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 children.
‘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.
‘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.
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.