Weird History
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Behind Einstein's Disastrous First Marriage To Physicist Mileva Marić

Updated June 4, 2020 3.4m views7 items
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Albert Einstein is regarded as one of history’s greatest geniuses, both for his contributions to humanity’s understanding of physics and for his embodiment of the stereotypical traits of the eccentric brainiac. Unfortunately, those stereotypical traits included some serious issues with human interaction, which resulted in Einstein treating the women in his life terribly.

Albert Einstein married Mileva Marić in 1903, and from the beginning, he did not treat his wife very well. As the marriage deteriorated, things got simultaneously ugly and ridiculous, including a situation in which Marić was asked to agree to Einstein’s list of demands.

  • Photo: ETH Library / Wikimedia Commons / Public Domain

    Einstein Demanded To Be Left Alone, But Marić Agreed For The Sake Of Their Children

    The same clause in Einstein’s re-marriage contract concludes with demands that his wife be quiet and leave him alone whenever he wanted. The clause includes points such as:

    2. you will stop talking to me if I request it;

    3. you will leave my bedroom or study immediately without protest if I request it.

    Futhermore, Einstein, however, demanded that Marić, “undertake not to belittle [him] in front of [their] children, either through words or behavior.” For the sake of their two children, however, Marić acquiesced to her husband’s demands. They remained married for another five years.

  • Photo: Los Angeles Times Photographic Archive/UCLA Library / Wikimedia Commons / Public Domain

    Some Believe Marić Contributed To His Einstein's Theories, But Was Left Uncredited

    Like Einstein, Mileva Marić was a physics student of note. She was able to receive an education in maths and science when most Serbian women could not, then attended the Swiss Polytechnic Institute in Zurich, where she and Einstein met, but she never received a diploma due to poor grades.

    Despite never graduating, and never establishing her own career in physics apart from Einstein's, there have been theories that she may have been an uncredited collaborator on a number of her husband’s greatest discoveries. Some even go so far as to claim she deserves credit as a co-author of Einstein’s famous theory of special relativity.

    These claims, however, are tenuous and are still debated as there is no direct evidence to support tem.

  • Photo: Library Of Congress / Wikimedia Commons / Public Domain

    Einstein Eventually Left Marić For His Own Cousin

    Albert Einstein’s marriage to Mileva Marić eventually ended. In 1912, Einstein began an affair with his cousin, Elsa Löwenthal, and he finally decided to divorce Marić and marry Löwenthal in 1919. The marriage, however, was also complicated

    Letter correspondence between Ilse Einstein, Löwenthal's daughter, and a professor of medicine whom she had a relationship with, Georg Nicolai, revelead that Einstein may have had an affair with Ilse at the same time as his affair with her mother. “Albert himself is refusing to take any decision,” she wrote Nicolai. “He is prepared to marry either me or Mama. I know that A. Love me very much, perhaps more than any other man ever will, he also told me so himself yesterday.”

    Einstein remained married to Loewenthal until her death in 1936, but it wasn't a happy marriage, either. Einstein continued to have multiple affairs while married to Elsa.