Momma Bear

Recently we hosted Jay Millar, founder of The Virtual Dad, on our Single Momcast. During our discussion, we talked about the following article. We felt like it would be a good addition to our blog content too, so we’re reprinting it below.  —Arise Ministries

The following blog was written by Jay Millar, founder of My Virtual Dad. It was intended for an audience of men to teach an effective way to be a husband and how to “protect” their wife. After it was originally published, however, an interesting thing happened. More women read it and responded with heartfelt feedback than the male audience. They felt like they were understood. The topic connected with them deeply and was the most popular article posted on the website [1] My Virtual Dad in 2021.  

This topic matters to you because it reminds you that:

  1. You are not alone.  
  2. You are strong.
  3. You don’t need to do it alone
  4. There are ways to coach and guide sons to support their future wives.

Let’s jump into it. I hope you enjoy the following article!

The Novice Know It All

When I was 18, I was accepted to college and I thought I was pretty smart. After I graduated, I felt I didn’t know much because I discovered there are more things to study and explore than any of us has time for. My worldview had greatly expanded.  

Similarly, when I got married, I thought I had a lot of things figured out. Soon thereafter, I felt I didn’t know much. Immediately, and for the first time in my life, I became fully aware that I should wipe the counter after making a sandwich. Here is another example of early marriage education:  I never knew there were 87 ways to say the color “off-white.” Here are some options I found: eggshell, bone, cream, ivory, vanilla, white dove, halo, paper, and my personal favorite ecru. I also learned other words that never registered in my 26-year-old male mind previously in my life: ambiance, sconce, duvet, and trivet. I break out this vocabulary to impress friends on poker-night. My worldview had expanded again in ways I had never considered.

The Myth

In my marriage, I knew I wanted to be a great husband, father, and provider. That was my goal, but I wasn’t exactly sure how to make that happen since I hadn’t witnessed a good example in my home growing up. It turns out reality did not match my novice expectations of marriage. I was more wrong than right. Yes, I was a husband, but we both shared the role of the provider in a variety of ways over the years. By far the biggest surprise came when I realized I did not need to protect my wife from the world as much as I needed to protect her from herself. Let me explain.

You see, my wife can more than take care of herself during work meetings, in neighborhood gatherings, at schools, banks, stores, or anywhere. She is smart, strong, and confident and knows how to build and protect boundaries for herself. Sure, I am protective in places like a parking lot at night and similar situations.

My perspective about my wife shifted when we had our three boys. I would be on alert to protect my wife and the boys. My wife would focus on the boys and not me, which is a natural focus for a mom. She wanted to ensure their safety in all situations. If anyone was a threat to their physical or emotional well-being, Mama Bear would come out and protect her cubs. I witnessed the Mama Bear protection many times over the years and am guessing you have as well. (Sidenote:  My rapid research suggests the spelling Mama, rather than Momma, appears to be the predominant spelling in the urban lexicon.)  

The Break Through

Then one night, about five years into our marriage, as we were getting ready for bed and brushing our teeth, she made two comments that struck me in a new way. One was derogatory about how she looked that night and the other was chastising herself about a parenting mistake she made that day. I had heard these kinds of remarks before and had even made some of them about myself. We all do that. However, for the first time, I realized how deeply she internalized these comments and how she “felt” her internal dialog much differently than I did as a husband.  

My wife is not alone. Society places expectations on moms to “do it all” and “have it all together” to take care of their family gracefully. Plus, there are expectations on how to look and act, which compounds the pressure for most ladies. Sure, men have societal expectations too, but I firmly believe, women internalize the pressure much differently.  

That night it clicked for me, that my wife’s biggest enemy was not coming from external sources but from her own internal self-talk. My job as a husband shifted to finding strategies to protect her from herself more than protecting her from the world. Yes, my role remains to provide and protect. Fortunately, as of this writing, we have never had an intruder in our home and are highly unlikely to be in that scenario in my lifetime. The protection I now provide is emotional and is to be the voice of truth, encouragement, and support.  

Today, I accept and embrace the role I play in our relationship. Each of us, every day, has to protect ourselves from the battle of our minds. Especially after the grind of the pandemic where there is less social interaction and more demands on families, with far less support. Every day my wife and all women have to respond to the expectations and demands the world places on women and mothers. I now relish the idea that I can be helpful and supportive to her in a new way. What that looks like for me is to give her grace and help not pin herself down emotionally when things are not perfect. It gives me a clear sense of purpose and feels good to contribute to our marriage in a meaningful way.  

Mirror, mirror, on the wall does not tell the truth at all

One example is, I tell her that the mirror on the wall (coupled with her self-talk) is oftentimes not an accurate representation of her world. I let her know that I am her true mirror and what I see is a strong, beautiful, loving wife and mom.  

At the end of the day, it is good to know the cubs are protected and Mama Bear is not alone to protect herself on the family journey.  

My Virtual Dad content is created for men to become the best husband, father, and provider they can be—especially those men who didn’t have a father speaking into their life—and to help all men develop communication tools to be more confident and effective in their role.

About Jay Millar

Jay helps men and boys stop the overwhelm of life.  He helps those who want to become the best husband, father, and provider they can be.  He provides an exact blueprint of actionable steps that will create success and peace in households.  He is passionate about filling the gap that many men who grow up without a father figure or who have very little guidance get on the right path to success with their family, marriage, and work with proven lessons that make a big impact.  He is the founder of My Virtual Dad. Jay is a native of Colorado and has been happily married to Debbie for over 25 years. They have three boys Joe, Adam, and Jack (aged 24, 22, and 20), one daughter-in-law, Madi.


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