INSTITUTE: Mastering the Mysteries of Stepfamilies (MMS)

Why would I want to take this institute?
MMS adds crucial stepfamily information and research to the solid foundation of Bernard Guerney’s Relationship Enhancement Program (RE) that set the standard for marriage and relationship education for the past forty years.  Twenty-seven published research studies confirm that the 10 RE skills and coached couples dialogues can educate hearts and transform relationships.  MMS is based on the new, simplified Mastering the Mysteries of Love (MML) version of the RE program as developed by Mary Ortwein.

Mastering the Mysteries of Stepfamilies will prepare you to work with the approximately 50% of couples who experience the unique and overwhelming stresses of a stepfamily.  The curriculum can be used as it is written in a variety of class formats, or used in bite-sized chunks with individual couples in clinical or counseling sessions.  It is designed to strengthen the weakest link in a stepfamily, the couple relationship.  Good skills lay the foundation, but for many stepfamilies, good skills are not enough.  Realistic expectations about stepfamily dynamics and development and guidelines about how to navigate these more successfully help the skills work their magic.

Who should attend?
Anyone who wants a clearer understanding of stepfamily challenges and solutions.
Those who are certified to teach a Relationship Enhancement (RE) or Mastering the Mysteries of Love (MML) curriculum can benefit by adding MMS to their repertoire.  Stepcouples are especially encouraged to attend – although successfully taught by individuals, experienced stepcouples make a powerful teaching team. There is a $100 spouse discount.  Therapists will learn exercises to help couples integrate the concepts into their marriage and stepfamily.  Stepfamily couples with no interest in ever teaching, are welcomed to attend to strengthen their own family - they will benefit from guidelines for reducing conflict and building the success they envisioned when they married.

What will I be authorized to do when I complete the Institute?
You will be certified to teach the
Mastering the Mysteries of Stepfamilies – equipped, trained and certified to teach the full 23-hour MMS curriculum.

Clinicians, clergy and the public (couples or singles) can use the skills in their practice, ministry, and/or in their own families. Clinicians are authorized to use the material with clients. A Trainer of Trainers track is also available by which you can become certified to train MMS or MML instructors in your community. See website for information.

What are the prerequisites for attending this training?
There are no prerequisites for attending the Institute. 

What materials are included?
All attendees receive the MMS Leader’s Guide, a Participant’s Book, and the PowerPoints used in the curriculum. 

What have participants said about this training?
Participants report that they leave the training with a far better understanding of and compassion for stepfamily issues.  They appreciate having a comprehensive curriculum as well as powerful, clear modules that can be used with individual couples.  They report that the pacing is comfortable and Landrum’s teaching style is interesting, personal and compelling – that she includes many stories of her personal experience as a stepparent that reinforce the guidelines that research recommends.

What’s special about MMS?
An MMS class teaches all of the basic skills taught by RE/MML (
Showing Understanding/Empathy, Expression and Discussion) plus stepfamily issues regarding the marriage, the bio-parent-to-child bond, the step-parent/step-child relationship, supporting the child’s relationship with the other parent (Ex), parent to Ex relationship, safe boundaries, discipline issues, navigating changes in traditions and house rules, creating a stepfamily vision and seeing marriage education and support as an on-going process.  

About Nancy Landrum:
Nancy came to this project as an experienced stepparent. When she and her late husband, Jim, married, they were not only clueless about stepfamily dynamics, they were not equipped with good communication and conflict-resolution skills.  It was a recipe for disaster and, as often happens, conflicts began to dominate their relationship. Through trial and error, lots of hard work, and a long and agonizing journey for them and for their children, they eventually learned better skills and adjusted their expectations to fit stepfamily realities.  Nancy was inspired by the process to return to school for her Masters Degree – she decided that there had to be a way to help couples avoid what they’d been through. She and Jim went on to create and teach their own skills-based program, “How to Stay Married & Love It!” and in 2002 published a book by the same title.  In 2007 Nancy produced a DVD of the skits that she and Jim performed in their workshops that is now being used by marriage educators to supplement several different programs.  Nancy began teaching MML in 2006 and is certified as an MML Trainer of Trainers.  In late 2008, Mary Ortwein invited Nancy to adapt MML for use with stepfamilies.  The result is that the combination of RE skills and the realistic stepfamily practices that took Jim and Nancy several years to figure out is now available in one power-packed program: Mastering the Mysteries of Stepfamilies. 

Recommended format:
The Leaders Guide formats the curriculum to be delivered in one full Saturday or two half days plus six evenings.  Alternate formats are available.

For additional information about MMS or MML training visit:

Nancy Landrum
H: 714-282-1832
C: 714-931-3910

This institute is part of the week-long Smart Marriages conference.

Register for the Institute and the Conference: Click for Information on Conference Details, to download a conference brochure, REGISTER ONLINE, hotel & travel information & discounts, etc.

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