Einstein: you might have heard of him. Theory of relativity, questionable hairstyle and all that. You might have even heard of the controversy surrounding his marriage to fellow physics student Mileva Maric, with whom he spent a long time discussing calculations and promising to do ‘joint’ work with, before never referencing her contributions in any of his work. A bit of cheeky self-serving behaviour never hurt anyone, but the best (worst) thing about Einstein’s relationship to Maric is the list that he gave her when their relationship had broken down. Having agreed to ‘stay together for the kids’, as Blink 182 so astutely put it (not in a song about Einstein), old Albie took it upon himself to issue Mileva with a few kindly tips on how she might conduct herself in the future.CONDITIONS
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 forego:
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 behavior.
Whether or not Mileva found this list as loltastic as I did is hard to say. To test out whether these were reasonable requests, I started slipping a few in to my normal day-to-day conversations in various relationships with other people.
‘Up for lunch tomorrow?’ my friend texted me.
‘Hell yes. Sounds delicious – shall we go to Pret? And you will stop talking to me if I request it?’
No reply. Damn.
‘So, last night was fun,’ said my Saturday night date. ‘Up for a drink next week? I think we go really well together.’
‘Sure. But don’t expect any intimacy from me, or reproach me in any way.’
Fledgling relationship ended. Maybe it’s my hair?
It’s a shame that one of the greatest modern contributors to our knowledge of the universe kept popping in facile little digs like ‘Men marry women hoping that they don’t change, and women marry men hoping they’ll change. Both are invariably disappointed’ in between writing snidey lists to the woman who loved him even though he was, er, shagging his cousin (bad science if I ever heard of it), but even Albert Einstein was a product of his time. In the aforementioned quote, he essentially meant ‘women should have hot bodies and not get all old-person and stressed out when I order them to bring my laundry and dinner with my room every day while I explicitly state that there will never be any emotional reciprocation; men will always sleep around.’ A maxim that he did, inevitably, conduct his life according to. As dumbfoundingly stupid in his personal life as he was gutwrenchingly clever in his intellectual endeavours, I reckon this twentieth century lad had it all worked out when he said: ‘Only two things are infinite, the universe and human stupidity – and I’m not sure about the former.’