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To the Confucians, marriage is of important significance both in the family and in society. In the perspective of family, marriage can bring families of different surnames (different clans) together, and continue the family life of the concerned clans. Therefore, only the benefits and demerits of the clans, instead of the individual couples, are concerned in a marriage. Socially, a married couple is the basic unit of the population; sometimes marriages can affect the country's political stability and international relations (especially to certain foreign tribes like Mongolians, Manchus, Huns, and Turks); thus marriage can be related to politics.
From the point of view of Confucian philosophy, one of the purposes of marriage is the cultivation of virtue. The Chinese have seen that marriage (Chinese: ; pinyin: ) should be founded on love since the concept of monogamy is rooted in their mindset. Ideographically, ''h?n'' (?) is identical to ''h?n'' (?, literally means an evening; a dusk) in ancient writings, though the former has the radical (Chinese character) ''n?'' (?, literally means a female). Similarly, ''y?n'' (?) is the same as ''y?n'' (?). According to Zhang Yi's () (Chinese: o; pinyin: ), a dictionary for ancient Chinese characters, ''y?n'' (?) means friendliness, love and harmony, indicating that correct way of living for a married couple.
Due to the concept of filial piety and following rites of propriety, marriage was a costly affair and seen as second only to funeral ceremonies. The use of a matchmaker was meant to ensure that the husband and wife were compatible with each other, but primarily worked in the families' best interests.