There’s nothing more frustrating than trying to stay calm when you’re annoyed with your partner, but doing so will help end the conflict faster and result in a happier relationship, according to a February 2014 study published in the journal Emotion.The research, which looked at married couples but could be applied to any serious romantic partnership, found that when women were able to reduce negative emotions after a negative event—think a big fight—both the wives and the husbands experienced greater marital satisfaction.Apparently, there’s truth to the gender stereotypes that women maintain the harmony of the home while men aren’t as skilled at emotional matters. “It’s an unfair standard to expect women to bear the burden of managing emotion in a relationship, but it’s what we observed,” says lead study author Lian Bloch, Ph.D., assistant professor at the Pacific Graduate School of Psychology at Palo Alto University in California.Yes, it’s annoying to know that escalating or ending a fight rests on your ability to stay calm and keep the peace, but look at it this way: You have the power to create a happier, healthier relationship. Here are four ways to keep calm and carry on:Ease up on eye contact. Although making eye contact with your partner during a disagreement seems like it would increase your powers of persuasion, it can actually have the opposite effect, according to a September 2013 study published in the journal Psychological Science. It turns out, averting your gaze may help calm a tense situation. While eye contact often signals trust and intimacy, during conflict, eye contact can appear threatening. “Think of dogs staring each other down before a fight,” explains study co-author Frances Chen, Ph.D., assistant professor of psychology at the University of British Columbia. “Since conflicts of opinion often create threatening situations to begin with, eye contact may make such situations worse.” So pay attention to your guy’s body language. “If he seems receptive to your message, eye contact might have a positive impact on persuasion,” says Chen. “However, if he seems upset, overwhelmed or starts looking away, trying to force direct eye contact could backfire.” If it feels weird to not look at each other, try taking a walk side-by-side so you can talk things out without it turning into a staring contest.Don’t be a drill sergeant about the facts. Conventional wisdom says to solve an argument, stick to the facts (“You promised you’d call at 7:00”), not an emotionally charged dialogue (“You’re inconsiderate”). However, using logic to win an argument may have the opposite effect thanks to what’s called “motivated reasoning.” Simply put, if your partner believes he never promised to call, telling him he did will only strengthen his own conviction. If you find yourself in an argument about the facts that isn’t going anywhere, change tactics and diffuse the situation by saying something like, “Let’s forget who said what and focus on finding a solution.”Surrender to funny moments. Arguing is no laughing matter, but if your guy inadvertently says something clever mid-tiff, crack a smile. First off, it’s well known that laughter releases stress-busting, well-being-inducing neurotransmitters called endorphins, which can ease a tense situation. What’s more, for couples who have an overall positive view of each other, engaging in “affiliative humor”—referencing an inside joke, making a good-natured comment—during conflict helps lighten the mood, according to research published in the journal Personality and Social Psychology. “Your partner might appreciate the effort and feel that you care about bringing the argument to a positive conclusion,” notes study author Heike Winterheld, a professor in the department of psychology at California State University East Bay. Her advice: “Stay away from sarcastic jokes, teasing that puts the partner down or jokes that are excessively self-disparaging. While self-disparaging comments can be funny, they tend to convey neediness and take away the attention your partner needs in that moment and turn the focus on you.”Forget “I’m sorry.” If things really get heated and your guy won’t apologize, ask yourself if you really need to hear those two little words—and if there’s room for compromise. According to a study conducted by Baylor University, the most common outcome people desire from conflict isn’t an apology, but for their partners to relinquish some power. That sounds bad on the surface, but keep in mind that the study defined “relinquishing power” as a willingness to admit fault, showing respect and being willing to compromise, which sounds fair and healthy. Sharing power in a relationship was followed closely by showing that you’re invested in the relationship, stopping adversarial behavior, communicating more, giving affection and lastly, offering an apology.