Once upon a time, if a man stopped working, he lost his reason for living. That time is now. We have come so far on so many issues of gender roles and norms, but being a male is still largely about being in control, and work continues to be the leading way for men to assume control.
Work dominates the lives of men because traditionally this was the only identity that could belong to them. It's like an ID card of masculinity—showing that they are not dependent on others.
Simply put, men without work are dispensable in our culture. The most glaring example of this for me is how we continue to expect men to work non-stop from their 20s through their 60s — mental health, self-esteem be damned. Taking a sabbatical or a career-break? You better be planning your next, bigger and better career move.
This is not a cop-out. I am very well aware that bills need to be paid; but even in familial situations where the other partner is capable of shouldering this responsibility, the culture at-large detests the idea of a man not working. And I am not even suggesting permanently not working — rather a pit-stop to refill the cup.
The tragedy of this relentless pursuit of control via work is that most men still don’t feel in control of their lives. As they work like a madman, revel in being called a “workhorse”, they compromise other elements of their lives, including love. Whether they can confess this or not, many men know that it is the truth of their lives.