Courtney Thornton, 25, is just a southern girl from Georgia trying to find her way in life.
So far, she’s doing a pretty amazing job.
She works as a marketing freelancer and photographer and is currently enjoying married life with her husband, Vann.
They tied the knot on June 18, 2016, after falling madly in love when they were least expecting it.
“We started talking over Facebook, and it was just playful banter,” she says. “Then, I got really interested. We decided to work on a (music-related) project together, and from there, it turned from business to more of a friendship.”
Once it was clear that Vann and Courtney had feelings for one another, they discussed pursuing a romantic relationship – and immediately, they put the “elephant in the room” right on the table.
Vann is 57 years old – more than twice his wife’s age.
“Do you know how old I am?” he asked her.
She did – and it didn’t matter in the least bit. There were, however, some major issues they wanted to discuss.
“We talked about having kids,” Courtney says. “And that wasn’t a problem because I don’t want any, and he already has four sons from his previous marriage.”
Three of Vann’s children are actually older than Courtney, which, to some people, may sound odd – but for this relationship, it’s completely normal.
“I’m their stepmom, but it’s not that type of dynamic,” she explains. “They are grown, and I consider them my family. They have my back, and we want the best for each other. They are like my older brothers, in a way. It just works out.”
Before committing to forever, the couple also discussed plans for their future. Vann is a music teacher, retiring next year, and Courtney is just starting her career.
“Do our end games line up?” she asked herself. “And they do. He will have freedom to move anywhere, and he’s ready to fully support me in my career. I was his hype man for the last couple years, and he’s ready to be my hype man for the rest of our lives.”
Courtney says that, while Vann’s family was supportive from the start, she was hesitant to talk to her parents about the relationship for fear of their reaction.
“But they were cool about it,” she says. “They were fine, as a long as I was happy, taken care of, and respected. They basically said, if you love each other, then why not? There’s no rule against it.”
Recently, the couple’s relationship gained international attention after Courtney posted a photo gushing over her man.
“I tweeted one of our wedding pictures with the caption, ‘God, I love my husband,’ because like any girl, I am proud to show off my man on social media,” she explains. “Then, another Twitter account picked up my tweet with the caption, ‘Doing anything to pay for college,’ and it just kind of blew up from there.”
News outlets caught wind of the situation and started reaching out for interviews. Things kept snowballing from there, and the couple has even created a trending hash tag, #husbandnotdad.
“We get it,” Courtney says. “It’s weird. If we saw a couple like us on the street, we would do a double take because it’s not something you see every day. But most people are very supportive, some girls can relate, and a lot of people ask me for advice.”
So, what does she have to say to other people in her shoes?
“I am just honest,” she explains. “A situation like this is not always going to work out. I wouldn’t recommend getting into an age-gap relationship just to get into one, but if the risk pays off, it’s great. Just know what you’re getting into and what could happen. Talk to your family, tell them you’re happy, loved and supported. I think, at the end of the day, all parents really want that.”
Courtney, who calls herself an “old soul,” says that nobody can make her laugh like Vann – and it helps that he is young at heart.
Here's to a lifetime of love and laughter!