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Mira Kirshenbaum, therapist and author of The Weekend Marriage, says, ‘A number of powerful forces have come together to push married women into leading single lives.

First, we marry later – the average age is 29.9 for women, whereas 40 years ago, it was 23.

We’re all familiar with the man who won’t let marriage stop him being ‘one of the lads’ – now it seems an increasing number of married women are guilty of holding on a little too tightly to their single lifestyles.

While past generations of married women refocused their lives to spend time as a couple, rather than planning weekends away with their friends, today, a newly married 20- or 30-something expects her former life to survive intact – which means regular nights out with the girls, spending hours on the phone to them, lunch with them on Saturdays, spa weekends away…and woe betide the husband who does object.

One couple in four leaves just ten minutes a day to talk.

‘Each day, I look after the children, do the drudgery, the park, the playgroups… ‘Women are educated, they have jobs, they are independent.

If I had to stay at home when they’d gone to bed, I’d crack up. The evenings are my time to catch up with them.’Karen’s friends are aware of Paul’s objections. But you lose a lot by not being part of a close team.

A fascinating study from the US, Alone Together: How Marriage in America is Changing, compared two national surveys of married life, one from 1980 and the other from 2000.

In 1980, 53 per cent of couples said they almost always socialised together, and 62 per cent shared leisure activities.

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