You covered a lot of things here. I have a Samsung TV and a Samsung HW-E450 soundbar. When connected via optical, I had to use the soundbar remote and the volume number was displayed on the screen. When connected via HDMI and with HDMI-CEC activated, I can use the TV remote and it is not displayed. Obviously, you know your wife better than I do but my wife is fine with seeing flashy lights on the screen because that shows her that I am doing something with the volume. Since it's not getting any louder and she knows that I'm not a complete idiot, this suffices. It all depends on whether you could sell this to your wife.
As for whether you would be better off with a HTiB solution, that depends on your budget and needs. Personally, I would never want to use a combo. BD players are cheap enough where I don't see the need.
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