"I think it's very challenging to have a successful marriage, especially when you're two strong-willed people, people that have, you know, very busy careers that have you working all over the world," she told ABC News Radio two months before the couple's fifth anniversary in 2005. "You know, it requires a lot of teamwork and compromise and I consider that to be an accomplishment."
Compromise was clearly something Madonna had to learn. In 2004 she told ABC News Radio that marriage taught her that "giving in and compromising and saying you're sorry does not make you a weaker person and in fact it often gives you the upper hand in the long run and that's a big lesson to learn, especially for a selfish pop star like me."
Relationship writer Valerie Gibson, author of "Cougar: A Guide for Older Women Dating Younger Men," thinks the couple's age discrepancy had little to do with their breakup.
Ritchie strikes Gibson as "strong, dominant, bossy, intractable," qualities that may have been attractive to Madonna for a while, she said. "She's had her younger man thing, the bossy guy who spanks her," Gibson said. "Now feels she's ready for something else. She's bores easily."
But Gibson said she is pretty sure the next man will also be younger.
"She's a forever young type of woman," Gibson said. "She will always look good, be in great shape and attract younger men. She's 50 going on 30 and Ritchie's 40 going on 50. She's probably in every way younger than he is."
Gibson points to other cougar women who have had successful relationships with younger men. Susan Sarandon and Tim Robbins have been together nearly 20 years and raised three children despite their 12-year difference.
"They are obviously very well matched, equally successful and similar in nature and they have goals and principles that are the same," Gibson said.
Demi Moore and Ashton Kutcher also share common goals despite their 15-year age difference. "They do adore each other," Gibson said. "There's no question those people are in love."
Psychologist Dorothy Cantor said a big age gap does put "additional stress on a relationship." And for women who are older, there's not only the generational gap but the going against societal expectations.
"In addition to the real issue of we come from a different place, now you have the cultural reversal," Cantor said. "You're not looking up to the man. I think it's harder for an older woman with a younger man."