I am also doing this whole thing with wife.
This played a big role in my decisions - all schools that were not in a major city were immediately ruled out. With that criteria --- well, there aint much left in the top 15! And whats worse is, there seems to be a distinct inverse relationship between city size and admit %. In any case, Cornell was an exception to this rule because we needed a backup.
As for the partner organizations, yes, I've talked to our reached out several. Most, to be honest, seem like pretty shallow attempts at integration, offering stuff like the book club and the cooking club etc. Fine if you are a four year girl with a new easy bake oven, a little silly sounding for a 20 something.
I was most impressed with GSBs so far though - they have actually been responsive and involved in the admit process. Frankly, its the only school I've seen that, so far, has placed "partner related" activities squarely in their admit weekend - not as a side thing for 20 minutes - but rather as a core element of the day. They also impressed me because the club actually recieves funding from the school to hold events, has rights to use facilities at the school (meetings rooms, etc) and partners can even audit classes for free (as with most schools). You really get the impression it's not just an "after thought". They even have silly acronyms like "POLO" - Parents of Little Ones...
That said, none of hte partner clubs have really really blown me away - a better characterisation of my experiences thus far would be that the GSB has least dissapointed.
For the sake of comparison, a wife from Cornell described the club there as "a place to wallow and feed your growing depression among other immensely dissastisfied and bored housewives who regret ending up in Ithaca". In all fairness, thats a characterisation of the people, not of the club.
For me, the critical elements I want out of a partner program are effective immersion, a developed and strong supportive base, a positive networking opportunity and access to key resources at the school. There's no question the next to years are going to be taxing - not only on my personal net worth, but also on my time and my sanity. I'm fortunate enough that I dont have to move cities, so my wife will remain actively employed, however, I need her to feel like part of this community. I don't want her to view things as "oh your friends are stopping by?" - I want it to be "our friends are stopping by". As much as is humanely possible, I want her to feel as if she's a key part of the experience and has just as much to learn from it as I do.
Fortunately, I've learned how to keep her motivated. See:
edit: Yea, I know I'm going to hell for making this joke. But if you laughed:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EXxUSolU ... ed&search=