Their love didn't last a lifetime, but Cindy Crawford will always cherish the lessons she learned during her four-year marriage to Richard Gere. The model spoke candidly about their short-lived union during the March 11 episode of Oprah's Master Class, citing their 17-year age difference as the biggest issue in their relationship.
The stars met during a star-studded barbecue at the late photographer Herb Ritts' home. "There were a lot of really cool people there. I was like, 'Wow! Jack Nicholson!'" Crawford recalled. "I was 21. It was still all new to me. I met Richard Gere there. We pretty much started dating right away. When I was with him, that's when I was becoming well-known as well."
The stars married four years later when Crawford was 25 and Gere was 42; they divorced in 1995.
"I just think your twenties, for women, is such a time when you're starting to come into your own and feel your own power and connect to your inner strength, and it's hard to do that -- it's hard to change -- in a relationship, because what one person might have signed up for, all of a sudden, you're not that anymore," the model said. "I think I was more willing at 22 to be, like, 'Okay, I'll follow,' but then you start going, 'Well, I don't want to just follow -- I want to lead sometimes and I want to walk side by side sometimes.'"
During their time together, Gere -- who had starred in hit films like Pretty Woman, An Officer and a Gentleman and American Gigolo -- showed Crawford how to deal with fame.
"When I would see how he was with fans when they approached him, a lot of the times it wouldn't be a good moment to sign an autograph, shake a hand or sign a picture. But I got to look to him to see how he created boundaries for himself that felt good," Crawford said. "Being a nice girl fro the Midwest, my inclination is always to give and say yes because I want people to like me. But then I saw Richard do it in a way that was like, 'You know what? Sorry, I'm not doing that. But I see you. He felt it was really just about making that connection, looking someone in the eyes and making sure that they felt seen."
Crawford was the first to remarry, tying the knot with restaurateur Rande Gerber in 1998. The two are parents to son Presley, 13, and daughter Kaia, 11. Gere married model and actress Carey Lowell in 2002, two years after welcoming son Homer.
Though her marriage to Gere didn't work out, Crawford doesn't view it as a complete failure. "Richard's a super smart guy, and he's interesting, and he's interested, and I learned a lot about the world," she explained. "It was a great chapter in my life."
Oprah's Master Class airs Sundays at 10 p.m. EST on OWN.
This article originally appeared on Usmagazine.com: Cindy Crawford Blames Failed Marriage to Richard Gere on 17-Year Age Gap