From Russia with lots of love

Long-distance match works for Lake Stevens couple

By JIM HALEY

Herald Writer

LAKE STEVENS — There was love for Arthur and Julia Britton long before first sight.

Romance was spawned by dozens of e-mails and letters dispatched the 6,000 miles between here and Volgograd, a place in Russia once named Stalingrad.

Outside of photos, the pair never laid eyes on each other for 15 months after they started corresponding in July 1998.

Now they are married, thanks to a mutual attraction and a listing in a magazine that brought them together.

Julia, 26, is a Russian mail-order bride. She put her name, photo and a short biography in the magazine and got hundreds of responses from men around the world, mainly from the United States.

Only five of the letters attracted her interest, including one from the man she married in August.

"This is the very best woman you could imagine," said Arthur Britton, 49, an industrial waste inspector for the city of Everett.

"He’s the best husband, best father," she said.

Along with Julia came now 4-year-old Olga, her daughter from a previous marriage. Arthur Britton also is on his second marriage, with a daughter and son living with their mother.

The couple settled at his rural home on three acres north of here. They have two horses, a mule and a Rhodesian Ridgeback dog named Luke.

They believe the relationship they’ve built will stand the test of time.

Julia divorced her first husband, a Russian businessman, who she said didn’t pay a lot of attention to her and Olga. He was seldom home. Her American husband is just the opposite.

It was his inquiries about Olga that prompted her to reply to his original letter.

"It’s important when a man cares about your child," she said. During the long-distance courtship, he even sent unsolicited money to pay Olga’s doctor bills when she got sick.

Such attention to family values got rave reviews from her parents, she added. Her own father is only two years older than her new mate, but she said a lot of Russian women marry older men.

Arthur Britton was divorced several years ago and became disenchanted with the single women who met in this area. So he took up the magazine and started sending inquiries.

She responded and "it caught on. The more I found out about (Julia) the more I liked," he said.

He, too, likes a woman who put family ahead of career. However, he expects Julia to continue with her work in physical therapy once she learns more English and gets certified for that profession. She was a physical therapist and participated with a professional handball team in Russia.

After two trips to Russia, Arthur Britton speaks passionately about the people there. It’s a proud nation, he said.

"They’re not leaving because they don’t want to be there," he said. "They’re leaving because they’re looking for a better life for themselves and their children. Mostly the children."

He’s happy to have introduced his bride to her first Mexican food, and her first American garage sale.

Next month, he plans to fulfill her childhood dream — a visit to Disneyland.

"How many men get a chance to fulfill a dream of someone they really love?" he asked.

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