In order for Andrews to be “everyman,” his wife has to be “everywoman,” and that’s the way he wants to depict her, but his (indirect) response to Megan McArdle makes even more clear the particular gender dynamic of their marriage, something only hinted at in his NYTMag article: His wife Patty exists as the object of his desire (she is “brainy, regal, sexy, fiery and eclectic”), calling forth his manly impulse to rescue and protect her. She has no agency in her own right, and hence no accountability. Neither of her two previous bankruptcies, you see, was really her fault. The first was caused by a deadbeat (now ex) husband who “blindsided” his “stay-at-home mom” wife into signing fraudulent tax returns. The second was caused by a sister who, like a harpy,”followed her east” to collect the loan that Patty, caring for four children without a permanent job or any child support [damned deadbeat husband!] had taken from her. By the time the sister caught up with her, Patty had remarried, and her devoted new husband would have raided his 401k to pay the sister back, but the court wouldn’t allow it.
Why didn’t Andrews reveal all this from the outset? He wanted to spare his wife the pain: “Since Patty had been so brave in letting me tell our own story so candidly, I wanted to spare her the public exposure on these older woes.” Brave? Candidly? Please. The success of Andrews’ tell-all — scratch that, I mean Andrews’ tell-some book is all that stands between her and a third bankruptcy in ten years.
Andrews wrote his book to protect his wife and save them from foreclosure, but his failure to disclose his wife’s full financial history now brings his credibility as a reporter — all he had left to sell — into question. Andrews and his wife are the victims not only of their own bad financial planning and a deeply irresponsible and reckless mortgage industry but also some pretty retrograde ideas about gender roles.