If I had skimmed this book at a bookstore, rather than buying it based on Amazon reviews, I never would have bought it. I was looking for a book that emphasized ways that my partner and I could practice Wicca together. Based on the title, I thought that's what I was getting. I was disappointed. Before I address the specifics of my disappointment, I want to note that the second half of "Wicca for Couples" does contain beautiful ideas for couple-oriented rituals. The handfasting ritual struck me as especially lovely, and as something that could easily be modified to make non-Wiccans comfortable while still retaining spiritual aspects important to Wiccans.
A.J. Drew's point is that too often in religious communities-whether Wiccan or Christian-we tend to forget the family and neighborly focus. By turning covens into artificial families, we have tended to forget the everyday living of the ideas we express in ritual. He notes that originally these practices were based in real community, where extended families and neighbors participated together. While I agree that leaving religion behind at the ritual or at church is a common failing of several religions, I disagree with Drew's apparent contention that close-knit communities never really become like real family. My own circle of friends does act like family, caring for each other when sick, helping each other through difficulties, etc., to a greater extent than I ever experienced from my biological family.
Since few of my friends and none of my family are Wiccan, I appreciated Drew's idea that we can incorporate our spiritual practices into the real-life practices that we share with those closest to us. Drew provides a basic outline for Wiccan rituals with parallels to real-life practices. For instance, he likens smudging to putting guests at ease. He even suggests that if you want to actually smudge non-Wiccan guests as they arrive, you can honestly tell them that smudging is a Native American tradition.
I also appreciated Drew's reminder that we need to do more than pay lip service to the idea that we honor God along with the Goddess, and that we should honor them in their relationship to each other. He makes an excellent point that if we are drawn to a particular Goddess, we also should examine the relationship that she had with the God most frequently associated with her, such as Hera and Zeus, Shiva and Parvati.
I purchased "Wicca for Couples" hoping to find ideas for couple-based celebrations of the Sabbats. Drew does not cover this. He suggests rituals only for births, handfasting, handparting, and dating. Since his approach to ritual is to encourage couples to make up what's meaningful to them, his approach of only providing a few examples is understandable. Nevertheless, I tend to look to more specific examples and adapt, rather than making something up completely on my own. If your style is like mine, you might not find this book as helpful. If your style were more like Drew's, then you more likely would find his book useful.
Next, my disappointments:
Drew does not get to the "couple rituals" section until about 100 pages into the book. Since the book is barely more than 200 pages long, a substantial part of the book does not focus on what the title promises-"making magic together." Instead, Drew focuses on how Wicca developed from being a traditional fertility religion to effectively becoming "sterilized." He spends an inordinate amount of the book analyzing how the Farrar and Buckland approaches to Wicca diverge (the latter has not welcomed homo(...) and has removed references to (...) in the Charge of the Goddess; the former welcomes homosexuals and retains reference to (...) in the Charge).
I was looking for a book on how I could incorporate my partner into my Wiccan practices, not a history lesson. When I do read history, I especially appreciate an author who provides a good analysis of WHY things happened, not just what happened. Drew never gets to the "why."
Until he gets to the section on couple rituals, Drew's tone is VERY negative. I have never encountered such extremely critical and judgmental language in any Wiccan writings before. His style was far more reminiscent of what I encountered in my fundamentalist Christian upbringing. Drew could have made his same points in a far more positive, affirming way, rather than spending half his book condemning how others practice their religion.
Finally, I have to address a comment that he made in arguing that educators should be personally successful in the subjects they teach. For instance, Drew contends that successful marriage counselors should have successful marriages. He draws a parallel to parenting, and states, "Abused children tend to grow up to be child abusers; molested children tend to grow up to be child molesters..." (p. 65). Although Drew provides footnotes for the flavor of Granny Smith apples and his preference for rock salt versus sea salt in another ritual (p. 212), he provides no statistics supporting his perpetuation of the "abused becomes abuser" myth. I have professional training in this area. Sarah Buehl, a nationally recognized expert on domestic violence, states that while abusers typically were abused as children, to say that abused children tend to grow up to abuse is absolutely incorrect. I tend to believe Buehl rather than the owner of a pagan bookstore on this point. When I encounter such blatant inaccuracies, I tend to question other "facts" presented by the author.
Overall, if you skip over the first five chapters, "Wicca for Couples" is not a bad starting point for developing rituals that you can share with your partner and family. Drew does point out that more needs to be done within Wicca. Unfortunately, his book still leaves plenty of room for others to develop inclusive, affirming couple-based rituals. I definitely did not find what I was looking for.