Behind the Mind: Marie Curie and her Love Life

Today’s tech-savvy world would do a better job, one would imagine, bringing together brilliant minds. However, even if online dating and the millions-members-strong social networking pool aren’t attracting Nobel Prize-winners and other extremely gifted individuals, the potential is there nevertheless.

The mind ponders at times: how would yesteryear’s alum fare in this new-age market? Would an intelligent and driven woman like Marie Curie be interested in browsing the ‘Net to look for social connections?

No matter the real answer, which is impossible to know, we’ll assume yes – yes, she would have enjoyed the convenient format and may have perhaps advanced through her field more quickly and married earlier.

As it stands, however, Marie did just fine in her hey, despite the abundance of technological advances we continuously take for granted today.

Marie, the Trailblazing Pioneer

Marie Sklodowska (Curie) was born in Poland in 1867 and went on to become one of the most famous women in history. As a French physicist and chemist, Curie became famous for her work in the field of radioactivity.

Due to the times, her feats were made all the more impressive due to the fact Curie was a woman. As one might imagine, a woman’s place wasn’t readily thought to be in a man-dominated field. But Marie, after two Nobel Prizes—the first in history to do so—and becoming the first female professor at the University of Paris, more than proved her worth and was accepted as one of the most brilliant minds ever in her respective field.

Information about Marie’s impressive scientific accomplishments can be found strewn about the web in hundreds of different places. Her personality and love life, however, also make for an interesting story.

Mr. and Mrs. Currie

Marie grew up in an average family for the time and area. Her father was a teacher and her mother was an exceedingly devout Catholic. But Marie fled from the idea of any religion by the time she was 20. She was an extremely independent thinker, and also described as a bit on the discomfited side and wrapped up in her studies.

In today’s world, Marie may be described as socially awkward and homey. Her passion for learning outweighed any hankering for crowd-melding communal interaction, and thus only someone fitting her predefined love map would stand a chance.

Enter Marie’s first love, Kazimierz Zorawski.

As a financial arrangement to attend school in Paris in the future, Marie took a job as a governess and eventually landed in Ciechanow with the Zorawskis’ family. The Zorawskis were relatives of Marie’s father, and the family’s son, Kazimierz, caught the young girl’s eye.

Marie seems to fit a typical Freudian pattern when it comes to love. Kazimierz was brilliant in his own right, eventually going on to fame as a mathematician, and was, in many ways, a mirror image of her father, a teacher himself in mathematics and physics.

The two were as young and as in love as any poetic story you’d read from the time and, in fact, the clichés all apply here. The couple wanted to marry, but Kazimierz’s family forbade it, citing the fact that Marie was penniless and basically beneath him.

Even though the marriage could never happen, Marie, as her personality suggests, never gave up on the idea. She was committed to Kazimierz and stayed that way until 1891, some years after meeting, when he finally broke the relationship off completely through a letter.

Marie, living with her father at the time of the news, decided to finally head to Paris after the split, where she had always planned on studying but couldn’t afford it.

Tragically, the breakup was hard on both parties. With similar interests, shared passions and youth on their side, the two had forged a bond that, if not for outside interference, would have most likely survived for the long haul.

Still heartbroken, Marie began to tutor during the evenings and attend school during the day, barely getting through. Finally, in 1893, she was awarded a degree in physics and then a degree in mathematics in 1894. While attending school, Marie met Pierre Curie, her eventual husband.

This is where Marie would begin her scientific career. Working in the field of magnetism, ironically, Sklodowska and Currie were drawn together. Although they were very fond of each other, Marie wanted to return to Poland to work.

When that fell through, Marie returned to Paris and married Pierre in 1895.

What we see here is very typical of Marie, even adjusted for inflation, so to speak, in this modern age. Due to her past relationship failing and having her heart shattered, Marie’s newly-formed inclination was to flee possible future heartbreak and go her own way. However, love, as we all know, finds a way, and the two were happily married until Pierre’s sudden death in 1906.

It could be said that the couple was fated to come together. Once married, the partnership bore fruits of gigantic significance in the scientific field. Marie was so devoted to her groundbreaking work that the birth of her two daughters (Irene, 1897, Eve, 1904) never interrupted her professional life.

The love was so strong that it actually changed Marie permanently. Fortunately, the change was for the better, or at least as good as it could be considering the circumstances of her husband’s sudden death. But after he passed away, Marie was no longer working for the self-driven desires she once possessed. She was now working in her husband’s memory, and much of her astonishing work was completed after Pierre’s death and in his honor.

A Legacy of Love

What Marie had in her life was, even through tragedy, what many of us would call fulfillment. During her life, she was deeply in love with two men whom she found kindred passion with, and having a family with her husband completed a circle which many of us can only aspire to.

Although a lot of the customs from Marie’s time are gone, and even though the landscape has drastically changed, the deep level of love she found can be and is experienced by millions of people around the globe via online dating.

Marie’s connections weren’t physical, per se; they seemed to be rooted deeply in emotions and true compatibility. To that end, it’s reassuring to know common passion can lead to true love. And it’s really refreshing to realize that the means to find it are so readily available.
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