After a string of failed relationships Madonna appears to have finally met her match in British director Guy Ritchie, the man whose apparent lack of interest made her fall for him.

When they first met two years ago, at a dinner party hosted by Sting's wife Trudie Styler, Guy refused to become the adoring toy boy — instead making the star idolized worldwide chase after him.

He has always refused to play lapdog to Madonna, nearly 11 years his senior, and gently puts her in place by calling her "The Missus." Now the divorced woman who bitterly called marriage a "silly, outdated institution" is doing it all over again.

Madonna wanted to settle down and have children for many years but had to watch from the sidelines as former lovers went on to find happiness without her. Ex-husband Sean Penn fell in love on set with Robin Wright and the married couple have two children. Eternal bachelor Warren Beatty married Bugsy co-star Annette Bening a year after splitting up with Madonna, and has since had four children.

Madonna the Nun?

Madonna found love for a while with fitness trainer Carlos Leon but they split up after daughter Lourdes, now four, was born. Lourdes was named in tribute to Madonna's highly religious mother, who died of cancer when Madonna was six and before she fulfilled a dream of visiting Lourdes in France, where the Virgin Mary is said to have appeared in the 19th century.

Madonna Louise Veronica Ciccone was born in August 1958 in Michigan to a strict Italian Catholic family, the eldest daughter and third of eight children. "How could I have been anything else but what I am, having been named Madonna? I would either have ended up a nun or this," she once said.

At 19 she headed for Manhattan to make her name as a dancer, with just $35 in her pocket. Changing direction, she broke into the charts in 1982 with Holiday, produced by boyfriend Jellybean (Jingo) Benitez. She met Sean Penn, already a successful actor, as she filmed the video for Material Girl. Their first date was said to be a visit to the grave of Madonna's idol, Marilyn Monroe.

'Happier Than Ever'

The couple married on Madonna's 27th birthday on a Malibu clifftop, surrounded by television helicopters. Penn and Madonna proved to be a matched pair as he stuck his head up her dress while she stuck a finger up at the cameras. She served him with divorce papers at Thanksgiving two years later, but they renewed their vows the next month. Just after Christmas he allegedly subjected her to hours of abuse. She had charges brought against him but later dropped them. The "Poison Penns" were divorced in 1989.

Fifteen years later, Madonna's second marriage is destined to be very different. She gave birth to Guy's son, Rocco, in August and the couple began making wedding plans. The American star is happy to move to Britain to be with him.

Soon before he met Madonna, Guy found fame with his film Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels and says the last two years have been "mad." "I haven't even had time to think about it all but I am happier now than I've ever been," he says. And Madonna's feelings for Guy? "You know when people say, 'He turned my head'? Well my head didn't turn — it spun round on my body," she says.