'I found my gay husband a boyfriend': Once mother-of-two Cheryl, 30, recovered from Ashley's shock confession she forgave him – and helped him find a manCheryl and Ashley Barrier were happily married with two children when gay pornography sparked unfamiliar feelings for Ashley
Cheryl urged her husband to explore his sexuality – and he realised he was gayThe two remain friends – and Cheryl helped Ashley find his new husband, Nathan
18:03 GMT, 24 August 2012
Cheryl Barrier thought she had the perfect marriage. With a handsome husband and two young daughters, her life was complete.
But just two years ago, her life was turned upside down when her husband Ashley discovered that he was gay.
At first Cheryl, 30, felt as though her life had crumbled around her.
But instead of being angry, Cheryl found the inner strength to forgive her former husband – and even helped him to find a boyfriend.
Ashley, 27, and Cheryl, 30, were happily married until Ashley realised he was gay
Now, Ashley and Nathan are happily married – while Cheryl is regarded as a close family friend.
The three, who appeared on the This Morning sofa to discuss their unusual relationship, say that they are now one big happy family.
Cheryl, who many would have forgiven for presuming her five year marriage to Ashley had been a sham, says she never had an inkling her husband was gay.
'I never had a clue,' she says now. 'There was never a time when I thought he was effeminate, or gay.
'I never thought for a minute he was curbing his instinct.'
Even more surprising is the fact that Ashley says that he didn't know either.
So was it just a road to Damascus transformation 'Yes,' says Ashley. 'I never had an inkling.
'AlI I ever wanted was kids and a wife.
I’ve always said that if I’d known, I wouldn’t have married and had my
'But I don’t regret that for a minute. Back then, I loved it –
we were very happy together.'
The two met when Ashley was 19 and Cheryl was 23 through their siblings. It was love at first sight and the pair married quickly.
Now Cheryl, Ashley and his new husband Nathan, 29, regard their unusual situation as just 'one big happy family'
'There were three dates that we could get married on – and one of them was a month away, Ashley recalls. 'We went for that one – we only had a month to plan our wedding.'
The two were blissfully happy, until one night when the two decided to watch an adult film together.
The pornographic scenes of a heterosexual couple gave way to some scenes involving two men engaged in a sex act together.
'As I came across it, I didn't turn it off,' Ashley says. 'At first, it was just that it didn't annoy or repulse me. I was shocked to find I liked it,' he says.
Further on, as I kept going, I realised I really did like it.'
At that point, Ashley decided he must be bisexual. Realising her husband had made a major discovery, Cheryl urged her Ashley to explore that area of his life.
'We spoke about his feelings,' Cheryl says. 'It wasn't something that happened overnight. I said to Ashley, “you have to experience that part of your life. I don't want you to live a lie with me and the children.'
Then, Ashley was still under the impression he was bisexual – but decided to do as Cheryl suggested and look for a boyfriend.
'You can't control when that 'something' comes out,' Ashley says. 'I was as shocked as Cheryl.
Nathan, right, came out to his family when he was 13, and says he isn't at all fazed by the unusual set-up he has with Ashley and Cheryl
'You don't just wake up one day and go, “I'm gay!”. It happened gradually.
'We talked in depth about it,' says Cheryl. 'It’s not something we light-heartedly skimmed over.’
Remarkably, Cheryl says she holds no anger towards the man who left her for another man.
'Anger ‘I have gay relationships in my family already,' she says. 'My brother is gay as well. We are used to dealing with gays in the family, it’s accepted.'
Cheryl and Ashley admit that telling the children was the hardest part.
'We spoke about it, then it came to, “How do we tell the kids’
'I’ve lost you as a husband but I want to keep you as a friend'
'We both dealt with it a mature way,' Ashley says – adding that Cheryl showed what a good friend she could be.
For Cheryl's part, she says she does not grieve for the husband she lost.
'I'd rather have him as a good friend,' she says. 'We need to keep relationship natural and good for children.'
'We used to send each other cards – I’ve lost you as a husband but I want to keep you as a friend,’ Ashley adds.
Soon after the couple split, Ashley met Nathan and the two were married within the year.
Ashley says he knew Nathan was the one as soon as they met – but that telling Cheryl was difficult.
‘I knew he was the one, but to tell my ex-wife was the final bit. To tell her, I've moved on, I've met someone who is The One – that was hard,' he says.
For his part, Nathan, who came out to his family when he was 13, is open-minded about the unusual situation.
He says he was brought up with a big family, so the fact that Ashley had children – and a wife – didn't perturb him at all.
So is Nathan at all worried that Ashley could return to heterosexual past
'At the beginning, we were all so close. In the back of my mind I thought he could go back with Cheryl again. But once we had our Civil Partnership I knew.
'But we are all still very close.'
Ashley says that by appearing on This Morning, he hopes to help other men who might be in the same situation.
'It's not about not being true to yourself,' he says. 'Some people are ashamed, and I want them to see how well we work as a family unit. We work great together. Hopefully people can see how accepting we are.'