Lusty Lesbian: (Let's leave out the Rusty and Dusty part, since I hope those adjectives will soon disappear from your life.)
My partner and I (both lesbians) have been together for four years. Lately, we've been so busy with work and volunteering and just life that our lovemaking has been very sporadic and usually very quick. Do you have any advice on how to spice things up again so that we can really enjoy each other rather than just getting by with a quickie?
You and your partner are overcommitted to activities outside of recreation and lovemaking with one another. The first thing you both need to do is decide whether you are serious about rekindling the sexual excitement between you. If you are, then you must look at your schedules and drop a few things (or maybe a lot of things). I recommend that couples I see for counseling spend at least one entire day a week with one another and one evening as well. That's a bare minimum.
The next thing you need to do is deal with any resentments between the two of you that have made you want to avoid one another. Over time, couples tend to make "unspoken agreements" with one another to conceal conflicts. These agreements are one-sided and never explicitly shared with the other partner. For example, one partner may say to herself, "I won't say anything to you about your drinking (because I'm assuming you would never quit anyway), and in return, I want you to let me withdraw from you so I can go back to school." Or someone may think, "I'm leaving you alone about never balancing your checkbook, so I don't want to hear a word from you about the fact that I'm gaining weight."
A good way to get these out in the open is to do a writing exercise. Each of you should get a blank piece of paper and complete this sentence: "I wish I could tell you _____, but I can't because _____." You may find that you need to do this several times before you exhaust all the assumptions and repressed anger you've been holding inside. If you need a third party to mediate a conversation about these issues, it's fine to spend some time in couples counseling (with someone who understands lesbian culture and woman-to-woman sexuality).
Once you've got free time and you've gotten your interpersonal conflict reduced to a manageable level, it's time to get in touch with how you really feel about one another. Here's another writing exercise. "If you were no longer in my life, I would feel _____." (If the answer is "relieved," no advice from a stranger will save your relationship.) What I am looking for her is a measure of how important your partner has become to you. Oddly enough, people often distance themselves from their beloved simply because that person has become too important. Needing someone that much feels dangerous. It's easier to detach and hold your lover or spouse at arm's length than it is to constantly acknowledge how deeply attached you are to her.
The feelings that well up about this issue usually lead couples to want to reconnect via touch. Any sort of lovemaking is effective and amazing when it is inspired by adoration for the Other and a sense of how much you need one another. Romance inspires better sex than any amount of technique learned from a sex manual. (And this comes from someone who has written more than one sex manual!)
Of course, it doesn't hurt to have some honest talks about your sexual fantasies, buy some lingerie or other sexy apparel, get a new sex toy, or buy some appropriate porn to share. Just remember that you don't necessarily have to act out your fantasies. But talking about them can be a sizzling enhancement for lovemaking.
One exercise that I sometimes recommend for couples who are out of touch with their mutual eroticism is to pretend that they have never had sex before. Experiment with kissing as if it's your first time. Touch one another cautiously, with a virgin's curiosity and anticipation. Making out with a sense that you are doing something forbidden or brand new is a lot more exciting than conscientious "foreplay."