Albert Einstein? H. M. Harwood? R. Gore-Browne? John Conwell? Estelle Getty? Apocryphal?
Dear Quote Investigator: Did Albert Einstein’s genius extend from physics to psychology? The following remark has been ascribed to him:
Men marry women with the hope they will never change. Women marry men with the hope they will change. Invariably they are both disappointed.
I have not found any persuasive citations. Would you please examine the provenance of this statement?
Quote Investigator: There is no substantive evidence that Einstein who died in 1955 made this statement. Indeed, it is listed in a section called “Probably Not By Einstein” within the comprehensive reference “The Ultimate Quotable Einstein” from Princeton University Press. 1
The earliest ascription to Einstein located by QI appeared in 1982 in “Forbes” magazine which reported that the line was spoken by the popular comedian Mort Sahl during a performance. Perhaps Sahl concocted the linkage to the famous scientist to heighten the humor. See the detailed citation listed further below.
The earliest solid match to the statement known to QI occurred in the play “Cynara” by H. M. Harwood and R. Gore-Browne which was performed in London in 1930. The drama moved to Broadway in 1931, and it was included in a compilation of “The Best Plays of 1931-32”. The character John Tring offered the following insight about marriage. The phrasing differed from the quotation under examination, but the underlying idea was the same. Emphasis added to excerpts by QI: 2
TRING—Exactly! That’s the trouble about marriage. Women always hope it’s going to change the husband. Men always hope it won’t change their wives—and both are disappointed! (He gets up.) Never if you can help it be a woman’s first lover—unless, of course, you’ve got the explorer’s temperament.
The play was adapted from the novel “An Imperfect Lover” by R. Gore-Browne, but QI’s search did not detect the quotation within the book.
Here are additional selected citations in chronological order.
- 2010, The Ultimate Quotable Einstein, Edited by Alice Calaprice, Section: Probably Not By Einstein, Page 482, Princeton University Press, Princeton, New Jersey. (Verified on paper) ↩
- 1932, The Best Plays of 1931-32 and the Year Book of the Drama in America, Edited by Burns Mantle, Section: Cynara: A Drama in Prologue, Three Acts and an Epilogue by H. M. Harwood (Harold Marsh Harwood) and R. Gore-Browne, (Adapted from novel “An Imperfect Lover” by R. Gore-Browne), Start Page 335, Quote Page 358, Dodd, Mead and Company, New York. (Reprint Edition in 1975: Arno Press: A New York Times Company, New York) (Verified with hard copy) ↩