the wife had proved her case. The husband’s appeal against that is manifestly very difficult. The wife’s case was being put at a minimum to satisfy the legal test but to save the husband from assertions that might appear gratuitous or unkind.

“The husband is a man of considerable intelligence and he has advanced his case with courtesy. It is sad, as it seems to me, that this couple have spent far more energy and wasted far more money than was ever necessary had there been a more realistic assessment of where they stood and how to bring their failed marriage to an end.”