• Weird History

Behind Einstein's Disastrous First Marriage To Physicist Mileva Marić

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: US Govt. Defense Threat Reduction Agency / Wikimedia Commons / Public Domain

    Albert Einstein Married Mileva Marić, But He Was Already Married To His Work

    When Albert Einstein, aged 24, married the 28-year-old Mileva Marić in 1903. Einstein and Marić were initially wild about each other, and they shared a deep passion for physics, allowing them to bond over their work.

    Einstein was notoriously reclusive at times, however, and was often so bogged down with his studies that he neglected his personal hygiene. Marić had married a man that was already married to his work.

  • Photo: Paul Ehrenfest's Associate / Wikimedia Commons / Public Domain

    The Two Conceived A Child Out Of Wedlock, But No One Knows What Happened To The Infant

    The earliest days of Einstein and Marić’s relationship was marked by a mysterious and tragic occurrence. Marić gave birth to an child in 1902, a year before they were married, but nobody seems to know what happened to the girl, who was named Lieserl.

    Lieserl's birth was unknown to the public until 30 years after Einstein's death when, in 1987, a volume of his collected notes and papers were released, revealing his and Marić's illegitimate child.

    Some argue Einstein’s mother forced them to give up the child, while others believe the child died young after being raised by Marić’s parents in Serbia. The truth may never be known, but most historians believe Lieserl passed away shortly after her birth due to scarlet fever.

  • Photo: ETH Library / Wikimedia Commons / Public Domain

    Einstein Created List Of Demanding His Wife Maintained Home Life

    After a temporary split in 1914, after 11 years of marriage, Einstein drafted a list of demands that he presented to his wife as conditions for his return to the relationship.

    The two were open to maintaining the relationship for the sake of their two children, but Einstein was not willing to compromise on his vision of marriage, which included no responsibilities for him and plenty of demanding ones for his wife.

    The first subsection of his neatly-organized, marriage-maintaining contract states that Marić, “will make sure:

    1. that my clothes and laundry are kept in good order;

    2. that I will receive my three meals regularly in my room;

    3. that my bedroom and study are kept neat, and especially that my desk is left for my use only.”


  • Photo: ETH Library / Wikimedia Commons / Public Domain

    Einstein Asked That Marić 'Renounce All Personal Relations' With Him

    Einstein did not appear willing to do much work around the house, according to his list of demands, nor did he want to do anything else for their relationship. In the would-be contract, Einstein asks that his wife “renounce all personal relations with [him] insofar as they are not completely necessary for social reasons.”

    The physicist wasn't afraid to go into greater detail, either, as he notes:

    Specifically, You will forego:

    1. my sitting at home with you;
    2. my going out or traveling with you.

    Furthermore, Einstein made it perfectly clear to Marić that she should expect zero intimacy, be it physical or emotional, from him if they decided to continue their marriage. The third clause in his list of demands asks that Marić "will not expect any intimacy from [him], nor will [she] reproach him in any way."