Email is never a good way to try to resolve conflict so don’t do it. Instead, when you want to deliver an assertive message to someone try to do it in person, face to face. If you are not able to do that, however, and HAVE to resort to doing it by email, this is an example of how to write it.

I am not going to attempt to resolve our conflict here in this message. I merely want to write to tell you some of what I am feeling. I am going to use classic assertiveness language to do this so that I don’t stray into being accusatory or angry.

When you pull away from me without explaining why, feel confused. Back in the spring you told me that you had said to your ex-wife that you wanted to file for the divorce because you wanted to get married again. What happened to that thought of yours, that intention? It seems to have disappeared without any discussion on your part with me. No explanations, nothing.

When you pull away from me without telling me why I end up feeling that I am somehow to blame. I will not shoulder that blame however because I feel that the onus is on YOU to talk to ME about why you are doing that. Without any kind of discussion I am left in the dark because I am not a mind reader. It is unfair of you to expect me to try to get into your head and figure this out on my own. YOU need to tell ME and yet you refuse to do so, so I feel shut out and then I feel anxious.

When you don’t initiate any physical contact with me at ALL, I feel rejected and unloved. I have told you that I am not tremendously motivated by sex, but I still need love and affection. I need to feel loved. When you show no interest in wanting to pleasure me to orgasm, I feel like I don’t matter to you at all. I feel like you have no regard for my physical needs and/or wants. This engenders feelings of frustration in me.

When you talked about the way you were still processing the things that happened all the way back in November, I felt resentful because it seems to me that you are engaging in what you once described as classic first wife behavior — in terms of “holding a grudge” and I feel annoyed because you have chosen not to discuss it with me, instead you have let it fester within you (even though you call that “working it out”) and go unaddressed. 

When you tell me that you need “time to think things through” I feel like a chump because I feel like I have been royally played by you for the past three years. I feel angry about that and I don’t like it.

Stay focused on the message

I am writing this message using all the assertiveness tools I possess, keeping expressing how I feel about the way I interpret your behavior as the primary message here.

I do this with the full knowledge and understanding that you may or may not change your behaviour toward me in terms of choosing to discuss this further with me based on this feedback. I choose to do this, rather as a way to give myself a voice — to ensure that my feelings are voiced by me. Whether or not they are HEARD by you is out of my control.

Acknowledge that you know giving the message may not change things

I have always understood, appreciated and accepted that you are an introvert. I accepted that part of you without much trouble. But when you display such apathy toward me in terms of wanting to address this problem between US with ME but rather just choose to avoid it and bury your head in the sand, I feel exasperated and just want to shake you and shout at you, “What is WRONG with you!!?? Can’t you see that we are having a train wreck here?? Why don’t you care enough about that or about me to want to fix it with me???” I feel unimportant to you. When you choose to deliberately to ignore these important issues in our relationship I feel distraught because you are fucking up a good thing and it feels to me like you are either doing that on purpose because you don’t have the balls to say that you no longer love me and are hoping that I will take the bull by the horns and force the issue or that you just don’t really care about me and that makes me feel distraught because you sure fooled me!

Be careful about the way each sentence begins and ends

Notice the way each sentence begins with the words, “When you…” and ends with the words, “I feel…” That is the most important component of an assertive message. Be careful that you don’t wander over into blaming language or expressing your frustration with expletives.