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Savage Love: My Husband Got the Monkeypox Vaccine, Is He Cheating?

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alter ego, Savage Lovecast
Dan Savage.

There is more to this week’s Savage Love. To read the entire column, go to Savage.Love

Dear Savage Love Readers:  After Nov. 14 my website Savage.Love will become the exclusive online home for my column. My column will still appear in print in publications like Queen City Nerve, but you will no longer be able to read the column online anywhere other than Savage.Love. This move will allow me to continue bringing you new columns — new questions, new answers —every week. I hope you will check out Savage.Love, where you can join the community of Savage Love readers and enjoy my latest columns, decades of archives, the Savage Lovecast podcast, and much more. — Dan

I’m a woman in a hetero marriage. We’ve happily played with others a bit but not recently because we have a small child. We are both bi and in our 40s. We talked about getting the monkeypox vaccine, but I didn’t think it was urgent because we’re not currently having sex with anyone else. Here’s my question: What should I do after learning that my husband got the monkeypox vaccine without telling me? I noticed a red bump on his arm, and he said it was nothing. After I said it looked like the monkeypox vaccine reaction, he admitted he got the vaccine but didn’t tell me. I was in favor of him getting the vaccine, so I’m totally panicking because he sneaked to get the shot. I think he’s cheating. It’s 2 a.m. where I am, and I just ordered two at-home HIV/AIDS tests and I’m getting a full STI panel at my OB-GYN on Monday. What should I do? I’m a wreck.
— Seriously Panicking Over Unapproved Shot And Lies

By the time you read this, SPOUSAL, those at-home HIV/AIDS tests will have arrived, and you will have your results. You’ll also have seen your OB-GYN and most likely gotten the results of your STI tests. Assuming there were no unpleasant surprises — assuming you’re still negative for all the same things you were negative for the last time you tested — what does that mean? 

While I don’t wanna cause you another sleepless night, SPOUSAL, your test results can all be negative and your husband could still be cheating on you. But in the absence of other evidence — in the absence of any actual evidence that your husband has cheated on you — I think your husband deserves the benefit of the doubt.

Getting the monkeypox vaccine is the only fact in evidence here, SPOUSAL, and it’s a huge leap from, “My husband got the monkeypox vaccine without telling me,” and, “My husband has been cheating on me with other men during a public health crisis that has primarily impacted gay and bi men and wasn’t using condoms with those other men and knowingly put me at risk of contracting monkeypox and HIV.” If your husband has a history of being reckless about his own sexual health and yours — if he tried to go bare without your consent when you played with other people, for example, and that incident and others like it fueled your freakout — I don’t understand why you’re still married to this man.

Zooming out for a second…

I can think of a few very good reasons why a married bi guy might decide to get the monkeypox vaccine even if his partner wanted him to wait. First, those shots haven’t been easy to get. If the vaccine became available where you live and/or his doctor offered it to him, it was a good idea for him to get his shots even if he’s not currently sleeping with anyone else. And why would his partner — why would you — want him to wait? If you didn’t want him to get those shots as some sort of insurance policy, e.g., if you wanted cheating to be needlessly and avoidably risky as some sort of deterrent, that seems pretty reckless. 

Sometimes, SPOUSAL, the likely excuse is the honest answer. I’m guessing your husband got his shots because he hopes you — the both of you — can start playing with others again in the near future and he wants to be ready. Guys have to wait a month after getting their first shot before getting their second shot, and another two weeks after that before they’re fully immune. (Or as immune as they’re going to get.) If your husband has been looking forward to opening your relationship back up — by mutual consent — sometime in the near future, he most likely wanted to be ready to go when you decided, together, to resume playing with others. And he didn’t tell you he was getting the shots because, although he wanted to be ready to go when the time came, he knew you weren’t ready and didn’t want you to feel rushed or pressured.

My analysis of the situation presumes your husband isn’t a lying, cheating, inconsiderate, reckless asshole and deserves the benefit of the doubt here. You know your husband better than I do, SPOUSAL, and it’s entirely possible that your husband has proven himself to be a liar and a cheat and an inconsiderate asshole and a reckless idiot again and again and again.

But if that’s the case — if he’s all of those horrible, no-good, disqualifying things and, therefore, not deserving the benefit of the doubt here — I would ask you again (and again and again): Why are you still married to him then?

Go to Savage.Love for Dan’s answer to this question and more. Follow Dan on Twitter and send questions to questions@savagelove.net. Previous columns posted on Queen City Nerve can be found here.


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