Mr Wardell, 41, was also accused of burglary at the Woolwich Building Society office in Nuneaton, Warwickshire, where his wife worked, and with stealing more than pounds 14,000.
There was no application for bail during his five-minute appearance before Nuneaton magistrates, and reporting restrictions were not lifted.
Mr Wardell stood in the dock with his hands behind his back, and was flanked by two plain-clothed police officers.
He spoke only three times, to confirm his name, age and address of Bonneville Close, Meriden, near Coventry.
He was charged with murdering his wife at Meriden or elsewhere on 11 or 12 September, burglary at the Woolwich Building Society office in Nuneaton on 12 September, and with stealing pounds 14,126.67, three building society cheque books and a cash card.
Edward Iles, chairman of the magistrates, remanded Mr Wardell in custody until 1 November.
The body of 38-year-old Mrs Wardell was found dumped in a lay-by near Nuneaton on 12 September. She had been asphyxiated.Reuse content