Relationship Fitness

S21 E4: The Impact of Society’s Expectations on Men’s Identities

In this episode of the Relationship Workout for Men podcast, Vince Vasquez discusses with Roni Maislish the impact of societal expectations on men’s identities. They explore how modern demands for deeper connections and emotional presence challenge men to prioritize meaningful relationships with their partners and children. They emphasize the importance of being present and introspective to foster stronger connections and navigate life’s evolving expectations.

**Vince Vasquez speaking:**

Welcome to Relationship Workout for Men, a podcast dedicated to helping men be intentional in choosing a better partner and being a better partner for the person they choose. Season 21: Men Navigating Strength, Vulnerability, and Addictions. In episode four: The Impact of Society’s Expectations on Men’s Identities. Today, I’m speaking with Roni Maislish, a clinical social worker and psychotherapist who has been working for 20 years on the psychological roots of emotional eating, food addiction, and obesity. So, in this episode, we’re going to discuss the role society’s expectations have on men’s identities and how we are not separated from what is happening around us. What does that mean?

 

**Roni Maislish speaking:**

Yeah, I think the world is changing, you know. Maybe you can say it’s changing all the time, and that’s true. But I think in the last 20-30 years, it’s been changing more and more. The world, in a way, is in crisis, and the male position in the world is in crisis. What we were taught in the past is not enough because, as I said in the last chapter, more and more people want more from life than just surviving. Many men didn’t have enough equipment to know how to live this life, the emotional aspect of life. So they need to learn, they need to speak, they need to go, they need to have adventures, they need to shift themselves, maybe like having different careers. They need to move from one dimension to another. And that requires a lot of energy, time, and capacity. If you’re working all day long, you don’t have the energy and time to be curious. You need to find ways to create small islands of doing nothing, like in a void, an emptiness zone—a state of being. When you practice introspection and find those places, you may discover something within yourself that can move you forward and give you more direction.

 

More women now are demanding deeper conversations and relationships. This is not only true for women but also for children. Our children, who are partners in our small community within our households, bring their perspective and demand more presence. They want to feel their fathers’ presence, to have them there with them. This is very challenging, especially if we ran away from ourselves during our childhood. It becomes difficult to be present. Part of the reason I am learning acting is that it forces me to be present in the moment. When you’re on stage and need to act, you must be present. This practice helps in engaging in relationships.

 

The old world is dying, and a new world is emerging, demanding men to be more present, to experience their emotions, and to work on their memories—what really happened to them and how they can relate to it.

 

**Vince Vasquez speaking:**

So, regardless of how busy our days are, we have to make it a priority to make space to be present for our partners and our children because they are demanding that. When I look at my conversations with my boys, they expect me to be present with them, well beyond what my father and I experienced many years ago. Isn’t being present going to help with that connection? Being present can engage conversation and bring connectedness.

 

**Roni Maislish speaking:**

Yeah, I think it’s very important. If you practice presence, it’s about connecting to yourself first. Practicing presence allows you to be present in conversations. If you can wait for yourself, you can wait for others. If you can be empathetic to yourself, you can be empathetic to another person. You can be loving and kind to yourself and then extend that to others. Some people need a therapist to help them learn how to be loving and kind to themselves. People who want to change and transform their lives must find those islands of emptiness in their lifestyle. Lifestyle is not only about eating salads and running; it’s also about finding time for yourself, like a date with yourself in nature. I like to go to the movies by myself because it’s an important meeting with myself, and I can bring something I learned to my partner.

 

**Vince Vasquez speaking:**

So it’s about being present for yourself. This ties into having a purpose. By being present for ourselves, we enable that purpose and journey. But also, in a tactical way, being present for our wives when they come home from work, actually listening to how their day was and being present in that conversation brings connectedness instead of letting our minds wander.

 

**Roni Maislish speaking:**

Yeah, it’s moving from a behavioral level to a more spiritual level. It’s about connecting from a different perspective, asking what we are doing together, what our mutual purpose is, and how we can make a difference for ourselves, our children, and our community.

 

**Vince Vasquez speaking:**

In a long-term relationship, one of the main reasons for it is companionship. If you have deep connections day after day, year after year, that companionship becomes so deep and rich. On the other hand, if you stay disconnected and not present, you go 30 years without any connection. Who wants to live that way?

 

**Roni Maislish speaking:**

You can be 80 or 85 years old and still be a child from an emotional perspective. It’s not about the quantity of years but about how much you transition from survival mode to living your life. It’s a different path and a different language.

 

**Vince Vasquez speaking:**

In episode five, we’re going to talk about the role our friends and colleagues have on men’s identities. Thank you so much, Roni, and we’ll see you in the next episode

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