Nearly one in two first marriages last twenty years or more. That’s according to new data from the National Center for Health Statistics.

1995 data found that 50 percent of all women’s first marriages survived. The new data show that 52 percent of women’s first marriages survived the 20-year mark. Among men, 56 percent of marriages did.

This comes as no surprise to Dr. Martin Tashman, Somerset-based Marriage and Family Counselor. “There is no compulsion to stay married any more. Women are more independent and those who are single are more able to take care of themselves so they don’t feel compelled to be married. If a relationship is painful, they no longer feel trapped or that they have to stay in it like they would have years ago.”

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The expectations surrounding marriage have changed as well. “Women are looking to be treated more as equals. They want to know about finances. They want to spend time with their partners and talk and share with one another. You can no longer be married in name only,” said Tashman.

“It used to be that people were involved in the business of marriage which meant you took care of the kids, you took care of the finances, did the shopping, etc. If you were good business people and you did all the right things, then you should be happy,” said Tashman. “Now, it’s much more than the mechanics of the marriage, but the feeling of the marriage. It’s a great shift. I think that’s why people have affairs because they just ignore the marriage and they take it for granted.”