Too young to marry

She’s barely old enough for a driver’s license, but 16-year-old Courtney Alexis Stodden has decided she’s also old enough to be a wife.

This young (very young!) aspiring country singer recently became the blushing bride of actor Doug Anthony Hutchison, age 51.

I’ll save you the trouble of frantically adding the numbers in your head: That makes him 35 years her senior.

May-December romances aren’t anything new in Hollywood. That glittering town creates and destroys relationships on a daily basis, the most recent being the split of Hugh Hefner, age 85, and ex-fiance Crystal Harris, age 25. That girl skipped right over her age group AND her father’s and went straight for the iconic silver fox himself who has somehow managed to never let age play a factor in the sunset of his life.

And, of course, there’s Ashton Kutcher, age 33, and Demi Moore, age 48, and their bizarre 15-year age span, with her being the “senior” member of the couple.

Now I’m not necessarily questioning the validity of the relationship or whether or not they are “in love” (I’m dry-heaving over my computer as I type this), but it’s not only the age difference that could and most likely will pose a hazard for such relationships. Hutchison and Stodden grew up in completely different eras; therefore, there is a huge cultural gap as well. And “love” doesn’t always do a good job at filling in those gaps.

I feel sorry that this young woman will miss out on some great youthful experiences and self-discovery that come with still being 16 and single. Like … dating, for example. Or learning to drive with your friends. Or choosing which college to attend, how to prank your roommates, late-night Denny’s trips, making mistakes and learning from them, or simply the beauty and gift of innocence.

One person made a great point on People.com about what age Stodden was when the couple began dating. Typically you have to have SOME sort of shallow-water relationship established (even in Hollywood!) before you make the marriage plunge, which means Stodden could have been around age 15 – possibly younger? – when the two began seeing each other.

That. Is. So. Wrong.

And could have been illegal, if she hadn’t allegedly remained a virgin until the wedding night.

I’d really like to ask her parents what they were thinking, giving their mandatory parental consent for their daughter to wed such a very older man, but it turns out I don’t have to. According to RadarOnline.com, mom Krista Stodden states that they are “totally supportive of this marriage. Doug is a wonderful man, and we love him.”

Dad’s opinion? “Every father can only pray to have such a man behind their daughter. Courtney is one of the most level-headed girls out there, and I’m not just saying that because she’s my daughter. … Doug is the nicest man I ‘ve ever met in my life.”

He failed to add, “We also get our routine colon cancer screenings done together and get our grey hairs dyed at the same salon.”

Just kidding.

Hutchison has recently issued a statement through the couple’s spokeswoman that sounds something like this:

“We’re aware that our vast age difference is extremely controversial, but we’re very much in love and want to get the message out there that true love can be ageless.”

So maybe it really is true love … or at least the media boost Stodden needed to get her music career off the ground.

If you were close to Courtney Alexis Stodden, would you have encouraged or discouraged her to marry so young? Do you think age is “just a number” when it comes to finding love?

Carmen Rasmusen Herbert is a country singer, writer and mother. She writes a weekly entertainment column for the Deseret News titled “Carmen’s Voice” and a bi-monthly music column titled “What I Love About…”

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