HOW A SOLO TRAVEL TO JAPAN SAVED A MARRIAGE…

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…AND THE BOOK THAT BROUGHT ON THE DIVORCE.

By Michael Jason Sherman, MA

Our marriage was different. We were a classic case of the couple that would find a way to make it. We were a tribute to all that was right and honest and positive about a young, American marriage. We were chock full of the kind of hope and true grit that a marriage needed to survive.

Nothing would stop our mutual determination to heal and recover from our lost childhoods. Except ourselves.

We ripped each other’s hearts out with delirious fighting, grueling battles of dueling rivals trying to outclass the other with our need to play the role of victim, our right to always be right, and our desire to kick the other out of the sandbox of happiness.

“You’re ruining my life.”

“You’re making me insane.”

This was the typical discourse in our marriage. Dinner table, car ride, date-night, therapy office. Words were our weapons.

My wife was teetering on the cutting edge of this snarling beast of a partnership. She brutally understood the make or break nature of the moment. “I want a baby,” she said. “You’re either in this with me or you’re out.”

I could see in her eyes that she meant business. At the age of thirty-nine, her biological clock was roaring like a lion, and her frustration level was at a boiling point.

crying manShe had no more time to hear my complaints about being a middle-school teacher, my desire to be a great American writer, my anxiety and identity confusion, my anger and bitterness over my father’s schizophrenic suicide, and my queasy embarrassment about our infertility and the failure of expensive treatments to insert an embryo (or four) into her uterus. The decision about the marriage was mine to make alone.

Adopt a child with this woman or get divorced.

Frozen. Lost. Overwhelmed.

“I need to go somewhere,” I announced.

I played with the internet travel sites for days, addicted to the possibility that Solo Travel could somehow bring about an awakening that would propel me towards a solution. I needed to go somewhere far, far away—somewhere safe enough to get around, but weird enough to feel like an alien visiting another planet.

California? Too easy.

Jamaica? Too stoned.

France? Too French.

It was clear that I needed to visit a place that would spiritually immerse me in the ways of the Force—like Luke Skywalker learning from Yoda—a place that would soothe my body like the sweetest medicine and reboot my out-of-control mind by spinning it into some kind of normal and potentially grown-up orbit.

I was called to take a trip that would rescue me, a journey that would end this nightmare and restore order to the promise of marriage and the American Dream itself.daibutsu

I chose Japan.

Land of sushi, sake and samurai. Land of bullet trains, baseball turfs and Buddhist Temples. Land of Aikido, Bushido and Hello Kitty. Land of vending machines, video games and all-night Karaoke bars. The perfect place for a soul to get lost for a little pocket of time. No wife. No marriage. Bought the ticket. Took the ride.

Ten Days. Solo Travel. Man-trip.

Something happened there. Something wonderful.

I suggest you find out for yourself.

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