A marriage lacking intimacy

Darling if you want me to be ... closer to you ... get closer to me ...
My husband and I have been married for 17 years and we have four children. We met in college and married a few years later. For the most part, our marriage has been a happy one. But one aspect that has been lacking is the intimacy. I don't mean sexual intimacy, but romantic intimacy. Is this something that women need or crave more than men? My husband is not the type to display physical affection (other than sex), even when we are alone (i.e., hold my hand, put his arm around me, rub my back, gaze into my eyes, etc.) His own father is very similar in showing little emotion, so I'm sure some of it comes from growing up observing him. My husband doesn't plan dates -- I'm the one who has find the time, call a sitter, rent a movie, buy some wine, etc. I often find myself watching other couples out in public who look like they are totally enraptured with one another and wishing I felt that way more often, too. However, I often overlook this need of mine because my husband is an excellent father, helps around the house, has a steady job, and is a very social, likeable guy with many friends. I've tried to bring it up before, but it is difficult to tell your partner that you need them to be more romantic. When I say something, he might make an effort with one or two small things, but then that's it. I try to do romantic things for him thinking that might show him what I want, but it doesn't seem to work. Any insights on this? Thank you. -- Craving Intimacy, Worcester

CI, a question: When you plan these dates, does he play along? Does he have a good time? It sounds like the lack of petting and purring in your marriage isn’t about the 17 years or the four kids. He’s just not a cuddly guy. I’m not scolding you for having needs, but I am saying that your expectations should remain in check. If your husband grew up in a hands-off household and he's never been one for hand-holding, you can’t expect miracles now. And I’m sure I don’t have to tell you this, but many of the couples you see – the ones who are “enraptured” – have other problems. The best thing you can do is ask for what you want -- in moderation without being critical. I know you want your husband to be instinctually, proactively romantic, but it doesn’t always work that way. You might have to say, “Mind if we cuddle?” or “Want to have dinner just you and I?” Also consider that his idea of romance is different than yours. Maybe he doesn’t want wine. Maybe he’d prefer a night of beer and movies or mini-golf and ice cream. If all else fails, please, have the honest talk. Tell him you feel lonely within the marriage and that you’d love to connect on a deeper level. Tell him that connection doesn’t have to come from gazing and spooning. He might be more open to the concept if it didn’t put him on the spot to plan a date night. Readers? How can CI get the intimacy she needs? After 17 years, does date night do the trick? Share your thoughts here. Submit a letter to the right. -- Meredith