Women are more independent than they used to be and many can support themselves.

That’s just one of the reasons nearly 40 percent have never been married and fewer are in a first marriage. Data from the National Center for Health Statistics finds the percentage of women who never married rose to 38 percent from 33 percent in 1995. The percentage of women in first marriages declined to 36 percent from 44 percent in 1982.

“Marriage no longer defines success,” said Somerset-based Marriage and Family Counselor Dr. Martin Tashman. “You can be successful if you have a good relationship and you can be successful without having a regular partner. More people are opting to live together as well and that’s ok.”

“Culture is no longer dictating that you’re an old maid at the ripe old age of 25,” said Tashman. “So, people are getting smarter these days. Women are realizing that they don’t have to rush to get married. They can concentrate on their work and careers and take their time.”

“Fewer people are involved with religious organizations and the belief that they have to be married and that tradition is not as strong as it used to be,” said Tashman. “I see people all the time who are not married, but they have children, and they don’t even feel compelled to get married. There’s not the same social pressure. As a result, people are cohabiting or they have more casual relationships.”