We do not do that to acquaintances or strangers but yet we do that to our spouses, children, parents, brothers, sisters and our closest relations. Two words to address this phenomenon: Attachment and Expectations.
When we are married, we are connected by marriage and attachment to our spouses became a way of life. We live under the same roof and see that my special someone is now mine. With that, we suddenly have a whole lot of expectations of our spouses. She/he must pamper me, must do this and that. If they do not meet our expectations, we start to nag, quarrel, say the meanest and hurtful words, slam doors or give a cold shoulder.
The same can be said of our blood relations, our parents, our children, our brothers and sisters, etc. In this case, we did not choose our parents, children, etc. They are just there. We hurt them without thinking of our actions. Expectations play an important part in our relations. We expect our children to listen to us, to carry out our instructions and our quirks. We expect our parents to continue to pamper us as if we are still young. When hurting them, we cannot remove the fact that we are connected by blood. We cannot assume that they do not exist.
If we are able to remove attachment to our closest ones, treat them as cordially as we can like meeting them for the first time as strangers, we could co-exist harmoniously. Treat our spouses as our first dates always, what wonderful feelings would that be! Set no expectations of them and there is a reduction of “not meeting expectations kind of feelings”.
This is work in progress and a constant reminder to me. I heard that at a talk last night given by Venerable Thubten Chodron and I am reminded again of this wise advice.