Nearly half (47%) of couples having children now have them before getting married, according to Relate, compared with just 4% when the charity started 75 years ago, in 1938.

Other changes noted by Relate are:

o The number of divorces was 6250 in 1938 and more than 152,000 in 1988, fifty years later. Since then the number has dropped steadily, to 117,000 in 2011.

o Age at first marriage has changed over the years, being 26.5 for men and 24.3 for women in 1938. This dropped slowly over the forty years to 1978, to 23.8 for men and 21.6 for women. Since then the figure has climbed to reach, in 2010, 30.8 for men and 29 for women.

o The average age of couples when they have their first child has risen a little – 25.9 in 1938, 26.3 in 1998 and 27.9 in 2011.

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