It sounds like your wife learned to paint with watercolor paints in pans, and/or learned from someone who only really knew of these types of paints:
These are in a sense the ancestors of the kiddie watercolors you may have struggled with as a child, and thus you might think that they're lower quality than tube paints, but that's not actually the case: they're exactly the same pigments and binders as tube watercolors, with possibly a little bit less glycerin, since they don't have to stay flexible in the tube.
The techniques used for painting with pans can be quite different than the techniques for using tube paints - with the latter, you basically dilute the paint to heavy cream consistency and use it that way, while with the former, you do what your wife (eventually) does, namely use a wet brush to pick up mostly-dry paint. By the end of a painting session, even the pan paints will be at least damp and softened, but you're unlikely to ever end up with the mythical heavy cream consistency.
With tube paints, if you diluted more paint than you could use (very, very likely unless you're painting huge landscapes or something), you let it dry in your palette, and then next time you either use it as if it were pan paint (maybe another possible root for your wife's, um, habit), or you go ahead and mix it with enough water to get back to heavy cream consistency, possibly adding a touch more gum arabic if you've gone through several cycles of wet-dry-wet.
Another possible root for your wife's method is that often, people will refill their pans from a tube, for instance if there's one particular color that they keep running out of, or if the price point happens to be better for tubes than pans. (It varies by paint manufacturer, pigment, what sales are happening, and various other arcane factors.)
Bottom line is, there are paints meant to be used as your wife does (wet brush on dry-ish paint), and there are some use cases which look a lot like your wife's initial preparation (i.e. somehow ending up with dried tube paint in a pan or palette), but doing it from the outset, with no pans to speak of, seems a bit... cargo-cultish.