Loved this drama so much that I have been rewatching old episodes this week since I am not over it yet. Lol.
On this second re-watching, I noticed more starkly what irritated me about Qi Heng's relationship with Minglan - he never tried to understand where she was coming from and was always putting her in compromising situations. I felt he loved her but he was in love with the cute flawless Sixth Sheng Miss and never took her opinions or tried to understand her reasoning and her situation. The first polo match for example - with so many eyes and ears around, he was talking about the knee guards she gave him with so many others nearby. And then going to the Yuqing Monastery to corner her alone so he could express his love for her. That could have led to very disastrous consequences. And there were numerous other occasions.
This was contrasted with how Gu Tingye regarded her. He was always aware of the precarious and difficult situation Minglan was in and took care never to put her in compromising situations. After saving her from the pirate attack, when she didn't know who her saviour was initially, he reminded her she shouldn't have given her name to a random strange man. Or not accompanying her back in public after the funeral attack because it could create a scandal. And more importantly, he took her opinions seriously unlike QH. Although he was upset with her in her role in disrupting his proposed match with Yanran, he accepted her reasoning although he was mad enough to still threaten her with the idea that he could propose marriage to her instead. Lol. He also gave serious thought to what she said about Rong-er's future and acted on it because he saw her as intelligent and an equal. QH only saw her as a cute girl he wanted to be with.
The contrast was also evident in the schoolroom debate when Minglan was asked her opinion on whether inheritance should be through birth position or merit. Gu Tingye was confident she could hold her own and had her own opinion, while Qi Heng was amazed that she could.
I think if Minglan had married Qi Heng, she would have been frustrated eventually because Qi Heng had such a set idea of what she was which wasn't her at all. Marrying Gu Tingye was difficult because of his horrible family, but he also gave her the space to be herself and come into her own and it was a true partnership. It was also significant that before marriage, apart from Grandma, Gu Tingye was the only one whom she would have uncensored and honest conversations with.
One last side note - on Dr He. I think she would be happy enough too. But he was in awe of her and I don't think it would have been the type of equal partnership she had with Gu Tingye. She would be very fond of him though but he won't be able to support her the way Gu Tingye did as he was too soft.