OK...I just talked to Verizon...
Basically there is nothing they can do about the +1 problem...the problem that essentially Facebook has introduced by automatically putting a +1 in front of U.S. Facebook user's telephone numbers.
But here is what I found out that might help...
All along, I thought it was the "1" that was the problem...it is not...it is the "+". Holy cow...never thought that the "+" was actually "in" the number...at least as far as texting goes.
So the solution, other than getting Facebook to erase the "+" in front of phone numbers, or getting Verizon's network to somehow deal with the "+", is to create a new contact, say, thru Google, for my wife...maybe using a nickname or something so the contact does not get merged, etc, with the Facebook contact, and start a new text thread using that "new" contact.
A pain in the butt? YES...but at least I know now what was causing the problem...the "+", as introduced/mandated by Facebook.
Still a mystery though:
Why did this "+" problem start happening to me 3 days ago? I guess it had to be that the "+" got synced 3 days ago...but it was not from something I did.
I've found other forum posts across the web (with all kinds of phones) having this problem for well over a year.