Despite increasing recognition of the involvement of adults with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) in intimate relationships, little is known about the dynamics of marriages where one partner has ASD. This study aimed to clarify the subjective experiences of wives of husbands with ASD from marriage to marital crisis. Semi-structured interviews were conducted with 15 women married to men with ASD in Japan, in 2016-17. The analysis conducted in this study was based on a modified version of the grounded theory approach. Our investigation revealed how the wives of ASD husbands respond to a crisis after their marriage. The findings describe a process beginning with wives perceiving their husbands as attractive before marriage and then progressing to feeling discomfort with their husbands and struggling with loneliness after marriage. Experiences with social exclusion/inclusion affected this progression. The wives’ repeated discomfort with their husbands and struggles with loneliness eventually led to a major crisis. Finally, the work discusses how these findings may contribute to improving the lives of women with partners with ASD and advances the family stress model.
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