If one will not be home to light at the proper time, but plans to return at night while members of the household are still awake, according to Rav Yosef Shalom Elyashiv and Rav Chaim Kanievsky, it is preferable for one to appoint (a son over bar mitzvah or, if not possible) his wife as a shliach to light for him, rather than waiting to light when he returns home late at night (Shulchan Aruch w/ Mishnah Berurah 675:3, Kuntras Halichos Vehanhagos, Sefer Chanukah 13:14b).
Upon returning home, one should ask his wife if she understood that she was acting as his agent. If she is unsure, then one should light without the brachos (Kuntras Halichos Vehanhagos – Rav Yosef Shalom Elyashiv, Sefer Halichos Yosef 672:1).
If one is prepared to light at the proper time, but his wife is not ready (or home yet), the p’sak of Rav Yaakov Kamenetsky zt”l and ybl”c Rav Shmuel Wosner is that one should wait for his wife even if this means that he will not be able to light at the preferred time. (We learn this from the fact that expense for ner Shabbos has priority over ner Chanukah because of shalom bayis.)
(Sefer Emes L’yaakov 677, Kovetz M’beis Levi Kislev 5757).