At the beginning of the Country Music Association Awards on Wednesday, host Luke Bryan delivered a monologue that shied away from current events, except for one moment.

“Rest assured, we’re following all the health protocols to keep everyone safe. And it is so great to be here with all my fellow artists, tested and together,” Bryan said, and then smirked: “Or immunized. Who isn’t? Just playing.”

The joke, aimed at Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers and his misleading response that he was “immunized” when asked whether he got the coronavirus vaccine, received some laughs — but the most notable moment was when the camera cut to country superstar Carrie Underwood, who did not look pleased to suddenly appear on-screen.

The 55th annual Country Music Association Awards were celebrated in Nashville on Nov. 10. (Julie Yoon/The Washington Post)

It could have just been a coincidence. But this past weekend, Underwood’s husband, former hockey player Mike Fisher, shared his thoughts about Rodgers’s decision not to get vaccinated in a much-circulated Instagram photo.

“I stand with Aaron Rodgers,” wrote Fisher in an all-text post. “I believe in the freedom to choose what we put in our bodies and the freedom of conscience,” he added in the caption, along with claims that experts have debunked. “But these past 2 years has clearly shown us that this is not about our health, it’s about control over our lives. I won’t stand for that.” He ended with the hashtag #medicalfreedom.

He’s not the only outspoken country music spouse these days: On Monday, Jason Aldean’s wife, Instagram influencer Brittany Aldean, launched “a clothing line based around patriotic values and being proud Americans” with Kasi Rosa Wicks, Jason’s sister and the wife of country singer Chuck Wicks. Various shirts read “This is our … country,” with an American flag covering up a certain expletive; “Unapologetically Conservative”; and “Military Lives Matter.” (“Who said military lives don’t matter?” one commenter asked, to which Brittany responded, “Have you been present this year????” with a thinking face emoji.)

Both Fisher and Brittany Aldean’s posts sparked quite a reaction online. And coincidentally, both Underwood and Jason Aldean shared the stage Wednesday night at the Country Music Association Awards. The singers, two of the most popular country stars over the last decade-plus, performed their recent No. 1 duet, “If I Didn’t Love You” — and seeing them side-by-side was a reminder of the different ways country stars can respond when their spouses write controversial social media posts.

It’s a heightened issue in country music because husbands and wives are an inextricable part of Nashville stars’ brands. It’s a genre that puts a premium on relatability and reminding listeners that singers are just like them — and as a result, the genre has always had an emphasis on family. Fans clamor for details about the husbands, wives and children of country singers. Nashville artists respond by frequently incorporating their partners and kids in everything including song lyrics, music videos and side projects.

When it comes to Fisher, Underwood has taken the tactic that many country stars embrace — virtual silence. This isn’t the first time her husband has made his views clear. Right after the 2020 presidential election, Fisher commented on former NFL quarterback Jay Cutler’s Instagram post that questioned President Biden’s victory. “Media says it legit! It must be legit,” Fisher wrote. He recently had a post flagged by Instagram for sharing false information about the coronavirus.

Underwood has always been hesitant about sharing her thoughts on any current events: “I try to stay far out of politics if possible, at least in public, because nobody wins,” Underwood told “Good Morning America” in 2019. “It’s crazy. Everybody tries to sum everything up and put a bow on it, like it’s black and white. And it’s not like that.” She’s so well known for staying silent that in August, it qualified as a major event when her Twitter account clicked like on a video that compared kids wearing masks in schools to child abuse.

Incidentally, Underwood also clicked like on Fisher’s Instagram post about Rodgers being unvaccinated, but did not elaborate.

Aldean, meanwhile, has gone on a different path. As Brittany has become increasingly outspoken in the last year, so has Aldean. In September, Brittany dressed the couple’s toddlers in “Hidin’ From Biden” T-shirts and promoted an apparel outlet that sells pro-Donald Trump, anti-President Biden and anti-vaccination merchandise. Around the presidential election, she posted a cartoon of Vice President Harris pushing Biden out of a wheelchair and over a cliff. Shortly after the Jan. 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol, she posted a false meme that eventually led to Instagram removing the post, an action that she criticized.

Now, Aldean, who once told Rolling Stone that his voting record was “one subject I do stay away from,” has made an abrupt shift, such as posting his own meme questioning the 2020 presidential election results. He cheered on his wife when she posted their young children wearing anti-Biden clothing, and started arguing with detractors. (“Please tell me one thing that the current administration has done that is positive?” he wrote to one.) Most recently, Aldean appeared in her Instagram posts and stories as a model for shirts from her new clothing line.

But even if Underwood continues to let her social media “likes” do the talking, and Aldean keeps doubling down on his and his wife’s anti-Biden personas, it’s unlikely they will face much backlash either way — these days, country music media and the Nashville establishment also prefer to stay away from controversial topics. Instead, the two singers are likely to continue with business as usual, including appearing on the genre’s biggest stages like the one where they sang Wednesday night.

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