Every relationship has moments in time that make all the difference in which way the relationship goes. We either show up for ourselves or we don’t. We show up for our spouse or we don’t, and the consequences can be monumental.
In this episode, you’ll learn about “Sliding Door Moments” and how these small snippets in time often determine the direction of our lives. Once we can identify what those moments are (the ones where we self-betray and the ones where either we don’t show up the way we want to or our spouse does not show up for us), we can see what we have made those moments mean. Even more importantly, we can clearly see how those moments have shaped where our current relationships stand.
Only then can we course-correct, communicate more clearly and create the lives we want. Listen to this week’s episode to go deep into what your sliding door moments are and how you can heal them.
I’m Andrea Giles and you’re listening to the Heal From Infidelity podcast,
episode number 76, Sliding Door Moments.
Hello, and welcome to the Heel From Infidelity podcast where courageous
women learn not only to heal from their spouse’s betrayal, but to become
the boldest, truest, most decisive and confident versions of themselves
ever. If you know there’s more freedom than the life you’re currently
living, but don’t quite know how to get there, you are in the right place.
Stick around to learn how to create a life that will knock your own socks
off. Is it possible? It is and I’m here to show you how. I’m your host.
Andrea Giles. Are you ready? Let’s dive in.
Hello everybody. I hope you’re all doing well. I’m happy to be here today
as usual recording another podcast, episode number 76. So I am going to go
ahead and jump in. I am going to talk to day about a term called “sliding
door moments.” Okay? This term was coined after a 1998 film starring
Gwyneth Paltrow called Sliding Doors where the whole movie shows two
alternate realities. Okay? Two alternate sin scenarios. So the beginning of
the movie, she goes to work and is a little bit late to work and she gets
fired. Okay? And then the whole rest of the movie hinges on what happens
next, which is, does she make the train or does she not make the train?
Okay. And it shows the outcome that happens when she does make the train
and it shows the outcome when she does not. Okay?
These are little small, sometimes inconsequential moments in time. They
might not seem like a big deal, but they have a ripple effect. Okay? In
this movie, it shows how this one moment affects what happens for the next
several years for her. But what I’m going to talk about today is how these
sliding door moments affect our relationships and how they have big effects
in our relationships over time. Okay? I’m going to talk about different
types of sliding doors, different types of ways that this can affect us.
What we can learn from them and how to move forward with what we learn.
So first, I want to talk about our own personal sliding doors where we give
away our power and give some examples of what that looks like. Then I’m
going to talk about how we do this as couples in relationships and the
impact it can have. And lastly, I’m going to talk about what to do with
this information moving forward.
So first, let’s talk about you. You have probably heard me say before that
to truly heal and move forward, we must identify what happened and how we
can strengthen ourselves. Okay? How to tell the story in a way that serves
us rather than hurts us. Not to punish or shame ourselves, but to see
clearly and to use that information to move forward. With every single
client that I have worked with, they can identify times in their
relationship where they gave their own personal power and authority away to
their spouse and it ended up not working well for them. Okay?
I’m going to give you an example from my own life. When I was married to my
first husband, I came across something, I’m going to leave details out, but
I came across something that I learned that he was involved in. And when I
talked to him about it, I knew that I was being lied to. I knew it. And it
was one excuse and then another excuse and then another excuse and then
finally, when I stood my ground and knew just kept saying I want the truth,
I want the truth, I want to know what’s true, it got turned around in a
classic gaslighting type of way and it shut me down.
It was, well, of course, you’re going to accuse me of this, things like
that. And it shut me down. It hit this nerve in me of, oh, am I being mean?
Am I being false? Am I being wrong? Am I questioning myself? I remember in
the moment starting to doubt myself. Okay? In that moment, I gave my own
power and the authority over to him rather than standing with myself. Even
though I knew what I had seen, I knew that it didn’t feel settled, but
basically what I did is, I believed his lie more than I believed my truth.
I gave more credit to that. Okay?
So let’s see what I could learn from that. First, I could learn to stand
with myself. I could learn to believe myself first, to have some
understanding of manipulation tactics, educate myself. To know that when my
brain starts to slip into shame or guilt, I can ask myself why I’m going
there and learn from it. I can have a plan for when something like this
happens again in the future. Okay?
So go with me for a minute while I talk about an idea that I had when I was
preparing this episode. Okay? Some of you listening have children, some of
you have teenage children. And some advice that I have heard many times to
use with teenagers is to have a code word. And what that means is that
let’s say your kids to a party, they can call you and they can use some
random word like cheese or anything, any word to tell you that they need
you to come get them. Okay? For them to say this code word, it means I need
you to come get me. You don’t ask questions, you don’t ask what they’re up
to. It’s just a done deal. You will go get them. Okay?
Now, what I’m thinking is, you can have your own code, word of sorts. Okay?
And what that looks like is when you feel your body start to slip in that
place where you start to doubt yourself, you can have some check in with
yourself where you understand that what that means is, I’m giving myself
from this conversation and I would like to talk about it again tomorrow.
Okay? It’s a deal or a commitment that you make with yourself of how you’ll
honor yourself in that moment.
So back to the example with a teenager. Part of the deal is, we don’t get
to drill them and be like what are you doing? Why did you do that? I’ve
told you not to do that. We are going to get them period. We are bringing
them to safety. Period. Doesn’t mean you can’t discuss the situation. But
part of the agreement is that there’s no shaming allowed. We’re not shaming
our children. It’s the same with ourselves. Okay?
If we notice ourselves starting to slip into familiar patterns, you can
make a deal with yourself, your own code word per se, for safety. Okay? I’m
starting to question my stuff. I’m starting to doubt. I’m going to shelf
this right this second, get grounded back into myself and come back to it.
And you can end the conversation until you feel ready to go back into it.
Okay? You can end the discussion at any time. Many of have probably
experienced things just like this. And rather than beating yourself up for
taking the bait, there’s an opportunity here to learn from yourself and to
commit to staying true to yourself. You can evaluate and assess, but it’s
from a place of love, not self-judgment. Okay?
Also, one of the things that I am currently working through is early on in
my marriage to my current spouse, there are some things that were handled
in certain ways with each other and with blending our families that are now
biting us in the butt. And so I am doing this work myself. Where have I
allow people to be disrespectful? Where have I allowed different behaviors
that I’m actually not okay with? And where did I second guess myself and
let somebody else be the authority. And so this is an ongoing thing as we
continue to grow and learn. So I’m just saying that to say, it’s okay to be
where you are. You’re right where you need to be. And even though I
personally have done so much work in the last several years to grow, I’m
still learning just like you dealing with some of this right now in my
All right. Next, I want to talk about sliding door moments as couples. So
Sue Nelson is an amazing therapist and she’s an author and she wrote a book
called Hold Me Tight. It’s an excellent book. I love it. In it, she talks
about moments where we miss an opportunity to connect and how that can lead
to major hurts in the marriage. She talks about these little moments and
how it might seem insignificant to one person. They might not see that this
is a significant moment and they handle it in a certain way and the other
person is deeply hurt by it. That has a ripple effect because the person
who is hurt might decide that it’s not safe in that marriage and they might
shut down. Okay? Especially if they don’t talk about it.
I’m going to read you a quote from her book. “For all of us, the person we
love most in the world, the one who can send us soaring, joyfully into
space is also the person who can send us crashing back to earth. All it
takes is a slight turning away of the head or a flippant careless remark.
There’s no closeness without this sensitivity. If our connection with our
mate is safe and strong, we can deal with these moments of sensitivity.
Indeed, we can use them to bring our partner even closer. But when we don’t
feel safe and connected, these moments are like a spark and a tender
forest. They set fire to the whole relationship.”
Okay. So like she says how we handle these moments depends a lot on the
level of safety that is already established. Okay? So if you already have a
really solid foundation, some of these moments can be corrected pretty
quickly, but if it’s already shaky and there’s not a solid foundation,
these moments can burn the whole thing down. Okay? Oh, she gives one
example I want to share. One of the examples that she gives is about a
spouse who finds out about her husband’s infidelity. And instead of being
with her while she cries, he leaves her alone. Okay? He leaves her alone
while she cries.
Now, his intent may not be malicious at all. But if she does not
communicate how much that hurt, she may carry resentment. So the first
sliding door moment, maybe he did not stay with me when I found out he was
having an affair. And a second one, maybe her not communicating her hurt to
him, or for her desire for him to day in the first place saying, “Can you
stay with me?” Because of this, she made assumptions about him that he
didn’t care, that he didn’t want to be with her in that moment. And so she
put up a wall and blocked him out. She stopped trying altogether. She
believed that he is uncaring. And in addition to the hurt of the
infidelity, she believed that he was uncaring about her feelings after it.
He came to believe that she was cold and heartened because of his
infidelity. When in reality it was because he did not support her the way
she needed it when she was in pain. So although the infidelity was a huge
blow to the marriage, the real nail in the coffin was turning away from
each other rather than turning toward each other and they both contributed
to that. Okay?
In my own marriage, there have been hurts from when my husband was not
there for me. Sometimes because he was not emotionally available when we
were, I’ve talked about dating before he was ready or because he just
didn’t know or understand what I was asking for. And I have lacked skills
at times to articulate what it is that I want. As I grow in my capacity to
express what I need and what I want, our marriage grows exponentially. And
he in turn has to do the same thing. He has to be willing to turn towards
me for me to feel safe, but sometimes he just doesn’t really know or
understand what it is I’m asking for. So the more that I can understand
myself, look at myself and know the things that I need and then make
requests of those things, the easier it is for him to fill those requests
and our relationship grows and vice versa. Okay?
I want you to hear me on this point. It is an individual person’s
obligation and responsibility to identify what their needs are and to
express them. Okay? This is a little bit of a tangent, but one of the
things that I see a lot in my clients is they tell me that their spouse
blames them for not giving them X, Y, and Z. You this, you that. I needed
this. You didn’t do that. Okay. The problem with this, the big problem with
this is that for the most part, my clients were 100% willing to give X, Y,
and Z, but they just did not know that it is what they wanted because it
was never communicated to them.
So what happened is their spouses became resentful, became full of
contempt. And when they had this opportunity presented to them where
somebody was showering them with validation, telling them how wonderful
they were, they took the bait. The responsibility was always theirs to go
and say, “This is what I need. This is what I want. This is what I need.
This is my request.” Okay? Now, how that is responded to is important. But
the initial communication of what it is we need is each individual’s
responsibility. Okay? Most of us are willing to meet the requests of our
partners, but if we don’t know what those requests are, it’s on us. It’s on
us to communicate those things. Okay?
Okay. Now, back to what I was originally talking about. Okay. A very
popular marriage therapist, many of you have probably heard of him, Dr.
John Gottman. He’s a therapist, an author, an instructor. He’s done a lot
of things. Anyway, he talks about bids in marriages. Bids are where we lean
in towards somebody, wanting attention and connection from them. And our
bid is our way of asking for that. This can look like telling your partner
that you had a rough day at work and that your boss was really irritating,
or it can look like crying, or it can look like sharing something that
someone said to you that was hurtful. Not necessarily hurtful. It can just
be sharing thing with your partner. These are bids and there are numerous,
numerous and countless ways that we can make bids towards our partner.
Now, each time we make a bid, we are asking for connection. We’re asking
for a connection. We’re asking for a response. And each time we have the
opportunity to either respond to that bid or not. Okay? In preparing this
episode, I came across an example that Dr. Gottman gave of something that
happened in his own marriage. He said he was reading a murder novel like a
mystery. And he got to the part where he was pretty sure he knew who done
it and he was so excited to get done with the day’s responsibilities so
that he could go and finish his book.
And he went to the bathroom to brush his teeth and get ready for bed, to go
finish his book. And he saw his wife combing her hair in the mirror and she
looked sad and he saw it. He saw that she looked sad and he thought, “Oh, I
really don’t want to deal with my wife being sad right now. I would rather
go read my book.” But he recognized that this is one of those moments. This
was one of those sliding door moments where he could either increase their
trust, increase their connection or turn away. And he decided to take the
brush out of her hand and brush her hair and ask her why she was sad. “So
you look sad. Why are you sad?” Okay?
Now, we all have times where we don’t acknowledge the bids where we do
something else instead. Okay? But when it becomes a habit, trust starts to
erode. This is where resentment comes in. This is where things blow up and
get tough. Okay? Now, you throw in the breach of trust that is infidelity,
and it is crucial to lean into those bits. This is how trust is rebuilt.
Okay? The partner has to know that they’re there for each other. This is
the only way to establish a healthy bond and connection.
I want to make a point that even though some of you may already be
divorced, or some of you might be thinking about getting divorced, this is
really important anywhere you are because we all have these sliding door
moments. We all have them in our marriages. Sometimes even before we’re
married where we go into our marriages with certain beliefs and behaviors
because of something that happened before. Okay? We maybe have times where
we have missed each other, where our bids were missed or where resentment
came in rather than open communication and love. The more we can understand
this, the more we can be honest and truthful and the more power we have to
correct it. Even if it can be initially paid, it really is very empowering
because we can learn and see where we have been hurt and where we may have
Okay. So now let’s talk about what to do with this information. I’ve
touched a little bit on it throughout this podcast, but I want to dive into
it a little more. Now, if you are still married and want to stay married,
it will be very helpful for you to communicate with your spouse what you
have learned here and maybe ask your spouse some of the moments where they
may have felt dismissed or moments where they did not feel seen and
identify for both of you how you can help each other. Okay?
My husband and I have been talking a lot lately about things that we’re
working through. And he communicated to me recently something that I said
probably like two or three years ago. That was really hurtful to him and he
made assumptions about what I said. So I said the initial thing and then he
made it mean some things were really, really hurtful. Now, like two or
three years later, he told me about it. And I was able to communicate to
him what I actually meant and it’s resolved. But in the meantime, there was
a part of him that felt like he had to keep his guard up around that topic
and not be completely open to me and now I know why. Now I know and things
are cleared up and we can heal in that space and move forward on that
issue. This can be available to you. And the more that you communicate what
happened in those moments, the more you’re able to protect yourself and the
future growth of your relationship.
Now, like I said earlier, it doesn’t matter if you are currently divorced,
if you’re currently thinking about divorce, or if you’re currently
rebuilding your marriage. This is applicable all the way. Okay? It’s
applicable because the more that you can identify those sliding door
moments, you will learn from them and not repeat the same patterns. Okay?
As I have prepared this episode, I’ve gone all the way back to childhood in
teenage years and early adult years where I self betrayed. Those were
sliding door moments for me where I listen to other people over my own
intuition and over my own voice. Where I knew things to be true in my gut
and listen sometimes to other people over myself. Okay? This is important
work and I invite you to spend some time doing this so that in the future,
you can walk through the doors that will lead you to the relationship that
you want. The most important is one is the one with yourself. That’s the
most important one. If we can mend those moments with ourself, maybe those
the moments of regret, moments of sadness where we’re I only wish I
would’ve done this. Okay? Awareness. Let’s find those moments where maybe
we did self-betray and heal ourselves and show ourselves so much grace and
mercy and learn from them. Okay?
As the great poet Robert Frost said in the poem The Road Not Taken, I’m not
going to read the whole poem, but the very last bit, he said, “Two roads
diverged in a wood, and I took the one less traveled by, and that has made
all the difference.” Okay? We always have choices. We always have choices.
We have these sliding doors. We have these moments in time where we can go
through one door and have this outcome go through the other door and have
another. Okay? I want you to find what doors you have gone through. I want
you to look and see the moments that you have been hurt, where you have
made bids, where you have asked for things and not had those things met and
what you have made those things mean.
If you’re in a position where you can communicate those things, I invite
you to do so if you and your spouse are working on your relationship. Okay?
Go find those moments. One more quick thing is I invite you to look at
moments for those of you that are parents, where your relationships with
your kids have shifted and changed, and maybe find the moments where maybe
a kid expressed a need or didn’t know how to express a need and we didn’t
know that, and where maybe some damage was done. Okay?
I want you to look at all of your relationships. This is all about learning
and growth. I’m doing the same thing and looking and seeing where I can
course correct and choose things that will take me to places that I really
want to be. And that’s what I want for you as well. I want you to find the
areas where you self-betrayed, and I want you to find the moments where
your partner was not there for you and what you made it mean in that moment
and what you did when you followed up with that, how you showed up. Okay? I
appreciate you being here. I hope that you find this helpful. And I will be
back next week with another episode. Take care.
Thank you for listening to the Heal From Infidelity podcast. If you would
like to be kept in the know about upcoming free classes, new podcast
episodes and other ways of working with me, go subscribe to my weekly
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it’s andreagiles.com/lies-about-infidelity/. I will see you next time.