SIR Elton John's partner David Furnish has offered marriage advice to Madonna and Guy Ritchie, urging the couple to give each other space to work on their careers.

The Canadian film-maker, who 'wed' John in a civil same-sex partnership ceremony in England in December (05), is concerned for the couple's five-year marriage after hearing tabloid reports they are growing apart.

Despite the reports, Madonna insists she is happily married to Ritchie, despite not wearing her wedding ring at the Brit Awards in London on Wednesday night (15FEB06).

Furnish says, "Elton and I have spoken to Madonna plenty of times lately. She and Guy are close friends of ours.

"They both need to concentrate on their careers if they want their relationship to work. They will be fine if they don't neglect what they do. If that means they can't see each other, that's the way it has to be.

"Couples have to compromise. That's what Guy and Madonna have to remember and they'll make it. It's tough for them as they both value their careers, the same as Elton and I, and I respect them for that.

"But we're there for Madonna as friends. I absolutely admire her. We both do."