Families are strengthened when individuals show concern, love, and support by their words and actions; on the flip side, families are destroyed when negative thoughts and feelings come out in negative words and actions. No word is spoken and no action is taken until after a thought has first entered the mind. In order to have loving words and loving actions, we must first have loving thoughts.
Righteous King Benjamin taught his people, "But this much I can tell you, that if ye do not watch yourselves, and your thoughts, and your words, and your deeds, and observe the commandments of God, and continue in the faith of what ye have heard concerning the coming of our Lord, even unto the end of your lives, ye must perish...." (Mosiah 4:30).
The Lord commanded His followers in the Doctrine and Covenants, "Thou shalt live together in love" (42:45) and "See that ye love one another…." (88:123). President Gordon B. Hinckley counseled, "God has brought us together as families to bring to pass His eternal purposes. We are part of this plan in this marriage relationship. Let us love and respect and honor one another. We can do it, and we will be the better for it" (Stand A Little Taller, 12). He also said, "True love is not so much a matter of romance as it is a matter of anxious concern for the well-being of one's companion" (p 47).
Love is best learned and nurtured in families. Since parents are the core of the family, we should demonstrate our love for each other by the words we speak and the actions we perform. The children will follow whatever example the parents set, whether consciously or unconsciously. If the parental example is a worthy one, the children are fortunate. If the parental example requires improvement, the children need to consciously develop a different way of speaking or acting.
I had the opportunity recently to spend several weeks in the home of my daughter and her husband as they welcomed their new baby and prepared for a move to another state. I was in awe as I watched Jimmy in his role of husband and father and assumed that he had learned by watching his own father in those roles. Even though Jimmy was working long hours each day - sometimes as many as fourteen or fifteen hours - when he returned home he was always in good spirits and took an active part in whatever needed to be done. He seemed to immediately sense what needed his attention, and he did it. If the laundry wasn't quite finished, he pitched right in to help - whether it was carrying baskets of clothing or folding clothes and putting them away. If it was time for Benson to go to bed, Jimmy was right there to change him or bathe him or read to him. He even brought dessert to Sue and I one night when he could tell we were really tired. One night Jimmy returned home even later than the usual late hour - about 11:00. Sue and I had been packing boxes for several days and were getting exhausted. Jimmy changed his clothes and packed several boxes before going to bed about midnight. He showed by his words and actions that he truly loves Sue and the children.
I am a fortunate woman because all of my sons - by birth or marriage - lead their families with authority and treat their wives and children with respect and love. Their families grow stronger as they continue to love and support their families with kind words and actions.