Was Einstein the world's worst husband Wife ordered to keep room tidy, serve three meals a day – but expect NO affection… and she must stop talking when he demands it
13:30 GMT, 23 April 2012
He remains one of the world's most important scientists.
But despite his innumerable professional successes, Einstein found it impossible to sustain a successful personal life.
In his book, Einstein: His Life and Universe, Walter Isaacson describes how Albert Einstein found maintaining a harmonious love life a battle he would never win.
In fact, so pragmatic was Einstein's approach to love, that when he found his 11 year marriage to fellow scientist Mileva Maric was floundering, he issued a list of outrageous rules that he believed would allow the two to remain together for the sake of the children.
Edict: In 1914 when Albert Einstein found his marriage to first wife, Mileva Maric, was floundering, he issued a list of demands that he believed would allow them to maintain a relationship for the sake of the children
The list, published in full below, is a set of demands that would see Maric become more maidservant than lover.
Einstein was driven to write the list when, in 1914,he realised that after 11 years, his marriage to first wife Maric – one of the first women to study mathematics and physics in Europe – was destined for failure.
Realising that salvaging their
personal relationship was a lost cause, ever the pragmatist,
Einstein proposed that he and Maric should stay together for the sake of the
But with his proposal came an austere list of demands to which his wife must adhere.
the list demanded Maric continue to act as maid to
her erstwhile husband – yet should expect no affection or attention in
demanded that she keep his rooms tidy, bring him three meals a day (to
be eaten in his room), keep his clothes and laundry in good order, and
keep his bedroom and study neat (she should not use his desk, of course).
would seemingly be no benefits to Maric in return. In fact, Einstein
stipulates in his list of conditions, printed in Isaacson's book (via
that she must not expect Einstein to either sit with her, or
accompany her outside of the house – and she must stop talking when he
'renounce all personal relations' not strictly essential for
social reasons – which should not include expecting to be accompanied on
addition, Einstein stipulated that his wife should not expect any
intimacy from him, should not reproach him in any way; should stop
talking to him if he requested it; should leave his bedroom or study
immediately without protest if requested, and should refrain from
belittling him in front of the children, either through words or
Pragmatic: Einstein predicted early on that he would have to seek solace in science when his personal relationships failed
Neanderthal-minded males out there may well be nodding sagely in
accordance with Einstein's outrageous demand – but women's jaws will no
doubt be collectively hitting the floor.
it seems that Einstein's wife, although she initially agreed to her
husband's unreasonably demands, ultimately had the same reaction.
a few months after he issued his misogynistic manifesto, she left
Einstein in Berlin and moved with their sons, Hans Albert and Eduard (their daughter, Lieserl, born in 1902, was given up for adoption), to Zurich.
Five years later
she filed for divorce and, in 1919, it was granted.
The outcome would come as no surprise to the scientist's former girlfriends.
Indeed, Isaacson reveals how as a young man, Einstein predicted in a letter to the mother of his first girlfriend
that the 'joys of science' would be a refuge from 'painful personal
As testament to that fact, the father
of the theory of relativity is known to have had many liaisons throughout his marriage to Maric. In fact, he became involved with Elsa, a first cousin
who would become his second wife, in 1912, when he was still married to his first wife.
Given the circumstances in which they met, Elsa may have expected a certain level of dalliance from her new husband.
And of course, although Einstein married Elsa in 1919, within four years he was already involved with Bette Neumann, his secretary
and the niece of one of his friends.
'His conquest of general relativity
proved easier than finding the formulas for the forces swirling within
his family,' Isaacson says.
Something the women who loved him learned the hard way.
A MISOGYNIST'S MANIFESTO: EINSTEIN'S LIST OF DEMANDS IN FULL
You will make sure:
– that my clothes and laundry are kept in good order;
– that I will receive my three meals regularly in my room;
– that my bedroom and study are kept neat, and especially that my desk is left for my use only.
You will renounce all personal relations with me insofar as they are
not completely necessary for social reasons. Specifically, You will
– my sitting at home with you;
– my going out or travelling with you.
You will obey the following points in your relations with me:
– you will not expect any intimacy from me, nor will you reproach me in any way;
– you will stop talking to me if I request it;
– you will leave my bedroom or study immediately without protest if I request it.
You will undertake not to belittle me in front of our children, either through words or behaviour.
Source: Einstein: His Life and Universe, by Walter Isaacson, via listsofnote.com)