Re: rifle for wife
For deer and elk I would strive for one of the magnum calibers, but there are plenty that are not in the magnum category that would suffice.
Using my wife as an example, she doesn't care about the recoil, even my 300wm loaded really hot doesnt bug her. She was more interested in how it guys in her hands and how the scope lined up with eye and what not.
The two guns she shoots are a 708 ackley improved in a Browning a bolt and Ruger 243.
The ackley shoots 140 grain accubonds @ 2950.
I wouldn't recommend the ackley version, only because of cost. There are much more economical ways you can get a 7mm bullet to travel velocities high enough to kill elk routinely.
Take your wife into a gun store and have her hold several guns. Then choose caliber.