Albert Einstein’s Wedding Contract

Tim Challies blogged today about Albert Einstein’s wedding contract. See what you think of this:

Albert Einstein’s Wedding (Marriage) Contract:

A. You 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.

B. You will renounce all personal relations with me insofar as they are not completely necessary for social reasons. Specifically, you will forego

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

C. You will obey the following points in your relations with me:

  1. you will not expect any intimacy from me, nor will you reproach me in any way;
  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.

D. You will undertake not to belittle me in front of our children, either through words or behavior.

Wow! Other than the final point, that’s a pretty brutal contract. What’s even more amazing is that his wife accepted it! Be sure to read Tim’s article for more background on Einstein and the contract as well as some good, theological reflection on it all.


  1. Albert Einstein’s contribution to physics was perhaps not quite what the layman usually thinks it was. Albert Einstein was asked to poseso many times that he said if he hadn’t been a physicist, he could havemade a living as a model. Albert Einstein was the most famous and influential scientist of the twentieth century; his discoveries transformed both the world itself and our understanding of it. ” — Albert Einstein”So long as they don’t get violent, I want to let everyone say whatthey wish, for I myself have always said exactly what pleased me.

  2. Matt Tootalian says:

    Actually Einstein’s wife did not agree to that contract.

  3. Ray Fowler says:

    Matt – Are you sure? According to this article in the Washington Post, she did. Link: Einstein’s Pickup Line

  4. Rich says:

    The Washington Post is wrong. She did not agree to the contract but did agree to a divorce because she was promised the proceeds of yet to be won Nobel Peace Prize.

  5. Ray Fowler says:

    Thanks, Rich. Do you have a source that confirms that the Post is wrong on this one?

  6. Cindy says:

    One source is a History Channel documentary called Einstein. In this documentary it is explained that the contract was drawn up later in their marriage (after they had two children, hence the reference to behavior in front of the children) when it was breaking down and he was having an affair with his first cousin. The contract was basically part of an ultimatum. He wanted a divorce and offered to give her the cash reward attached to the Nobel prize he had not yet won. She agreed. He later married his first cousin. All according to the history channel’s documentary called Einstein.

  7. Cindy says:

    Also, both the sources you reference state that the contract was made later in the marriage.

  8. Ray Fowler says:

    Cindy – Thanks for the additional information. I’m still confused, though. Did his wife ever agree to the contract? Or did she just agree to the divorce?

  9. Matt says:

    First of all, it was never a “wedding contract.” Einstein drew it up well into their marriage when the difficulties they were having became overwhelming. In his mind, the contract was a way for them to live civilly and without confrontation. It was to give the illusion to their children that everything was alright with the family.

    His wife did not officially sign the contract nor outwardly accept any of the terms. She did agree to level with some of his terms, though for the sake of the children – not because she was weak-minded.

    She didn’t want to get a divorce either. In fact it spurred a mental breakdown, which may or may not have eventually led to the stroke she suffered.

    Einstein may have been a genius but when it came to his family he was pretty ill-equipped. Typical of many historical “geniuses”

  10. Ray Fowler says:

    Hi Matt – Welcome back. Rich and Cindy (above comments) would seem to confirm what you say. Do you know of a written source I could link to that gives the full story? Cindy mentioned a History Channel documentary, but I was looking for something written.

  11. Irish Blackie says:

    Friend E’s The information is muddled. I saw the Einstein program that Cindy mentioned. I also lived very close to his home in Princeton N.J. and visited with near neighbours. My befuddlement is tHIS: WHY did he feel the need the distance?
    All I can conceive is his need for solitude and time alone to do his “thought experiments” Answers?
    I bring this up only for I am faced with similar conditions
    not a brain , but an artist (of sorts)

  12. Ray Fowler says:

    Irish Blackie – I also find the whole contract baffling. I guess that’s why I posted it. Why would anyone want a marriage so lacking in intimacy?

  13. Andi says:

    Actually, Einstein had an affair with his first cousin on one of his trips to Berlin. Einstein had developed deep feelings for her, that is why he told his wife ( if you agree to these terms I will stay married to you). Einsteins wife declined and she agreed to give him a divorce because he promised her his proceeds from the Nobel prize, he was quite certain he would receive the Nobel. Malava

  14. Andi says:

    Einsteins wife believed he would receive one as well so, she agreed, and gave him a divorce. Einstein actually ended up marrying his first cousin Ellsa Einstein.

  15. Stephanie says:

    I think that you are looking at the contract all wrong. This is a man who pocesses a very rare genius (yes we all are aware of the fact). Yet you forget to add credence to the fact that Albert Einstein didn’t speak until he was four, and not fluently in his own language until he was eight or nine.

    He did poorly in school and was a day dreamer.

    He had tantrums as a child and couldn’t express himself very well.

    When he was a child, he was considered retarded even by his own parents.

    Many people in the Einstein family are autistic.

    (hmmm interesting pattern let us continue)…

    An autistic brain has a cerebrum larger than normal, and a cerebellum smaller than normal. An autopsy of Einstein’s brain showed that Einstein’s cerebrum was indeed larger than normal (like an autistic brain). Unfortunately howerver, they did not reveal the size of his cerebellum.

    Even as an adult, Albert Einstein couldn’t take care of himself.

    He never learned how to drive a car.

    He was a visual thinker.

    Pretty brutal contract perhaps.. I think you are perhaps overly critical of a savant who may have possibly had Asperger syndrome or was Autisitc.

  16. Matt Tootalian says:

    Ray, I recommend to you, “Einstein: His Life and Universe” by Walter Isaacson. It’s a thick read but one of the best books and collections of source material on Einstein.

    Here’s a link to grab it on amazon.

    Stephanie hit the nail on its head. It’s not uncommon for a person to fall in love with or at least give into the allure someone with the personality traits of a savant – an autism spectrum-ish genius like Einstein or a charmingly brooding loner type, only to discover after marriage that the traits they fell in love with during courtship don’t translate well to a healthy longterm relationship.

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