I am an assistant professor in an engineering field, and my wife is a PhD student in a physics-related field. We live in an eastern European country and work in different institutes. I am quite happy with my colleagues and boss, and I really enjoy working with them. They are very friendly, and we come along pretty well.
My wife, however, has some serious issues with her supervisor, and honestly, I have no idea how I should get involved and the handle the situation. Her supervisor is a (around 40 years old) guy who is willing to get habilitation. Since he does not have enough publications, recently he has been trying hard to have some papers published.
Two years ago, he published his first paper with my wife, and he put himself as the first author. This was understandable, because, as my wife told me, he had the major contribution. Without disclosing it to my wife, he then continued working on the topic, which is supposed to be my wife's PhD dissertation, and published a single-author paper. He thanked my wife in the acknowledgment, as a way to keep her silent. My wife was totally mad about this and even asked the guy to remove her from the acknowledgment, but he refused and justified his action.
This year, my wife worked pretty hard on a paper, and when the first draft of the paper was ready, she sent it to him to work on it and supply his contribution. He did so, but also put his name as the first author. Therefore, they had a big argument, and he rationalized this by saying that his contribution is more important, he has devoted his familty-time to this. and he needs to be the first author because he has to get habilitation, etc.
So, my question is: how I should handle this situation? She is very frustrated now and this is seriously influencing our life. Since she is in her last year of PhD, I don't want her to take a wrong action and jeopardize her PhD. On the other hand, this guy has to know that he is not allowed to abuse others to compensate his years without publication.
Clarification 1: My wife has not asked me to handle the situation, neither I have no intention of making a direct interference.
Clarification 2: Habilitation is a high scientific degree (before professorship) in some European countries that allows one to be the supervisor of a PhD candidate.
Clarification 3: The question is not "how to make my wife feels better?" rather "how, as a spouse, advise her to do the right thing in this difficult situation?"