Finding the ideal husband is all in the power of your mind
NLP practitioner Bentley Browning tests our reporter’s imagination with his Find a Husband class
As I sit down to my session of How to Find a Husband, devised by neuro-linguistic programming (NLP) practitioner Bentley Browning, my head is full of questions. The first one, though, has to be: Why is there no How to Find a Wife course? Well, it turns out there actually is but Browning, who lives in Gospel Oak, is focusing on this one for the moment. “Women seem to be more open to experiences like these and targeting what they want. Although I have had a lot of men ask me, ‘How do I find the ideal wife?’”
The publicity material for the five-week course is intriguing. Capital letters scream out “How to Find a Husband ... who is right for you”. They frame a picture of an attractive couple kissing romantically. “Yuk”, I think as my eye scans a list of leading subtitles that give a hint of what is on offer. Some are self-explanatory: “Think like a bride” and “Becoming Marriage Material”, but I find myself wondering: “What is the White Triangle? What’s the Loved-up Line?” (A follow-up question is: “I’m 24 – do I even want a husband?”)
Browning runs this course in two London locations, one of which is his home. Surrounded by a sea of diagrams, he introduces me to the idea of the course. “This is not about how you should act when you meet a potential partner, or where you should go to meet them or any quick fix. This is about releasing your power of imagination, projecting the real you and giving out your locked-away charisma. What you give out, you get back.” It seems finding the love of your life, on this course at least, is more of the school of Paul McKenna than Bridget Jones.
My not really wanting a husband isn’t actually that much of an obstacle, Browning insists. “These exercises will help you to become a more attractive person generally. You will be more attractive to most people after the session.” Well, who could say no to that?
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Browning asks a lot of questions: Are you ready for love with someone? What makes you a catch? Are you holding onto past problems? Have you had a boyfriend? I answer them all, with a red face, glad that he’s not the one writing this article. “In a group session, we play the compliment game,” Browning beams. “Someone in the circle pays a compliment to you and you reply: ‘I know’,” he says before saying: “Rhiannon, you are a really fun person to be around”, to which I reply: “I know.” How lovely this is.
With what feels like a warm-up done, the power of my imagination is released. Before I know it I’m doing all manner of things I may have thought to be silly beforehand, and doing them readily. I write a short love letter to my future, nameless husband (who I’m still not sure I want). I admit it is idealistic: I don’t ask him to do the garden or pick up his dirty pants and if watching BBC sitcoms is anything to go by, this is par for the course usually. The whole thing feels silly but good. Browning attempts an explanation: “We don’t often do things like this in normal life. It’s not really permissible is it? Yet it allows us to explore things, explore who we are and what we want. It also makes people very excited, to think about their future.”
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I also have an encounter with “the White Triangle”. I stand on a piece of paper and imagine all the positive words on the paper beaming up, as if through a prism, with the help of Browning. “I’m being hypnotised”, I think, before shutting my eyes and telling Browning all about my new husband, who I met at a garden party (I know, I didn’t even want one at the start) and who works in advertising (what?). It seems my susceptibility has overtaken any cynicism I may have had at the start – I genuinely feel overjoyed as I step out of my imaginary prism of marriage to a tall dark and handsome ad-man and back into Gospel Oak.
Browning, who also runs the How To Find Love in Five Weeks course, has picked out the best bits of NLP, hypnosis and self-help and combined them, it seems. He has success stories, including former client Simone Pitchon, who found a husband and with whom he is now writing a book on the topic. “It’s half manual, half novella – it’s a manuella.” I can see how he is successful – the course seems to be less about marriage and more of a confidence booster with a themed approach. It’s nice to be in a cynic-free bubble for a while.
Before I go he offers me one last thing: The Love Pill. It looks, tastes and smells just like a Tic Tac. “Don’t say what you think it is like,” says Browning. “Because it may be similar to something else you have seen before but actually this is the Love Pill that will help you to become the new you and unlock your charisma. As you take it, I want you to think about you as a strong and beautiful person and how you are amazingly attractive to everyone around you.” I engage my imagination one last time and swallow the pill. Is it the Love Pill or just a two-calorie mint? It seems that is up to me.
How to Find a Husband runs at The Festival Hall, South Bank on Monday, September 3, at 7pm, priced �35, and at Waxham, Mansfield Road, on September 15 at 10am, �30. Find out more at www.bentleybrowning.com