Well Max, we all have to start out somewhere. I lucky enough I can afford good equipment and at 52 learned it doesn't pay to buy it twice or three times. My experience with digital has been about 3 months. Time will tell and yes practice is key.
Yep, give it some time. Lighting is ridiculously difficult in the beginning and a lot of trial and error is required. Idea for you: Find something else as a 'stand-in' model for practice in place of your wife. She'll give up soon if she's anything like mine!
Only thing I can say is the lights are much more powerful than you expect them to be. And try settings something like these: Set camera ISO to 100, aperture on lens to 7.1 and shutter speed to 1/160. Adjust output on lights until you have good exposure. Use these settings as a starting point.