Nearly 40 percent of women have never been married and fewer are in their first marriage.  That's according to a new government report from the National Center for Health Statistics.  The percentage of women who were never married rose to 38 percent from 33 percent in 1995.

"There is a new definition for women in terms of a happy life,"  said Dr. Marin Tashman, Somerset-based Marriage and Family Counselor.  "It used to be that you were successful if you got married.  Now, that's not the case.  You can be successful if you have a good relationship with someone and you can be successful without having a regular partner.  More people are choosing to live together.  People also are in and out of relationships more often because they are focused on work."

The percentage of women in a first marriage declined to 36 percent from 44 percent in 1982.  "Culture is not dictating that you're an old maid at the age of 25," said Tashman.  "It's saying it's never too late and you can make more informed decisions.  Basically, people are getting smarter about it."